Probiotics can be a complete mindfield! Should you take with food or on an empty stomach, liquid form or in a capsule, keep refrigerated or in a cool dark place… and what's with all the long names of the strains! Don't worry I'm here to give you a quick low down on the different types, and what can be most beneficial to each and every one of us. I want to make sure you aren't wasting your money or the valuable benefits that taking a good quality probiotic can bring you.
Probiotics as we all know are the ‘good bacteria’, and they all have various beneficial functions. Which is why you may notice that some are specifically for women, the menopause, for men, for travellers going abroad, for babies etc, this is because we all have such a vast and diverse microbiome so its important to find something that matches our needs. A specific probiotic can help with the prevention of gastrointestinal conditions, supporting the immune system, promoting skin health, hormone balance, vaginal health, balancing the intestinal microbes and of course reducing traveller’s diarrhoea.
There are a few key things I look for when buying my probiotic. Most vitally the probiotic strain must be alive. Whichever one you choose it MUST be alive when ingested and be able to tolerate the journey it undergoes to reach your stomach where the work can begin. It needs to be able to tolerate and survive through acid and bile (the stomach and the surroundings of the gastrointestinal system have the highest acidity) otherwise its dead before it even reaches its work place.
L.acidophilus is quite possibly the most vital strain of Lactobacillus bacteria. It congregates densely in your intestine and helps to maintain intestinal wall integrity. It also supports your digestive function and ensures proper nutrient absorption which is so so important!
It helps ease the following issues:
- Diarrhea relief
- Protects intestinal flora from antibiotics so take AFTER your course of antibiotics
- Vaginal and urinary tract health
- Cholesterol and blood pressure
- Fungal and bacterial infections like candida
- Allergy relief
- Bloating and gas
Lactobacillus is another star strain, it's great for overall gut health and for helping to support immune system (As we know that's housed in our guts)
L.rhamnosus, one of the most popular strains to take when traveling.It can be really beneficial if you suffer from a sensitive tummy. Due to the fact that it can survive the journey through the entire GI tract it's a brilliant one for vaginal health and those pesky UTI’s.
L.paracasei is beneficial if you suffer from low energy, chronic fatigue, keep getting coughs and colds etc, generally if you feel a little off. It helps to support liver and immune function which is why it is in my opinion of the most powerful strains.
B.infantis - this strain is most beneficial for young babies and important to get them on probiotic after birth especially if you didn't have a natural birth.