The fermentation of dairy, vegetables, fruit, beans, grains and even fish is an age-old practice. It has been a part of traditional cultures for ages. This simply reaffirms why the concept has been passed on from generation to generation. It underlines the age-old importance of fermented foods, also known as probiotics, to our health. Nowadays we have different forms and types of probiotics supplements that you should know.
The concept of fermented foods has been taken over by science. These days various types of probiotics supplements are readily available in convenient forms in stores near you. All you need is to find out which types of probiotics supplements will fit well with your lifestyle and personal preferences.
Probiotics supplements are fast gaining popularity as an alternative to fermented probiotic foods and traditional medicine, and for good reason.
Research shows that taking correct types of probiotics supplements with live, friendly bacteria in sufficient quantities contributes to a healthier digestive and immune system. It helps in treating urinary, oral and vaginal infections and other disorders.
How Different Types of Probiotics Supplements Work?
A majority of health problems originate from the gut, which is where trillions of bacteria reside. Unhealthy eating habits, work-related stress, irregular exercise, and other factors tend to disturb the balance of good and bad bacteria in the body. This, in turn, affects overall health leading to various illnesses and diseases.
Consumption of probiotics supplements helps to bring balance to the gut microflora. But, it is important to note that the good microflora needs to number in the billions for the effects to be noticeable. While you can get probiotics from foods you eat, doctors will often recommend specific types of probiotics supplements to treat specific conditions. A good example in this regard is when you need to improve your digestive system.
There is a strong logic behind the saying “you are what you eat.” Healthy eating, coupled with the best probiotics supplements, provides your body with the essential requirements to thrive as well as treat and prevent chronic health problems.
Types of Probiotics Supplements
There are a number of ways to make probiotics a part of your diet and everyday life. Various types of probiotics supplements are flooding the market, and it can be overwhelming to distinguish and choose among them. Check out the following ways in which they are typically categorized before you make your decision:
Forms of Intake
Every individual is unique, and so are their preferences. It can be confusing to narrow down the best types of probiotics supplements that will work out for you. It is so because of the abundance of choices available and the different ways in which they can be consumed. However, the various forms of intake make it easy for everyone to lead a healthy life, no matter their preferences. These forms are readily available at drug stores, supermarkets, and health stores.
You have to keep the 500-2000 different species of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract happy. In order to achieve this, you will need to choose the right probiotics supplements to work with. Remember that the various forms and types of probiotics supplements available today are rather fascinating!
Here are some of the different types of probiotics supplements that you will find:
Probiotics Pills, Tablets and Capsules
Probiotics pills, tablets, and capsules are found either on the shelves or in the refrigerated sections of drug and food stores. Certain probiotics supplements contain freeze-dried organisms that don’t require refrigeration. They are carefully sealed in insulated bottles or blister packs.
These come with an expiration date but may not need to be stored in the refrigerator. Other probiotic pills and capsules may require refrigeration to protect live microorganisms from heat and moisture. These probiotics supplements are available in a variety of brands. They contain various strains of probiotic bacteria for dealing with different health issues.
Probiotics Supplements: Chewables
Swallowing pills is not for everyone, especially children and pets (yes, there are probiotics for pets too). Supplements in the form of chewable are specially prepared to avoid the need for unpleasant swallowing. This makes it easy and most fun way to take in probiotics essential for grownups and kids alike.
Typically, chewable probiotics also come in a variety of options with different microorganisms that offer various health benefits.
Probiotic liquids are available in different flavors and brands. Some probiotics in the liquid form need to be refrigerated as they are prone to heat and moisture damage. These types of probiotics supplements can only thrive in cool temperatures.
Others can be found on supermarket or drug store shelves. They come with a shelf life but no specific storage requirements. Most probiotic juices and health drinks are delicious, which makes it easy to make them a part of everyday life and with continuous use.
Probiotic powders are an ingenious way to incorporate healthy bacteria into almost any food or drink you prefer. It can be yogurt or smoothies to juices and even plain water. Mixing a probiotic powder into delicious treats is a great way to get fussy children and unwilling grownups to take the necessary dietary supplements with no qualms.
