What Are the Best Probiotics? 15 Healthy Bacteria Strains for Gut Support
Dealing with uncomfortable symptoms like bloating and gas? Or just looking to give your gut some much-needed TLC?
IN AN NUTSHELL:
Probiotics come in many different shapes, sizes, and strengths. The live bacteria and yeasts are crucial for digestive health.
One of the most practical ways to benefit from them is in a supplement blend, such as these 15-strain complex capsules.
“Wait, so the bacteria are alive? Eww...”
Did this cross your mind when you first learnt about probiotics?
We’ve all been there! But don’t worry, there’s nothing to get freaked out about. In fact, they’re essential for gut wellbeing.
Still, with all of the complex names these healthy bacteria seem to have, it can be hard to know what the best probiotics are to prioritise in your diet.
So, let’s sift through the science and discover 15 of the most researched strains. Bring it on!
Oh, and one last thing before we start. Here’s the “order of play” for today, just in case you want to go to a particular section you’re most interested in:
But let’s get straight to the point. What are probiotics, exactly?
The NHS summarises them best:
“Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts promoted as having various health benefits.”
Dietary supplements and certain types of food offer the most common sources of probiotics, which are often described as “friendly bacteria.”
Are you picturing a happy, smiling bacteria right now?
Yup, us too…
Are Probiotics Good for You… If So, How?
A resounding “yes!”
If there’s one big thing to focus on when it comes to the gut and healthy digestion, it’s balance.
Namely, bacterial balance. And taking the right approach to probiotics can help you achieve this.
After an illness or infection, the gut is often one of the hardest-hit parts of the body.
You’ve most likely dealt with the symptoms of stomach upset or “runny tummy” at some point in life. A one-person party in your bathroom for hours on end?
No thanks. Never again, if we can help it!
But if you do need to address a troubled gut, what can you do to aid its recovery?
Well, probiotics are used to bring the gut bacteria back to its natural balance.
And as the likes of WebMD outline, probiotics can be used to support the body in many ways, both in terms of digestion and broader wellbeing.
Direct and indirect benefits of probiotics may include:
RELATED: Yoga Sequence for Your Digestion
10 Probiotic Foods to Put on Your Plate
Let’s be real — trying to get all of the health essentials in your meals is a drag. It can feel like you’re spending half your day cooking which, unless you’re a chef by trade, isn’t ideal!
While probiotic supplements can be the best bet for a well-rounded blend of bacteria, it’s always smart to consume a few probiotic-rich foods too.
Here are ten of the top probiotic foods, as listed by BBC Good Food:
- Cheese (aged and soft)
- Olives (green)
Now, you might be wondering…
How can I find all of the foods above — and what are the best probiotic sources to choose?
Some of the more exotic-sounding foods on the list (e.g. natto and tempeh) may not be sold in the supermarkets like Tesco and Aldi.
Local health stores and world food stores are typically a good bet. Otherwise, there’s always online shopping.
In terms of sources, yoghurt, cheese, and green olives are probably the easiest to come by.
Always make sure that food products such as yoghurt contain live or active cultures, though.
Also, when you’re browsing the aisles, opt for options that aren’t packed with sugar. Without pointing any fingers, a few suppliers can be sneaky like that!
15 Supportive Bacterial Strains for Your Gut
Heads up — this is going to be the nerdiest section of the article. But it’s also an important one when considering what the best probiotics are.
We’ll do our best to keep it as streamlined as possible, though. Here’s a quick run-through of 15 of the top probiotic bacteria to include in your diet:
1. Lactobacillus Acidophilus
Found naturally in human intestines, Lactobacillus acidophilus (L. acidophilus) is a key feature in foods such as miso.
This type of bacteria is associated with relief from constipation, diarrhea, and symptoms of lactose intolerance. A multi-tasker, indeed!
2. Streptococcus Thermophilus
S. thermophilus is often used as a starter culture in fermented dairy products, e.g. yoghurt and cheese.
It tends to hang out in the digestive, genital, and urinary systems. More importantly, though, these powerful bacteria can help with preventing infections (such as C. diff and pneumonia).
3. Bifidobacterium Bifidum
Known to aid gut inflammation following antibiotic use, B. bifidum is one of the most dominant probiotic bacteria seen in mammals.
4. Lactobacillus Rhamnosus
Mightily impressive from a scientific point of view — to date, L. rhamnosus has been investigated in over 200 clinical trials and 800 studies.
This body of research includes studies looking at how the bacteria can help with IBS, eczema, and allergies.
5. Lactobacillus Plantarum
L. plantarum is found in fermented plant foods and vegetables, such as sauerkraut.
It’s widely used within the food industry as a starter culture and has an array of potential medical uses.
