When you think of bacteria, you generally don’t think of something positive. Probiotics, however, are living bacteria that are beneficial for your health. This is especially true for your digestive system where they work within your gut, helping to maintain the balance of a “good” vs “bad” environment.
Digestive ecosystems differ from person to person. Any probiotic may not work the same for multiple people, because like antibiotics, there is a specific probiotic to treat specific complications. For example, probiotics that help with digestive problems can’t be used to help treat symptoms created by eczema and urinary health conditions. For probiotics specific to gut health, they work by lowering the pH level in the colon; allowing for stool to move faster. These probiotics can also help you better absorb protein, vitamins, and nutrients from your diet. When purchasing your own, remember that it is best for these to be absorbed directly by the gut to ensure the entirety of the contents are in the right place to work the best. For this reason, delay-release capsules are often the most efficient in transporting probiotics directly to the gut before the capsule is broken open.
One of the most common gut health probiotics is Lactobacillus. It is responsible for helping with diarrhea and different lactose allergies. They are generally found in purchased supplements, or naturally in foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, Greek yogurt, and kombucha. The other most common probiotic is Bifidobacterium which is found in some dairy products and usually is used to help treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other related conditions. Probiotics under the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium genera are the most researched and are regarded as the safest to use.
There are many ways to test in a professional laboratory whether or not your probiotic count is true to the bottle specifications. Here at Biolog Lab Services, we do just this! We can run samples through DNA sequencing or MALDI-TOF analyzers to determine if the species of probiotic is accurate. We can also plate samples and do a Total Plate Count (TPC) to be certain the number of Colony-Forming Units (CFU) are also accurate according to the bottle. Most probiotics are not FDA regulated, so if you are experiencing a change in your probiotics, there could be an error in amount of CFUs or likely contamination. It is important to remember to store your probiotics within the recommended temperature and humidity conditions as well, as this can affect the efficacy of the probiotic itself.
What Do They Do?
Specifically, gut probiotics help food properly move through the gut by affecting the nerves that play a role in gut movement. By doing this, it can positively help the symptoms resulted from certain conditions such as:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Crohn’s disease
- Lactose intolerance
- General probiotics are useful for other problems like:
- Skin conditions
- Urinary and oral health
- Preventing allergies and colds
Consult your doctor to help determine if the use of probiotics are right for you and the condition you wish to treat. Gas pain and bloating are common side effects, and can be apparent if you are trying to use the wrong probiotic for a specific use.