How to Find a Good Probiotic
Each person has their own unique microbiome, with different kinds and amounts of bacteria, yeasts, viruses and fungi. Because each person has a different community of gut flora, it may take a couple tries to find the best probiotic suited for your needs. This is one reason why some people say that one brand of probiotic helped them, while others say it did nothing for them at all. Also, some holistic doctors say it’s best to change the species of probiotics that you take from time to time to vary the flora supplemented to your gut.
The potency of a probiotic is measured either in colony forming units (CFU) or as the number of spores per serving. You want higher CFU’s when choosing non-spore forming probiotics as opposed to spore formers. This is because non-spore formers such as Lactobacillus species are fragile and they lose much of their potency on storage and while passing through your stomach.
Be aware that CFU values can be misleading because they are measured at the time of production and much of the potency may be lost during shipping, storage and after passing through your stomach. In fact, the Food Safety Authority of the UK states that 90% of non-spore forming probiotic product strains are killed by your stomach before ever reaching your intestines1. In contrast, probiotics made from spores are much more stable and don’t require refrigeration.
Other Sources of ProbioticsIn addition to taking probiotic supplements, eating fermented foods is another way to support your microbiome. Eating freshly made and non-pasteurized raw sauerkraut, kefir, miso, natto or Kombucha tea is a great way to get more probiotics. Many people with C. diff. have noted that raw probiotic foods really helped ease their symptoms, but only if well tolerated. Other important ways to improve your gut flora balance include eating whole raw foods, avoiding sugar and processed foods, avoiding stress and minimizing the use of antibiotic drugs.
Using a probiotic is one of the most important ways to shift the balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria inside your gut. Doing so can help swing the balance in your favor for a speedier C. diff. recovery. Probiotics are very well tolerated by most people, but starting slowly may be needed for especially potent strains. And because probiotics are live organisms that may stimulate your immune system, if you are severely immune-compromised, you should discuss probiotic use with your doctor before taking probiotic supplements.
Michelle Moore’s book C. Difficile Treatments & Remedies contains a detailed chapter about probiotics, along with details on how to get Michelle’s recommended brand of physician’s strength probiotics.
1. The Food Standards Agency conducted a study in conjunction with Reading University (Dr. G.R.Gibson, Dr. G. Rouzaud, Dr. J. Brostoff and Dr. N. Rayment) in the United Kingdom to evaluate the probiotic effect of commercial products in the human gut, and whether there was any impact on gut flora. The study evaluated the survivability of common probiotics through the gut,examining 35 strains from commercial products, primarily Lactobacillus sp. and Bifidobacterium sp.
Image credits: Bacteria combo graphic ©CDC and ©Lester Moore, Human tree ©freshidea/Fotolia, Supplement bottles ©Elenathewise/Fotolia, raw foods ©peangdao/Fotolia.