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Probiotics - A Guide To Taking The Right Supplement

by Carly Neubert, BA, NC on May 22, 2019

I like to call your gut microbiome the “final frontier” of health. Hundreds of years of modern medicine have taught humans a lot about our bodies. But it has only been about a decade since we have been able to examine the bacteria in our gut. New technologies have allowed researchers to explore the world that lives within us: our microbiome.

Top 4 Most Influential Supplements You Can Take

You may be surprised to learn that your probiotics and bad-biotics influence your health even more than your parents do. The organisms that live within you contribute around 8 million genes that affect your everyday life and health. Your parents only gave you 22,000 genes to influence your health. Your cells are wildly outnumbered by the bacterial cells in your gut microbiome. When you change your microbiome by taking probiotics, you are quite literally changing the future of your health.

There are only a few supplements that I recommend across the board. The list is fairly short. It includes vitamin D, magnesium, Omega 3 fish oil, and probiotics. Based on my training and research, I believe these four nutrients have the power to substantially alter your health.

I have suffered for almost 30 years from digestive symptoms. At times the symptoms have been so severe I had to be hospitalized. I have learned a lot about how your gut influences your health and mood. If you are only going to tackle one health challenge at a time, I recommend starting with your gut and digestion.

Supplement Variety - Some Great & Some Bad

I have studied and used supplements for decades. There are cheap supplements and there are expensive supplements. There are supplements that work and many that don’t. Some supplements use doses and ingredients that have been researched and proven to perform. While other companies just use low-quality and junk ingredients. I only recommend supplements that have been scientifically researched.

Most often, these formulas are more expensive because they utilize high-quality ingredients. If you are serious about improving your health, please invest your time and money on therapeutic formulas.

Spore-Form Probiotics From Fermented Foods

Spore-form probiotics are the most convenient and powerful supplements for your microbiome. These strains of probiotics are as old as the earth, and older than mankind. They have evolved as the earth and humans have evolved. Probiotics from fermented foods have also been in the human gut microbiome since the dawn of man. Every culture originally reverenced some type of fermented food.

But as we have developed more and more processed foods, fermented foods have fallen out of favor. When you stop eating fermented foods, you lose health and diversity in your microbiome. Many children and adults have never eaten a fermented food. If you never started eating fermented foods, then your gut has always lacked healthy bacteria.

Rotate Between Spore-Form & Fermented Probiotics

I recommend rotating between a spore-form probiotic and a fermented probiotic supplement. The spore-form supplements are the type that you “should” be getting from working in the garden, being in nature, and eating fresh vegetables. The fermented probiotic supplements are the bacteria that you “should” be getting from eating fermented foods. Both of these supplements can shift your microbiome closer to what it would have looked like if you were a primal/paleo man or woman.

Buying Probiotics - Comparison Chart

If you're shopping for a probiotic and looking for the right supplement, it may get confusing at times trying to figure out which brand and product is right for you. Hopefully, I can make that process a little bit easier for you by providing this comparison of popular probiotics currently on the market. The probiotics I've included within the comparison are Enviromedica's Terraflora, Dr. Ohhira's Original & Professional Probiotics, Prescript Assist, and Align.

Probiotic comparison: Enviromedica Terraflora, Dr. Ohhira Original Formula / Professional Probiotic, Prescript Assist, and Align

There are many factors at play when deciding which probiotic is best for you. Here's a brief review of each of the points mentioned within the comparison: 

  • GRAS or “generally regarded as safe”: Check to make sure that the ingredients and the probiotic strains have been studied and are “generally regarded as safe” for human use.
  • Shelf Stable: Types of probiotics that do not need to be refrigerated. These types of probiotics are more convenient and viable. They are not as sensitive to temperature changes.
  • Prebiotics: Ingredients that act as a food source for probiotics.
  • Probiotics: Bacteria that are helpful for human health.
  • Postbiotics / Synbiotics: Nutrients created by probiotics and prebiotics.
  • DNA: Check to see that the probiotic company uses 3rd party labs to test their probiotics. This ensures that there are no heavy metals or unwanted fungus or bacteria in your probiotic supplement.
  • Traceability: Ensure that the probiotic company tests and tracks each batch of probiotic that they manufacture.
  • Novel Strains:  I recommend a probiotic supplement that contains novel strains of bacteria that you don’t eat or encounter in your daily life. These supplements are often more expensive than a discount store supplement, but they are also more effective.
  • Fermented: If you are not eating fermented foods in your daily diet, I recommend rotating between fermented and spore-form probiotic supplements.
  • Soil-Based Organism or Spore-Form: Strains of bacteria that are found in nature. They are in the “spore-form” which allows them to travel through your stomach acid and implant in your gut.
  • Whole-Food Supplements: Fermented probiotics usually come in fermented foods. Check to ensure that your fermented probiotic is derived from food.
  • Non-GMO: Responsible probiotic companies ensure that their raw ingredients are non-GMO. They perform tests after manufacturing to prevent any contamination.
  • No Pesticides/Herbicides: High-quality probiotic supplement companies check their raw ingredients and only source materials that contain no herbicides or pesticides.
  • Gluten Free: Most of the population is sensitive to the protein found in wheat: gluten.  Often low quality and inexpensive probiotic supplements will be manufactured in the same factory where wheat is processed.  The probiotic can be tainted with microscopic wheat fragments that can irritate your gut lining.
  • Dairy Free: Many individuals are sensitive to dairy products. They are reacting to either the lactose or the casein found in milk. Check your probiotic to ensure that it is dairy free if you are sensitive to milk.

Take Ownership of Your Gut

It is your responsibility to introduce good bacteria into your gut. Your diet and lifestyle must contribute and create an ideal environment for the probiotics to thrive. You can think of probiotics as house guests. You only want nice and helpful house guests and while your house guests are visiting, you want to make their environment as comfortable as possible. Your diet, stress level, and exercise will all contribute to the health of your gut microbiome. Rotate probiotic supplements, eat a Paleo-style diet, and manage your stress for best results.

If you are ready for a personalized gut-health plan, please schedule an appointment with me!

In health,

Carly Neubert BA, NC

For additional recipes, biohacking tips and lifestyle hacks -- check out my other blog on my coaching site www.cleancoachcarly.com! I post weekly about nutrition and lifestyle topics, all backed by science. Happy Reading!