Which Are The Best Probiotics Supplements For Optimum Gut Health?

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Truth About Probiotics And Your Digestive Health?

Good digestive function is essential to one’s overall health. Studies have shown that promoting sound gut health can result in a better mood. Rebekah Gross, MD, a clinical gastroenterologist at NYU Langone Medical Center was quoted in Fitness Magazine as saying, “The brain influences the digestive tract and vice versa.” Meaning that the upset feeling that is centered in the pit of your stomach when upset may not be a figment of your imagination. The health of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and colon impact one’s overall health, including mental wellness.

Digestive health begins with the foods we eat and the probiotics in those foods. So what are the best probiotics for gut health? Let’s begin with where our diets have gone wrong.

Diet Fails

Today’s society lives off of fast foods, pre-made meals, and comfort foods. These processed products are high in sugar and fat. Processed foods can destroy the good bacteria that keeps people healthy, instead filling the body with bad bacteria and harmful yeast.

Originally, the human diet consisted of fermented foods that encouraged gut flora. However, through the years, we switched to prepared foods that reverse the process and destroy the healthy balance of gut bacteria. Foods to avoid include:

  • Sterilized foods, such as milk, is pasteurized to extend shelf life, but the process alters proteins, flavor, and beneficial bacteria.
  • Foods that contain artificial food coloring, such as Cheetos or Froot Loops, may look pretty, but can exhibit antibacterial and antifungal properties.
  • Altered fats in food products, such as in margarine, can cause many problems, including permeable cell walls, which results in allergies, toxicity, and chronic immune issues. The cell wall must be healthy, as it is where protective bacterial microflora lives.
  • People tend to eat a lot more carbohydrates. Pathogenic bacteria and yeast both feed on the sugar found in carbohydrates, throwing off the balance between the good and bad bacteria in the body.

Diet Wins: Best Probiotics for Gut Health

Probiotics can be found in foods, but finding the best probiotics for gut health can be tricky. Oftentimes, companies advertise probiotics in kefir or yogurt, but they do not contain live cultures or have excessive amounts of sugar. Pasteurized versions, as mentioned above, are not as effective. Also be wary of products with artificial colorings, high fructose corn syrup, or artificial sweeteners.

Foods with the best probiotics for gut health include:

  • Yogurt with “live and active cultures” listed on the label
  • Sauerkraut that is unpasteurized
  • Miso soup
  • Kefir that is low in sugar and contains live cultures
  • Fermented soft cheeses, such as Gouda
  • Cultured vegetables, particularly those made from organic foods

Best Probiotic Supplements For Gut Health

Sometimes people are unable to consume the best food options for a healthy digestive tract. In this case, they may choose to take a supplement to aid in their quest for a healthy digestive system. The market is saturated with probiotic supplements for gut health, so choosing the best product requires a little bit of research. When evaluating available options, consider the following criteria:

  • Which probiotic strains are included
  • The product’s packaging
  • Product expiration dates
  • Money back guarantee

Specific Probiotic Strains

Scientists have not determined exactly how many different strains of probiotic bacteria are in the gut, nor do they know if more is necessarily better. Therefore, do not choose a probiotic supplement based solely on the sheer number of bacteria, but rather, select one that has a number of different strains of bacteria listed in its ingredients. Since each strain offers a different function and affects a different area of the digestive tract, the variety of bacteria in each supplement is the best indicator of its effectiveness.

The five most important strains of probiotics for gut health are:

  • acidophilus – This strain colonizes on the small intestine walls to support nutrient absorption and aids in the digestion of dairy products.
  • longum – One of the most commonly found bacteria in adult digestive tracts. It helps maintain the health of the gut wall and actively consumes toxins.
  • bifidum – Found naturally in both the small and large intestines, this bacteria helps digest dairy, particularly as one ages. It also breaks down complex carbohydrates, protein, and fat for easier use by the body.
  • fermentum – It helps develop a healthy level of gut bacteria and neutralizes some of the byproducts of digestion.
  • rhamnosus – Referred to as a “travel probiotic,” this strain can prevent traveler’s diarrhea.

Packaging For The Best Probiotics For Gut Health

Because bacteria must remain alive and healthy while it is at the store and in the home, the packaging is very important. The supplement must also be able to be digested by the body properly. A probiotics supplement with bacteria that dies on the store shelf or even in the stomach is worthless.

A supplement that is available in a controlled-release caplet or tablet, capsule, or “beadlet” are the best options. Since the form of the supplement is so essential to the product, the company will advertise it clearly on the packaging as a selling point. Take note and ensure that the supplement comes in a form that ensures the bacteria survives its trip to the buyer’s home and the user’s stomach acid.

Exterior packaging is also important, since bacteria can be affected by environmental conditions such as temperature, moisture, and light. Packaging should state clearly if a supplement must be refrigerated, and it must be kept cool even in the store. To prevent exposure from light, which could affect the health of bacteria, look for thick, opaque containers. Desiccant pouches or blister packs are designed to keep the product dry.

Manufacturer Standards On The Best Probiotics For Gut Health

Since the industry does not require packaging to have expiration dates, supplements with a marked expiration date reveal the quality of the supplement and the dedication of the manufacturer. This means that the product will maintain potency with active bacteria until the date listed. If an expiration is not listed on the packaging or label, then there is no way to know how long the bacteria will remain active or how long it’s been on the store shelf.

In addition to an expiration date, manufactures should also offer a money-back guarantee. If the probiotics supplement truly works, the company should stand by it and promise a refund if the buyer is unsatisfied with the results.

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