Selecting and Using Probiotic Supplements

Even though probiotic-rich foods should be an important part of your life, you probably need probiotic supplements to ingest enough bacteria to make a difference. Supplements are especially important if you’re treating a specific illness, such as inflammatory bowel disease or other health issues.

Even people in the medical profession would be lost in the supplements aisle of the grocery store shopping for probiotics. Because the research is still in its infancy, specific recommendations about how much good bacteria you should take (or, in some cases, which strain will help particular diseases) just aren’t available.

However, here are some points to keep in mind:

What goes in your mouth does not necessarily reach your colon.

Good  bacteria can’t help you if they don’t survive your stomach acid. Look for products labeled “encapsulated” or some other indication that they use technology to help the good bacteria reach your colon.

More strains of bacteria are better than one.

Make sure your supplement includes Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria strains. Also check for prebiotic ingredients like inulin; prebiotics make the probiotic bacteria more effective. (Probulin is a good example of this kindof supplement.)

Always check the expiration date and storage information.

Some supplements need to be chilled; even those that don’t require refrigeration should be stored away from heat. Heat destroys probiotic bacteria, so don’t drink coffee, hot tea, or other hot beverages for an hour after you take probiotics in any form — either as a supplement or in foods.

✓ Good probiotic supplements include prebiotics.

The good probiotic supplements include fiber (prebiotics) which serves as “food” for the probiotic bacteria. Including insoluble fiber ensures probiotic have enough food for energy and growth once they reach the gut.

So next time you head to the store or go online for your supply of probiotic supplements, be sure to check the supplement facts on the bottle.

Go with your health,

Probiotic Team

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