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April 23, 2022 4 min read

Choosing the best probiotic supplement.

The use of probiotics has definitely increased in the past few years, as well as the research around them in the scientific community. This is no surprise as probiotics are extremely beneficial to our health and we are learning so much more about their impact on our entire body - beyond the gut.

However, although these products are subject to increasingly in-depth scientific studies, very often, people do not know which supplement to buy, increasing the chances of falling into the hands of opportunistic people.

For these reasons, here we will explain a little more about how to know which is the best probiotic supplement for you.

What is a probiotic supplement?

First of all, we need to define what a probiotic is.

According to the official definition, probiotics are live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer health benefits to the host. Probiotic-based supplements are usually used to improve the composition of the microorganisms that compose the intestinal microbiota, which can greatly benefit not only intestinal health, but also that of other organs and systems.

Other concepts that should also be understood include:

Prebiotics: represented by all those non-digestible parts of food capable of nourishing selected groups of microorganisms, favoring their growth.
Symbiotics: products that contain both probiotics and prebiotics in their composition.
Postbiotics: those components or metabolites resulting from the digestion of prebiotics by the intestinal microbiota, which are the ones that truly have a beneficial effect on local and systemic health.

Basic characteristics of a probiotic supplement.

But, what basic characteristics must a probiotic supplement have in order to be considered as such and to benefit the person who consumes it?

The microorganisms contained must be correctly identified.
Must not include virulent agents.
Must not cause adverse reactions.
Must not be carriers of antibiotic resistance.
Must not have the capacity to produce undesirable metabolites.
Be of human origin.
Be accredited by the relevant health organizations.
Its benefits must be scientifically demonstrated.
Show tolerance to gastrointestinal tract conditions.
Have a sufficient quantity of microorganisms to exert the desired effect (expressed in CFU).
The microorganisms must remain viable throughout the shelf life of the product.

Aprobiotic-based supplementfor each case.

With these characteristics in mind, there are other factors to consider when shopping for a probiotic supplement.

The first is to choose the product that best suits the particular case of each person. There are some supplements with bacterial strains more related to the improvement of intestinal symptoms, increase of immune modulation, reduction of inflammatory processes, or the control of metabolic parameters, among others. However, in general, the genera of bacteria that are most commonly included in these products areBifidobacterium andLactobacillus.

Another aspect to take into account is that of the elements that may be accompanying the probiotics, such as prebiotics, postbiotics, vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients. Usually, this accompaniment is used to increase the action of the bacterial strains or to add other health benefits to the supplement.

Certainly, the consumption of these probiotic supplements should be accompanied by other recommendations that can improve the lifestyle habits of each patient. For this and much more, it is advisable to discuss all these details with a health professional or an expert in the field before purchasing a specific supplement. In this way, the achievement of the desired goals can be ensured, avoiding the development of side effects.


Scientific references.

(Boulangé et al., 2016; Bron et al., 2017; Frei et al., 2015; Gill & Prasad, 2008; Kim et al., 2019; Markowiak & Śliżewska, 2017; Wieërs et al., 2020)

Boulangé, C. L., Neves, A. L., Chilloux, J., Nicholson, J. K., & Dumas, M.-E. (2016). Impact of the gut microbiota on inflammation, obesity, and metabolic disease.Genome Medicine,8, 42.

Bron, P. A., Kleerebezem, M., Brummer, R.-J., Cani, P. D., Mercenier, A., MacDonald, T. T., Garcia-Ródenas, C. L., & Wells, J. M. (2017). Can probiotics modulate human disease by impacting intestinal barrier function?The British Journal of Nutrition,117(1), 93–107.

Frei, R., Akdis, M., & O’Mahony, L. (2015). Prebiotics, probiotics, synbiotics, and the immune system: Experimental data and clinical evidence.Current Opinion in Gastroenterology,31(2), 153–158.

Gill, H., & Prasad, J. (2008). Probiotics, immunomodulation, and health benefits.Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology,606, 423–454.

Kim, S.-K., Guevarra, R. B., Kim, Y.-T., Kwon, J., Kim, H., Cho, J. H., & Lee, H. B. K. and J.-H. (2019).Role of Probiotics in Human Gut Microbiome-Associated Diseases.29(9), 1335–1340.

Markowiak, P., & Śliżewska, K. (2017). Effects of Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics on Human Health.Nutrients,9(9), 1021.

Wieërs, G., Belkhir, L., Enaud, R., Leclercq, S., Philippart de Foy, J.-M., Dequenne, I., de Timary, P., & Cani, P. D. (2020). How Probiotics Affect the Microbiota.Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology,9, 454.

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