Probiotics are a hot topic right now and you’ve likely seen probiotic products inundating your local stores & newsfeeds. You might be aware that they are good for you, but do you know what probiotics actually do, in what circumstances you might need them and what features to look out for when selecting a probiotic supplement?
What exactly are probiotics?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines probiotics as ‘live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host’.1 In simplified terms, beneficial bacteria that support our health. Probiotics can be found in fermented food sources like kefir, buttermilk, kimchi, yoghurt and sauerkraut or in a supplement form. Probiotics naturally live in the body in what’s called the “gut microbiome”. The gut microbiome is made up of trillions of microbes, like bacteria, that are involved in many functions essential to our health and wellbeing. From helping with digestion and helping our bodies absorb nutrients, to supporting immunity and even having an impact on our brain function and mood.
Research is continuing to emerge on all the benefits probiotics provide the body, but what we’ve established for now is that they:2
- Support the balance of healthy bacteria in the gut
- Influence healthy immune responses
- Maintain the health of the gut barrier lining
- Help prevent the overgrowth of harmful bacteria
Some strains have also been shown to support skin health, reduce symptoms of medically diagnosed Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), relieve gas, bloating and digestive discomfort, and maintain urinary tract and vaginal health.
Why would I need to take a probiotic?
Despite our best efforts, there are many disturbances of daily life that can throw our gut microbiome off kilter, including stress, the use of antibiotics, alcohol consumption, eating processed foods and ageing. This is where adding probiotics to your daily routine may be helpful. Supplementing with probiotics can help restore the balance of healthy gut bacteria, support normal digestive function, assist immunity and maintain ongoing wellness.
There are also probiotics that target specific health concerns and may help with the symptoms and management of a particular condition. For example, IBS, eczema and skin health issues, gastro and heartburn relief, as well as probiotics for when you’re taking antibiotics, and formulas specific for kids health.
Things to consider when selecting a probiotic
When selecting the right probiotic for your needs, you’ll need to pay close attention to the types of strains used, the potency of the product and its quality. Here’s why these things matter:
While all probiotics are good for you, the therapeutic benefits of probiotics vary greatly from strain to strain. You’ll need to choose the right one to address your particular health concern, as shown in research. It’s also important to look for strains that are supported by evidence from human clinical trials. Inner Health has done all the hard work for you. Every Inner Health probiotic provides strains and strain combinations that are evidence-based and targeted towards a specific condition or set of symptoms, whether that’s for daily support, gut restoration after antibiotic use or to help with a specific health concern like IBS or eczema.
The probiotic dose is just as important as the strain. Probiotics are measured in colony-forming units (or CFUs), which refers to the number of viable bacterial cells present in each dose of the supplement. Too few CFUs and the product may be ineffective, too high and the product may have unexpected outcomes. Inner Health probiotics are based on a specific and appropriate dosage backed by research to deliver the specified health benefit stated on each pack.
Quality and stability
Choosing a high quality probiotic should be top priority. Afterall, the strain and dose won’t matter if the probiotics aren’t alive when you take them. Probiotics are delicate and require careful and correct storage in order to stay alive. They are especially affected by temperature fluctuations and moisture. Inner Health probiotics are either protected by refrigeration or our revolutionary Activ-Vial technology, to make sure the bacteria remain alive and stable long after the bottle is opened. Activ-Vial provides 10 times the probiotic protection of the industry standard for shelf stable probiotics, so you can rest assured the bacteria are live and active and you can get the benefits you’re after.
- FAO/WHO, 2001, Report on Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Evaluation of Health and Nutritional Properties of Probiotics in Food Including Powder Milk with Live Lactic Acid Bacteria < http://pc.ilele.hk/public/pdf/20190225/bd3689dfc2fd663bb36def1b672ce0a4.pdf>
- Kechagia, Maria et al, 2013, ‘Health benefits of probiotics: a review’, ISRN nutr, vol 2013