The Best Probiotic Strains and Their Benefits
As more and more studies show the importance of our digestive system’s interaction with other areas of the body, drinkable probiotics and probiotic capsules have gained popularity. In a 2018 review of probiotics, five disorders: necrotizing enterocolitis, acute infectious diarrhea, acute respiratory tract infections, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and infant colic,1 were used to explain the effectiveness of probiotics (live microorganisms). Medical professionals agreed that probiotics could be a healthy option, but with little oversight, the question many still have is which probiotics are best. We hope to answer this question as best as we can with this article.
What are the probiotic strains?
Harmful bacteria in our gut can cause numerous health problems. Some of the medical conditions that happen because of unhealthy bad gut bacteria can be effectively relieved without medication. If you are interested in learning more about how to relieve your unhealthy gut, read more about how to improve digestion naturally.
One of the ways we recommend relieving bad bacteria in your gut is with a probiotic if your doctor says taking a probiotic is right for you. But with hundreds of different probiotic strains, all performing different functions in our bodies, this may send you into panic mode, wondering how you will understand each specific probiotic strain. Probiotics are split into genus, species, and strain. There are two genus that are the most popular and have been proven to provide health benefits for certain people effectively: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.2 Most probiotics will include strains from these two genera.
Lactobacillus is mostly found in the small intestine and vagina, and Bifidobacterium is mostly found in the large intestine or colon. Lactobacillus produces lactic acid and helps control the bad bacteria in our gut. It also helps with the body’s mineral absorption.8 Bifidobacterium, also known as lactic acid bacteria, supports the immune system by limiting the growth of bad bacteria in the intestine. Both help break down lactose.9
In each of these genera, there are separate species of probiotics. In the Lactobacillus genus, for example, four species are often used in probiotics. Lactobacillus acidophilus is found in fermented foods like sauerkraut and miso and is often added to yogurt and other dairy products. This probiotic will break down lactose to lactic acid and could help relieve vaginal and immune conditions.3 Lactobacillus casei4 is a probiotic used to relieve diarrhea and can be found in yogurts, fermented milk, and certain cheeses. Lactobacillus rhamnosus5 is added to yogurts, cheeses, milk, and other dairy products. It also helps cheese ripen and enhances the flavor. As a probiotic, Lactobacillus rhamnosus would support the digestive and immune system. Lactobacillus reuteri is an acid and bile resistant probiotic in your small intestine. This probiotic specie, according to some studies, would promote oral health and would support women’s and heart health.10
It is important to note that the specific characteristics are attributable to the strains and not necessarily the bacterial genera.
Bifidobacterium genus includes probiotic species like Bifidobacterium longum. Specific strains of this species have been associated with the protection of the walls of the intestine from bad bacteria and in helping break down proteins and carbohydrates like lactose. help. Other strains from the Bifidobacterium longum specie have been proven to support digestion and the immune system and also relieve constipation and stress on occasion.11 Another Bifidobacterium probiotic species that has benefitted several infants is Bifidobacterium infantis. A specific strain of this specie, B. intantis CGMCC313-2, has been associated with minimized gastrointestinal distress, aids in the infant’s ability to digest breast milk, and increases good bacteria in the infant’s digestive system.12
Each species in the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus genus is broken down further into strains. Each strain is unique and will benefit different areas of the body. The specificity of these strains is essential because they may compete with each other and lose their effectiveness - this is why it is vital to research the companies and the specific strain(s) they are offering. Probiotic research will better inform you as to how each strain interacts and why some probiotics are more successful than others.
What type of probiotic is best?
We wish there was a quick and easy response to this question, but choosing the best probiotic product for your digestive tract is determined by your unique conditions. As we said earlier, there are millions of bacteria in our bodies, and most of them are located in the gut. These bacteria make up your gut flora (or gut microbiota). To learn more about how to restore healthy gut flora, visit our blog. Your gut flora begins before birth and changes throughout your life because of diet, lifestyle, and other environmental influences, so beneficial bacteria will differ from person to person.
