Probiotics – all the cool kids are using them these. There’s an interesting health dichotomy going on – antibiotics are the selling point of many cleaners, and bacterial supplements are increasing in popularity. There’s a whole ecosystem going on in your gut, and everybody’s looking for ways to improve it. So, do results from taking probiotics match the hype, or are probiotics the new snake oil?
If you’re looking to buy probiotics for the first time, you need to understand which strains have been associated with which health benefits. There’s still more research that needs to be done, but according to MedicineNet, the following strains claim to have the following medical benefits:
- Lactobacillus has been used to treat & prevent skin conditions, UTIs & yeast infections, and digestive issues such as IBS and diarrhea. This is a strain that you find in a lot of yogurts (but if you don’t eat yogurt because you’re dairy-free like me, there are a lot of supplements that contain lactobacillus).
- Bifidobacteria has been shown to improve IBS, dental cavities, glucose tolerance, and improve blood lipids.
- S. boulardii appears to help prevent and treat diarrhea caused by traveler’s diarrhea and certain stomach bugs (H. pylori and C. diff)
- Streptococcus thermophilus is said to increase lactase, which may help treat or prevent lactose intolerance, so this strain is of particular interest.
My personal history with probiotics is still in its early stages. I’ve taken probiotics religiously on and off, and am most diligent about them when taking antibiotics. I’m not sure if I’ve found the perfect ones for me yet, but I have heard that each strain interacts with people in a different way, which makes sense. Lately I’ve been taking two types of probiotics to help improve my digestion: Florajen3 which contains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria strains. They are dairy-free as well as free of a lot of other allergens. The pills are supposed to help strengthen the immune system and improve digestion, but as of yet, it’s still too soon to tell if they’re having that much of a positive effect.
I also very recently started taking Digestive Advantage. The strain included is called Bacillus Coagulens BC30 and it’s supposed to have better bacteria survivability than other pills. I guess I’ll have to wait and see.
So, the jury’s still out on probiotics as to whether or not they’re a great thing for everyone. There have been enough studies that look promising – probiotics are obviously having positive benefits on some people – but not enough that someone can come in with an ailment and a doctor can prescribe a specific one to cure what ails them.
What about you – have you taken probiotics in the past? Do you take them daily? Is there a type you swear by? I also look for the dairy-free ones, but are there certain things you need to make sure your probiotics don’t contain? Comment here or email me at [email protected]