Probiotics is a buzzword these days that everyone is throwing around, but a lot of people don’t know exactly what they are or why we need them. And when it comes to shopping for the best probiotic supplements, it can be overwhelming even knowing where to start. This guide to probiotics will help if that’s you.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria. Wait a minute, you’re thinking, I thought bacteria was the stuff that makes us sick. There are actually good bacteria and bad bacteria, and probiotics are the good bacteria. Our bodies are full of both kinds of bacteria and probiotics are the helpful ones that help keep us well. These bacteria line our digestive tract and help our body be able to absorb nutrients and fight infection. Our goal is to have the right balance of good and bad bacteria in our guts.
How do Probiotics Help Us?
Having the proper balance of good and bad bacteria can help our bodies function properly. Researchers are discovering more and more how good gut health is the key to good overall health. Hippocrates said, “All disease starts in the gut.” Poor gut health can result in food sensitivities (I wish I would have known about the importance of probiotics when my son Luke was an infant and suffered from multiple food sensitivities), inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, asthma, thyroid problems, skin conditions, and mood issues (source). Probiotics help keep our guts healthy. Clearly, it’s important for everyone to ensure their guts have the right balance of helpful bacteria.
Different strains of probiotics do different things. Some support digestion, others your immune system, and some are known to help burn fat and balance hormones. I’m not going to list and name every strain; I know you won’t likely memorize them anyway (I haven’t). Your best bet is to get a wide variety of probiotic strains. Keep reading to find out how you can make sure you’re getting all the probiotics you need. If you’d like to read about the specific strains, this is a good resource.
How Do I Get Probiotics?
You can get probiotics from your food or through a supplement. Most people do best with eating a wide variety of probiotic-rich foods and taking a quality supplement with at least 10 different strains of probiotics. Here are some fermented foods that are rich in probiotics:
- sourdough bread
I don’t eat nearly enough of these foods to ensure I’m maintaining proper gut health. Instead, I choose to take a supplement. Everyone in my family takes probiotics daily. Let me help you choose the best probiotic supplements.
The Best Probiotic Supplements
How can you be sure you’re taking a quality probiotic supplement? I recently came across an in-depth report that reinforced I’ve chosen the best brands for my family. Reviews.com is a website dedicated to conducting unbiased and in-depth research about products and services. They spent six weeks researching and testing 277 top-rated probiotic supplements. With the help of nutrition specialists, natural medicine doctors, microbiologists, 169 clinical studies and third-party lab tests, they dug into why probiotics work, what the best strains are and what they can actually do for your health. In the end, they found eight supplements that don’t have junk ingredients, have several strains of helpful bacteria, lasting shelf lives and evidence of their efficacy. I was so happy to see the brands I’d already chosen to use made the cut! Let me share with you their top picks and then you can check out the report for yourself.
Best Probiotic for General Health
Runner-up for Best Probiotic for General Health &
Best Probiotic for Weight Loss
*Custom Probiotics 11 Strain Probiotic Powder was listed as the top pick in this category and the Garden of Life product was the runner-up, however, the Custom Probiotic product was listed as not available on their website.
Best Probiotic for Immune Boosting
Best Probiotics for IBS/IBD/Accute Infectious Diarrhea
Best Probiotic for Anxiety and Allergies
You can check out the rest of their top picks and the full report here. The report did not include best pick for children, but I am including my picks below based on what I’ve chosen for my children. We have used both of these and usually go with whichever is on sale; the report endorsed both brands.
Best Probiotic Supplements for Children
I think everyone needs to take probiotic supplements; our modern diet simply doesn’t provide enough fermented foods to keep our gut flora in proper balance. It is a great defense to keep your family healthy year round.
Links to products in this post are affiliate links. That means that if you purchase through these links, at no extra cost to you, I will receive a percentage of the sale. Thank you for supporting Happy Healthy Mama!