Because we are unique individuals, the impacts outside sources have on our bodies vary greatly. Probiotics are one of the ways we can potentially relieve conditions affecting our bodies, but finding the right genus, species, and strain is important in relieving your condition. Here is a list of physical conditions and which strains of probiotics have been proven to help certain types of people:
1. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – constipation
A combination of Lactobacillus acidophilus PBS066, Lactobacillus reuteri PBS072, and Lactobacillus plantarum PBS067, Lactobacillus rhamnosus LRH020, and Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. Lactis BL050 have shown to help constipation relief in children.13 The results of these strains can be less belching, abdominal fullness, and bloating.
Effective probiotic strains for diarrhea usually include a combination of strains from the genera Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.14 Bio-K+ probiotic strains (L. acidophilus CL1285 ®, L. rhamnosus CLR2®, L. casei LBC80R®) haven also shown in several studies that patients given the higher dose of this probiotic blend concurrent with antibiotics (and for 5 days afterward) had fewer occurrences of antibiotic associated diarrhea and C. difficile associated diarrhea.16
3. Stress, Mood, and Mental Conditions
Stress, mood, and mental health conditions can significantly affect your gut health. Certain studies have shown how stress and gut health intertwine. Probiotics have been able to help some people with anxiety and depression. A recent study showed the effects of L. rhamnosus HN001 given in pregnancy and postpartum on symptoms of maternal depression and anxiety in the postpartum period. Women who received this strain of probiotic had significantly lower depression and anxiety scores in the postpartum period.6
How do I choose a probiotic?
Now that you understand the importance of strains and how they affect different areas of your body, you may be asking how to choose the perfect probiotic for you? Well, in addition to strains, there are a few other signs of a good probiotic.
There are a lot of different probiotics out there, but here are a few signs of how to find the best on the market. In addition to finding a probiotic that matches your current health needs, you should look for the following:
1. Do the strains interact favorably?
It is crucial to find a probiotic that uses strains that interact favorably and do not work against each other. Otherwise, the effectiveness of the probiotic will greatly diminish.15 This is why, even if a probiotic supplement contains twenty different strains, it is important to have clinical studies showing a synergy between strains and the efficiency of the probiotic for a specific condition.
Bio-K+ uses only three probiotic strains : Lactobacillus acidophilus CL1285, Lactobacillus casei LBC80R, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus CLR2 support the digestive and immune system. For over twenty years, the interaction of these strains has been studied by Bio-K+ and other third-party organizations. We have found that these three strains interact best, and with the least competition, to address digestive health.
2. Are there enough Colony Forming Units (CFU)?
The general rule is to take a probiotic that contains at least 1 billion CFUs. At the same time, most successful studies of probiotics have their patients taking at least 10-20 billion CFUs per day,7 and more products are using up to 50-100 billion CFUs. In reality, the most important thing to take into consideration is the studies related to the bacterial count, the strains, and the efficiency on a specific condition. Bio-K+ has different ranges of CFUs for your needs. Our supplement capsules range from 30 to 80 billion CFUs per capsule. Depending on your condition, and if you are trying to combat antibiotic diarrhea, we recommend at least 50 billion CFUs, 2-3 hours after the antibiotics intake and to continue five days after the antibiotic treatment. Our drinkables include 50 billion CFUs per bottle, but daily consumption recommendations range from ¼ to the full bottle.
3. Will the probiotics reach your gut?
A common problem with probiotics is its ineffectiveness. For probiotics to work, they must include live cultures and make it past stomach acid to be effective. Bio-k+ capsules release bacteria in the intestines by an enteric coating or delayed release technology. While in the capsules, the bacteria are in a dormant state (weakened by the freeze-dried process). Bio-K+ drinkable products reach the intestines properly because the bacteria in these drinkable products are active and alive. Active and alive bacteria can survive the gastric passage more, they are not as fragile as the dormant bacteria in the capsules.
There are hundreds of different probiotic strains on the market, and you may have wanted to quit searching before you started. The information provided to you in this article was meant to give you a better idea of what genus, species, and strains will work best for your unique medical condition. We hope you learned a little more about why the interactions of strains are as important as the individual strains are by themselves, and will feel more comfortable about researching the companies and probiotics before using them.
