Probiotics for Gut Health and Beyond
Go with Your Gut: A Guide to Probiotics
In recent years, the number of gut-related doctor visits has been as high as 30 million annually.1 And more and more people are turning to probiotics to help support gastrointestinal (GI) health. What many do not know is that these tiny, “friendly” bugs can be beneficial for more than just gut health.
Your body contains a delicate balance of diverse bacteria. Probiotics act as “friendly” bacteria and are an important ally to help support your intestinal ecosystem. It’s important to know, however, that these microscopic organisms do not all share the same personality.
Strain Identification and Why It Matters
Many probiotic formulas on the market are nonspecific about their applications. And that’s no surprise—considering many of these formulas contain organisms that are not strain-identified. This makes it even more difficult to choose the right formula. In fact, only a handful of probiotic strains have been researched extensively.
Make sure you pay attention to the product label, and look for a genus, species, and strain (e.g., Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM). This should appear as two long Latin words (genus first and species second) followed by a series of capitalized letters and/or numbers (the strain). Keep this tip in mind when you shop for a probiotic formula.
Different Strains for Different “Gains”
There is no one-size-fits-all formula. Scientific evidence has indicated that the effectiveness of probiotics for targeted areas of health support depends on the strain.2 That’s why it’s important to consult your healthcare practitioner before starting a probiotic regimen.
Refer to this quick guide for a better understanding of probiotic strains and their health benefits.
- Gastrointestinal health
- Digestive health is the most studied area of probiotic research, and GI support is one of the most common reasons people seek probiotics. Many commercial-grade formulas such as probiotic drinks, yogurts, and other fermented food products claim to benefit gut microbiota. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to know what strains you are receiving in these products if they’re not listed.
- Some strains, such as Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07® and Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM®, have been extensively researched to beneficially influence your gut microbiota and act as general maintenance probiotics for gut health.3,4 The yeast Saccharomyces boulardii has been found to help provide targeted relief from acute symptoms—which may be used when you experience occasional digestive distress rather than a probiotic for daily support.5*
- Immune health
- A whopping 70% of your immune system is located in your gut.6 Bacteria in the intestine may help regulate immune cell activity, 7 which allows probiotics to be potentially helpful for supporting immune function. Although it is commonly believed that probiotics exert their benefits by directly impacting gut composition and supporting the physical gut barrier, the interaction between these friendly bugs and immune cells also deserves a special note.8*
- Weight maintenance
- Body weight maintenance is an important consideration for any lifestyle.9 Clinical research on probiotic strain Bifidobacterium lactis B-420™ has indicated it may help contribute to body weight maintenance.10*
- Children’s health
- Children can also benefit from probiotics. Probiotic strains like Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis BB-12® and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG® have a long history of use in infants. And for children, Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM® and Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07® have been shown to help support healthy immune function.11*
- Women’s health
- Clinically researched strains Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1® and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14® may help maintain vaginal microbiota and support urogenital health.12-16*
Before you decide to start a probiotic regimen, determine the reasons you’d like to start taking one. With so many options on the market, it’s important to pay attention to strain identification and look for proof of scientific research that backs health claims. And remember, your healthcare practitioner is best equipped to recommend protocols that fit your unique health needs.
Submitted by the Metagenics Marketing Team
- https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/digestive-diseases.htm. Accessed May 1, 2018.
- McFarland LV et al. Front Med. 2018;5:124.
- Ringel-Kulka T et al. J Clin Gastroenter. 2011;45:518-525.
- Leyer GJ et al. Pediatrics. 2009;124:e172-179.
- Kelesidis T. Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2012;5(2):111–125.
- Vighi G et al. Clin Exp Immunol. 2008;153(Suppl 1):3–6.
- Bermudez-Brito M et al. Ann Nutr Metab. 2012;61(2):160-174.
- https://isappscience.org/infographic-dispelling-myths/. Accessed April 13, 2018.
- Loman T et al. BMC Public Health. 2013;13:259.
- Stenman LK et al. EBioMedicine. 2016;13:190-200.
- Leyer GJ et al. 2009;123(2):172-9.
- Reid G. Appl Environ Microbiol. 1999;65(9):3763-3766.
- Reid G et al. FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2001;32(1):37-41.
- Reid G et al. J Med Food. 2004;7(2):223-228.
- Reid G et al. FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2003;35(2):131-134.
- Reid G et al. FEMS Immunol & Med Microbiol. 2006;30(1):49-52.
NCFM® are Bi-07® are registered trademarks licensed by DuPont.
BB-12® is a registered trademark of Chr. Hansen A/S.
LGG® is a registered trademark of Chr. Hansen.