It’s confusing, we are after all humans and therefore may find it difficult to make the right decision especially when there is a sea of information available. I am talking about nothing but probiotic supplements. We now know the answer to the question “what are probiotics?" that they are very good for health as they help heal the gut. We also know that there are a lot of foods that work as probiotics, however how do we understand what works and what doesn’t, what if you don’t like the taste of best probiotic foods like sauerkraut, would you have to forget about these wonder bacteria and their amazing benefits and just say “it was not meant for me"? Well not at all. This is where you can actually think about popping a pill. Sounds good? Read on to find out how.
What are probiotic supplements?
Bacteria are normally considered to be the villains, but not these. Probiotics are live organisms which are identical to the good bacteria found in the human digestive system. There is enough research that substantiates the benefits of these probiotics, especially when it comes to immunity, digestion and maintaining youthfulness of the skin. Ladies, do you hear that?
Probiotics are pretty easy to find, they are found in homemade food that you generally consume on a daily basis, for example yogurt. Unfortunately, with time we come to a point where the naturally occurring probiotics are no more available because of artificial manufacturing practices and even due to refrigeration. The presence of antibiotics in food kills the beneficial bacteria making it nearly mandatory to take probiotic capsules. Choosing the probiotic source is solely one’s own discretion, it depends mainly on the preference of the individual and the type of probiotic needed.
What to look for in a Probiotic Supplement?
You can say I’m crazy if I say that the best probiotic supplement looks appetizing, perfectly shaped and inviting to the eyes. In reality there are multiple things to look for when choosing a probiotic supplement. Listed below are the most important features.
Various probiotic supplements are differentiated on the basis of the strain or the different bacteria each of them contain. Each strain has a specific purpose and play a different role in improving health of an individual. One needs to choose a probiotic supplement that contains strains that are researched on extensively. Though fermented foods do contain probiotics, it is very difficult to attain the potency present in good supplements. If you find live, active cultures like Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus Bifidus then know that you are sorted, because these two are the best out of hundreds of other cultures that exist.
The journey from the mouth to the digestive system is not easy at all. This is exactly why you need a probiotic supplement with a lot of organisms and not because “more the merrier” unless you suffer from infection or illness. As the probiotic passes from on point to the other a lot of bacteria will be damaged and destroyed before its final destination is reached. The average probiotic supplement contains at least 2 billion bacteria per serving. Looking for potency at expiration will ensure that the product is guaranteed to work as you are clear about the survival rate of the beneficial bacteria at the end of the shelf life.
You are working with live cultures and this is exactly why we need to be extremely cautious about the packaging. The whole purpose of using a probiotic supplement will be destroyed if the environment is not appropriate. They are very sensitive to heat and so it is necessary to store in a cool and dry place. No, this does not mean the refrigerator, but just away from direct sunlight and heat. Since they are very heat sensitive, make sure not to consume along with hot beverages.
The next thing to ensure is to keep them away from moisture as most probiotic supplements have bacteria that are dried and frozen which can be activated by moisture. You may also choose a supplement that has an enteric coating which may be able to survive the stomach acids efficiently.
Prebiotics that help bacteria flourish
It is not like probiotics are useless by themselves, however when combined with a prebiotic they are even more awesome. Fiber that cannot be digested by your digestive system but can be efficiently digested by the gut bacteria in order to multiply using them as nourishment, is what prebiotics are. One needs a dietary source of prebiotics to ensure that the probiotic bacteria proliferate.
Make sure to keep both your eyes open and look for the above mentioned pointers so that you can enjoy the complete health Benefits of Probiotic Supplements.
Side Effects of Probiotic Supplements
If achieving better digestive health and more energy be considered a negative side effect, I personally wouldn’t mind taking that hit and being effected. It is a fact that few individuals may experience some sort of discomfort initially but only for a short period and this generally happens to individuals who’ve been having a lot of issues with their digestive system since ages. Get through the transition period and your gut will thank you forever. However, here is a list of possible side effects that may or may not affect you when you start with probiotic supplements.
Some people experience gas and bloating on starting with these bacteria-based supplements. Some others who choose yeast-based probiotics may have polydipsia and constipation. The reason for these reactions are still unknown, however they are just temporary and should resolve within a few days, if they don’t, you would be better off stopping the supplements and visiting your GP immediately.
The probiotics containing amines may trigger headaches in people who are sensitive to it. Amines excite the nervous system and sometimes cause blood flow to either increase or at other times decrease leading to headaches.
A molecule called histamine, which is usually produced by the immune system, is released into the digestive tract sometimes due to the presence of certain bacterial strains in probiotics. Some people have difficulty in producing the enzyme that degrades excess of histamine in the digestive tract causing the histamine to enter the lining of the intestinal tract. This then passes into the blood and causes allergy like symptoms.
Though probiotics are usually safe for anybody, some people may not be equipped to tolerate the bacteria and yeasts. Individuals with a very weak immune system, those who are recovering from surgeries and individuals who have been hospitalized for long durations are the most vulnerable to infections.
In a nutshell
Probiotics are considered to be one of the best ways to heal a poor gut. They occur naturally or can be consumed in the supplement form. Most people seem to benefit from these, however we cannot rule out the minority that seem to see side effects. Bloating, gas, thirst and constipation are the most common side effects if at all any. It is advised that people who have a poor immune system consult your doctor before you get yourself a probiotic supplement.
Equipped with all this information you decide for yourself and choose the best probiotic in the market.