6. Bifidobacterium Breve
Antimicrobial by nature and a vital part of what makes up human breast milk, B. breve has a helpful role to play in warding off pathogens.
7. Bifidobacterium Longum
Is weight management a health priority for you at the moment?
You might be interested to take note of B. longum, which has the ability to reduce specific markers of obesity.
8. Lactobacillus Casei
With a broad temperature and pH range, the positive effects of L. casei on diarrhea are well-established in medical research.
9. Lactobacillus Lactis
L. lactis is a lactic acid-producing bacteria (the clue is in the name!) It assists in preserving foods such as buttermilk and cheese.
What’s more, it’s known to benefit the immune system, heart, and skin.
10. Lactobacillus Reuteri
Heavily studied worldwide, this bacteria has been trialled for bone health and GI tract support, as well as supporting the health of gums and teeth.
As of 2021, at least 224 clinical trials on L. reuteri have taken place. You could say it’s in demand!
11. Lactobacillus Brevis
L. brevis is celebrated for its antimicrobial properties and tendency to fighting food pathogens.
It’s also great for increasing antioxidant activity in the body.
12. Lactobacillus Bulgaricus
There’s no more elegant way to say it — your gut flora loves L. bulgaricus.
Having enough of this bacteria in your system can improve digestion and provide relief from IBS symptoms.
13. Lactobacillus Salivarius
Viewed as being a promising probiotic species, the benefits of L. salivarius include the alleviation of flatulence and cytokine suppression.
14. Bifidobacterium Lactis
B. lactis is described as a “superstar for gut health.” Potential health advantages of this bacteria in mammals are fat loss, improved glucose tolerance, and heart protection.
15. Lactobacillus Helveticus
Most types of Swiss and Emmental cheese are made with L. helveticus. It gives a nutty, wholesome flavour (to prevent the cheeses from tasting bitter).
In terms of health, the final bacteria on our list is known to enhance nutrient bioavailability and protect from pathogens found in food.
Done! 15 of the most beneficial types of gut bacteria, according to science. Now you’ve got a firm idea of what to look for, how can we feed your digestive systems with enough of all of these bacteria?
We’ve already discussed foods with high amounts of probiotics, so let’s move onto supplements.
Where Can You Find The Best Gut Health Supplements?
The quantity of gut health supplements on the market isn’t a problem — there’s a vast range of them available, both online and in high street stores. But quality?
Now that can be an issue…
How can you ensure that you get your hands on the best of the best for a more balanced, calmer digestive system?
Hmm. Good question.
We figure there are three main ways to go about this:
First, there’s the quality and quantity of the ingredients.
When you’re mulling over what the best probiotics are, pay attention to the number of CFU (colony-forming units) included. You can think of this as the amount of live or viable bacteria in each dose.
For example, the Bio Complex Cultures for Digestive Health contain a whopping 40 billion CFU per serving for your gut to feast on.
Other factors to be aware of, in terms of quality, are:
The second thing to get clarity on when you’re doing your research is the price of the product.
Currently, Nutravita’s 15-strain probiotic supplement is priced at £14.39 (as of March 2021). You get a month’s supply of 40 billion CFU capsules.
In comparison, Holland and Barrett probiotics with 20 billion CFU cost £18.99.
Finally, once you’ve taken a look at the quality and price of the supplement, read through some of the customer reviews.
The likes of Amazon are a handy place to see what other people are saying. You’ll see the reviews near the bottom of each product page.
Again, let’s take the Bio Cultures Complex probiotic as an example. It has over 3,700 ratings on Amazon.co.uk, with an average score of 4.5/5.
What’s neat is that you can browse for reviews that mention certain words (see the images below).
In this case, the word “bloating” is featured in 123 reviews, whereas “IBS” is included in 79 reviews:
By conducting research in this way, you can get a sense of how the supplements are helping people who bought them for specific health reasons.
Thanks for sticking with us!
We hope your brain’s not too fried from all of those funky bacteria names — they’re a mouthful to pronounce and a “head-full” to remember!
Don’t hesitate to reach out to the Nutravita team if you have any further questions about what the best probiotics are for gut health.
Alternatively, you can glance through our range of GMO-free digestive aid supplements.
To healthier days,
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Co-written by Declan Davey - Health Copywriter
**Disclaimer: Nutravita’s blog content is for informational purposes only. It should not be viewed as a substitute for professional medical advice or guidance. If you are worried about your health, we recommend that you contact your doctor. Please do not ignore your doctor’s advice because of any information on https://www.nutravita.co.uk/.
Image attributions: Illustration by Freepik Storyset