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Probiotics are live microorganisms that adhere to the digestive tract, and can aid in digestion while supporting a strong immune system. A truly healthy gut may have more than 500 species of these “good bacteria”. If a person is suffering from issues related to the digestive system, such as diarrhea or constipation, they may benefit from replenishing these organisms by taking a probiotic supplement. However, just casually taking any probiotic won’t necessarily allow users to reap the full benefits, so let’s take a look at how to maximize the effectiveness of probiotic supplements.
The effectiveness of probiotics is often tied to whether they survive through the gastrointestinal tract. A 2001 study found that the factors which most impact their survival relate to the degree of stomach acidity, the length of time exposed to the acid, and exposure to bile salts. Different strains react differently to various pH and temperature levels; some are more sensitive than others. For example, spore-forming bacteria such as Bacillus subtilis have the ability to form spores that protect the microbes from harsh conditions until they enter an environment ripe for germination, such as the GI tract. Another study from 2011 found that probiotics fared better when taken with or just before a meal containing some fats. The theory is that the fat content of food increases the protective effect of a probiotic by providing the bacteria with a buffer against the acidity of the stomach.
Dosages can vary so it’s important to read labels. Colony forming units, or CFUs, indicate the bacterial count found in each capsule. An average probiotic dose is around 1–5 billion CFU, with high-dose probiotics ranging from 30 to 450 billion or more. While a low-dose probiotic can be great for a general maintenance program, a much higher dose is usually required to address particular conditions.
However, it’s not just the dosage that is important. Some probiotic strains are less hardy and die out faster, so it’s prudent to consider a multi-strain product with a few distinct strains. Some common strains are Lactobacillus and Bifidus, but there are typically several different species within these categories, and each offers specific benefits and characteristics that can be beneficial when working together.
Prebiotics are another way to improve the effectiveness of probiotics. They help nourish and encourage probiotics to colonize in the digestive tract. Prebiotics are found naturally in foods such as bananas, honey, whole grains, and garlic. Prebiotic dietary supplements are also available, but many are fibers and carbohydrates that require unreasonably large doses to be effective. Non-fiber prebiotics, such as the mechanism found in the ingredient PreforPro, can offer all the benefits of a prebiotic quicker and more effectively, without the drawbacks of the typical fibers.
Millions take probiotic supplements regularly to encourage better gut health. But taking them, even daily, may not be providing all the benefits you expect. Optimize their impact by understanding additional ways to boost probiotic effectiveness.
Deerland Probiotics & Enzymes & Probiotics offers the strain Bacillus subtilis DE111®, a probiotic spore that is clinically proven for its effects on digestive and immune health. It is a highly effective complement to many of the non-spore strains on the market today.
An educational enzyme and probiotic resource
Digestible is your go-to resource for learning about enzymes, probiotics and their impact on digestive health. Keep up with the latest trends in dietary supplements, learn why gut health is critical to overall wellness and immunity, and the science behind it all.
John Davidson has been formulating enzyme based dietary supplements for more than 30 years, with a particular focus in human digestion. Davidson’s wide range of experience encompasses nearly all aspects of supplement manufacturing; including QC/QA, blending, encapsulation, tableting, research & development, product development and technical services. In his current role as the Director of Education and Innovation for Deerland Probiotics & Enzymes, Davidson is responsible for both new product innovation, collaborating with R&D and Sales to bring new products to market.