Food and Dairy Products
There are plenty of options available to consume probiotics supplements through food. Probiotic yogurt is the best example. Fermented foods are rich in probiotics. They taste good, are loaded with health benefits and have been around forever. Today, you can buy probiotics supplements in dairy-based products like cheese, pickles and various other yummy goodies!
By CFUs (Colony Forming Units)
Picking the best probiotics can be especially confusing when you consider how many bacteria you should be ingesting. Given the various forms available, it is necessary to consider a few specifications before opting for supplements. Their dosages have various effects on different systems in the body.
Other than specifications such as brand quality, strain diversity, storage instructions, and expiration dates, the CFU count must be considered. This will help you to better determine which probiotics supplements offer the most benefits for you.
What are CFUs?
Colony Forming Units (CFUs) define the density of viable bacteria in a given supplement. This basically highlights the richness of probiotics in the source. The CFU count helps to measure how the bacteria are capable of existing and reproducing to form colonies of the same bacteria. If the bacteria are dividing to form more groups, it proves that there are live bacteria in the supplement.
The labels for various types of probiotics supplements state the number of colony-forming units in each serving size. They are universally regarded as the standard measure for reporting probiotic strength. Probiotics supplements should have a high CFU count since this shows the number of active cultures. Only viable organisms are considered probiotic, i.e. the ones capable of living under given circumstances.
What is the Importance of CFU Labels?
Live colonies make the development of metabolic and lactic acid possible. They also prevent pathogens from growing in the intestinal tract.
The reason why active cultures are imperative to determine the quality of a probiotic is very simple. After consumption, it is not enough for the supplement to simply rest in the gut. It needs to reproduce actively. It needs to increase in the number of colonies so that the necessary health effects can be initiated and multiplied.
How to Determine the Required CFUs
The number of required CFUs really depends on the specific need for the probiotic itself. When probiotics are being considered for general well-being, 6 – 10 billion CFUs can do the job. When it comes to minor health problems, a 20 – 30 billion CFU dose is recommended.
For major health problems, it’s best to consult a health professional. Ideally, only high CFU count probiotics supplements should be purchased. Anywhere from 15 to 100 billion bacteria will be enough.
To avail the benefits of probiotics supplements you need to take a minimum of 10 billion CFU’s or more per serving. This makes it easier for the CFUs to produce the required quantities of lactic acid. Measurement regarding optimal serving size is usually mentioned on the labels of probiotics supplements.
The labels present this information in grams for solids or millimeters for liquids, to determine CFUs per unit of measure. For attaining specific benefit from the probiotic in question, it’s a good idea to consult a medical practitioner.
Overconsumption of probiotics can lead to side effects like pain or tenderness in the abdomen, gas, bloating, etc. The fix for this is to discontinue the intake of the probiotic and steadily reintroduce it in a smaller dosage. This allows the body to get used to the supplement.
By Bacteria Type (Genus, Species, and Strain)
As mentioned above, probiotics are live bacteria that are grown with the purpose to emulate the functions of the natural gut flora. They should contain up to 5600 separate strains of bacteria. So, consuming probiotic supplements that aid in replicating beneficial bacteria is essential for various health benefits. Besides, they help in the treatment and prevention of illness and disease.
Types of probiotics supplements are identified at three different levels depending on their genus, species, and strain. Most strains of bacteria have two names, the first is the genus and the second is the species. An example is lactobacillus acidophilus, where lactobacillus is the genus and acidophilus is the species. These may further be broken into specific strains, usually denoted by an alphanumeric after the species name, e.g. lactobacillus gasseri GG.
Different strains of bacteria offer different health benefits. Multi-strain probiotics have the capability of colonizing all the niches in the gastrointestinal tract and make for powerful probiotics supplements. Check out some of the most popular sub-species and strains of probiotic bacteria here.
Find answers to all your questions regarding probiotics on our FAQ page that covers everything from proven benefits to side-effects.