Bacteria Strains You Should Always Look for in a Probiotic
Your microbiome is composed of bacteria, fungi, and many other beneficial microbes. In fact, there are hundreds of unique strains of bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract that play critical roles in maintaining your gut health.
Poor health choices and diet, taking powerful antibiotics, and not receiving high quality sleep can decrease the number of good bacteria in your gut. An insufficient amount of gut bacteria can cause poor immune communication and response, leading to higher infection rates.
Potential ways to avoid these negative outcomes include resetting your digestive system and reviving your microflora by consuming probiotic foods and taking a gut cleanse.
If your diet lacks probiotics, consider adding a supplement that contains live strains of bacteria to prevent microbiome depletion. Ensure you’re picking a probiotic with various bacteria strains, as each strain contains different benefits and properties, which can help balance your microbiome.
Benefits of Consuming the Right Bacteria Strains
Hundreds of good bacteria strains, along with trillions of other valuable microorganisms, live in your large intestine. These strains of bacteria are known for their wide variety of health benefits. The primary benefits of good gut bacteria include:
- Improving digestion – Certain bacteria strains digest prebiotics and fiber, producing short-chain fatty acids that are essential sources of energy for gut bacteria.
- Immune system regulation – A healthy gut microbiome communicates with the immune system and controls responses to potential pathogens to prevent infection.
- Influencing brain health – Research suggests gut microflora is connected to enhancing brain health via the central nervous system, which improves mood and moderates depression symptoms.
Increasing your consumption of ‘good’ bacteria can improve your digestive, immune, and mental health. However, it is essential to note the importance of selecting a supplement with bacteria strains that provide a wide variety of benefits to your microbiome and that can survive in the gastrointestinal environment.
Beneficial Bacteria Strains You Should Always Look For in a Probiotic
Interestingly enough, the beneficial bacteria strains you should look for in a probiotic supplement are typically bacteria that already inhabit your gut. Some of the most effective strains include the following:
Bifidobacterium breve is an essential bacteria for your gut health. It produces vitamins and chemicals necessary for regulating the immune system. Additionally, it can digest prebiotics and fiber, producing short-chain fatty acids used by the gut.
This species of Bifidobacterium has also been linked to the prevention of ‘leaky gut syndrome,’ as it seals gaps between intestinal cells to prevent leakage and the infestation of toxins.
L. acidophilus and L. rhamnosus
Bacteria belonging to the Lactobacillus family are very popular probiotics that can be found in supplements, as well as yogurt and fermented foods. "Two particular strains from this family, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus rhamnosus, make up a large portion of your good gut bacteria.
Both bacteria from the Lactobacillus family are best known for their ability to help the digestive system breakdown the sugars in milk (‘lactose’) by producing an enzyme called ‘lactase.’
Other shared benefits include boosting immune response rates, preventing and treating vaginal infections, and easing some common allergy symptoms. Research also suggests that this bacteria strain may aid in controlling weight over the lifespan.
While these two bacteria stains have many similar functions, the reason you want to look for both in a probiotic is because they differ in the way they benefit your overall health.
For example, L. rhamnosus has been known to treat acne and protect teeth from cavities by strengthening enamel. This strain may also work alongside B. breve to prevent the development of leaky gut. In contrast, L. acidophilus has been shown to play a role in moderating food intolerances, preventing vaginal yeast infections, and boosting mental health by minimizing symptoms of fatigue and depression.
Though Saccharomyces boulardii is not a strain of bacteria, it’s still a beneficial microbe with powerful probiotic functions. S. boulardii is a good fungi, specifically known as a probiotic yeast, that lives and cohabitates in the gut with other microbes that provide gastrointestinal benefits.
Its primary function is to regulate digestion and provide a protective lining for the intestines to fend away harmful pathogens and infections. For example, working alongside L. acidophilus to prevent harmful vaginal yeast infections like vaginal candidiasis.
Improve Your Gut Microbiome by Choosing the Right Probiotic
Boost your microflora with a probiotic that is produced by a reputable company, is made with high-quality ingredients, and contains powerful bacteria strains and beneficial yeast that add to cultures already living in your gut.
Look for supplements that contain between 10 to 50 billion CFUs per dose, as probiotics containing over 50 billion CFU have not been proven to provide any excessive benefits. Seeking a non-refrigerated option is also preferred due to faster bacteria metabolism connected to moderate storage temperatures. Also, examine your label for an expiration date and quality claims such as ‘live cultures guaranteed’ to ensure you are purchasing an effective product.
About the Author:
Allison Lansman, RDN, LD is a freelance writer and owner of The Freelance RD Nutrition Writing Services. She is passionate about creating exciting, research-based nutrition blog posts with her professional background as a dietitian. Allie prioritizes creating articles all readers can understand and incorporate into their daily lives.