14 Ciorba, Matthew A. “A gastroenterologist's guide to probiotics.” Clinical gastroenterology and hepatology : the official clinical practice journal of the American Gastroenterological Association vol. 10,9 (2012): 960-8. doi:10.1016/j.cgh.2012.03.024,, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3424311/
6 Dinan et al. 2019. Feeding melancholic microbes: MyNewGut recommendations on diet and mood. 2019 Oct;38(5):1995-2001. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2018.11.010. Epub 2018 Nov 17. See also Slykerman et al. 2017. Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 in Pregnancy on Postpartum Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety: A Randomised Double-blind Placebo-controlled Trial. EbioMedicine 24 (2017) 159-165.
16 Gao XW, Mubasher M, Fang CY, et al. Dose-response efficacy of a proprietary probiotic formula of Lactobacillus acidophilus CL1285 and Lactobacillus casei LBC80R for antibiotic-associated diarrhea and Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea prophylaxis in adult patients. Am J Gastroenterol. 2010; 105:1636–1641. [PubMed: 20145608].
4 “How to use this probiotic” Healthline, https://www.healthline.com/health/digestive-health/lactobacillus-casei#:~:text=casei%20is%20naturally%20found%20in,fermented%20milk%2C%20and%20certain%20cheeses.
3 “Is Lactobacillus acidophilus good for health?” Medical News Today,, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324194#:~:text=L.,yogurt%20and%20other%20dairy%20products.
5 “Lactobacillus rhamnosus: A Probiotic With Powerful Benefits” Healthline,, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/lactobacillus-rhamnosus#:~:text=rhamnosus%20is%20available%20as%20a,flavor%20(8%2C%209%20).
10 Mu, Qinghui et al. “Role of Lactobacillus reuteri in Human Health and Diseases.” Frontiers in microbiology vol. 9 757. 19 Apr. 2018, doi:10.3389/fmicb.2018.00757, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5917019/.
11 O'Callaghan, Amy, and Douwe van Sinderen. “Bifidobacteria and Their Role as Members of the Human Gut Microbiota.” Frontiers in microbiology vol. 7 925. 15 Jun. 2016, doi:10.3389/fmicb.2016.00925, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4908950/.
13 Ohkusa, Toshifumi et al. “Gut Microbiota and Chronic Constipation: A Review and Update.” Frontiers in medicine vol. 6 19. 12 Feb. 2019, doi:10.3389/fmed.2019.00019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6379309/.
8 Pessione, Enrica. “Lactic acid bacteria contribution to gut microbiota complexity: lights and shadows.” Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology vol. 2 86. 22 Jun. 2012, doi:10.3389/fcimb.2012.00086, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3417654/.
7 “Probiotics: How Many Billion CFU do I Need to Maintain Daily Digestive Health?” Healthy Science, https://www.nordicnaturals.com/healthy-science/probiotics-how-many-billion-cfu-do-i-need-to-maintain-daily-digestive-health/#ref-3.
1 “Probiotics in Disease Prevention and Treatment” US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6656559/.
9 Ruiz, Lorena et al. “Bifidobacteria and Their Molecular Communication with the Immune System.” Frontiers in microbiology vol. 8 2345. 4 Dec. 2017, doi:10.3389/fmicb.2017.02345, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5722804/.
15 Sanders, M. E., Akkermans, L. M., Haller, D., Hammerman, C., Heimbach, J., Hörmannsperger, G., Huys, G., Levy, D. D., Lutgendorff, F., Mack, D., Phothirath, P., Solano-Aguilar, G., & Vaughan, E. (2010). Safety assessment of probiotics for human use. Gut microbes, 1(3), 164–185. https://doi.org/10.4161/gmic.1.3.12127,, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3023597/.
2 “Science Behind The Probiotics” UAS Labs, https://uaslabs.com/the-best-probiotic-strains-and-what-they-do/.
12 Wong, Chyn Boon et al. “Exploring the Science behind Bifidobacterium breve M-16V in Infant Health.” Nutrients vol. 11,8 1724. 25 Jul. 2019, doi:10.3390/nu11081724, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723912/