Improve your immunity, digestive balance, and overall wellness with these dietitian-approved tips for choosing a probiotic for digestive health!
This post is sponsored by Renew Life® Probiotics. As always all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Lively Table running!
You eat a balanced diet, exercise, try to get enough sleep, and do your best to manage stress. You want to do more for your healthy lifestyle so you think you should improve your gut health, too. You decide to try a daily probiotic, so go to the store to grab some and...woah...
Confused by probiotics? You’re not the only one.
Gut health has all of a sudden exploded as a trendy health topic, which is great since a healthy gut influences so much! I’m sure that by now you’ve heard that probiotics can help support a healthy digestive system, immunity, chronic disease, and more. A probiotic can be especially important for supporting your gut and overall health if you’ve been taking antibiotics, are under a lot of stress, or have digestive problems.
But there is a lot of conflicting information out there, and there’s still a lot of research that needs to be done. And of course, everything in stores is now touting probiotics on the label. So how do you choose a probiotic for your health goals when there are so many options available?
While we still don’t know everything about probiotics, especially when it comes to making evidence-based recommendations, there are a few ways to make sure you’re making the best choice for your digestive health goals.
Here are things to look for when choosing a probiotic for digestive health:
There are literally billions of bacteria living in your gut, and there are hundreds of different strains! Unfortunately, not all of them have been studied thoroughly, if at all. So how do you know which one you need?
First, you want strains that have been scientifically researched. The most studied strains are those of the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species, and many have proven health benefits. But one strain doesn’t necessarily do the same thing as another, so you need to choose the right strains for what you want to achieve. In general you want multiple strains in a probiotic supplement to reflect the diversity of a naturally healthy gut.
In addition to the right type of bacteria, you also need a sufficient amount for probiotics to be effective. Probiotic counts are usually measured in colony-forming units, or CFU, which tells you the number of live bacteria inside a certain supplement. Generally, you want to look for one with at least 15 billion CFU for optimal results, though some strains are effective at higher or lower doses.
You also want to make sure the bacteria are still alive when they get to your gut. Because all those CFU don’t do anything for you if they’re dead. Look for a delayed-release capsule or some sort of coating that protects the bacteria from being degraded by stomach acid and in early digestion. (Those good bugs are also sensitive to light and high temperatures, so don’t lock your probiotics in a hot car!) Also make sure to look for an expiration date on your probiotic. Since the cultures are living, they won’t last forever. You want to make sure that you’re not buying an old supplement that’s already expired. The manufacturer should also guarantee the life of the cultures through the expiration date.
Probiotics are usually sold as supplements in the US, meaning they don’t go through the same testing and tight regulation as medication. So you want to make sure the supplement actually contains what it says it does. Nobody wants to pay for something they aren’t actually getting, right? Look for a probiotic that’s had some sort of testing for purity, quality and potency, whether by the manufacturer or a third party.
Renew Life Ultimate Flora Probiotics not only contain multiple scientifically studied strains of good bacteria and billions of live cultures that reflect the natural diversity of your gut, but they are also quality tested for potency and purity, guaranteed through expiration. And they are free of artificial ingredients, colors, preservatives, or other unnecessary materials of any kind, so you know you’re getting quality, powerful immune and digestive support. Renew Life Ultimate Flora Probiotics are available in several formulations to fit your specific needs, like Women's Health, Men's Health, Extra Care, and Kids. I’m especially loving the Prenatal formula to help support Little M’s development while I’m breastfeeding.
Of course, no supplement is a magic bullet when it comes to health. To maintain good gut (and overall) health, you should still eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods - including those with probiotics and with prebiotic fiber. Foods with high fiber content and/or resistant starch help “feed” the good bacteria in your gut to keep them thriving. Prebiotic foods include bananas (the greener the better), onions, garlic, whole grains like oats, barley, and wheat bran, beans and lentils, corn, nuts, leafy greens, and asparagus. So dish up some fiber with your daily probiotic to help it work harder for you. And of course, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor about any supplements you’re taking.
Bottom line: If you’re looking to keep your complex digestive system thriving and restore the good bacteria in your gut, consume a balanced diet that includes plenty of prebiotics and probiotics, and consider adding a scientifically studied, multi-strain, quality-tested and potent probiotic, like Renew Life Ultimate Flora Probiotics, to your daily routine.
The statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.