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Which probiotic to buy?

Haylee Buckles, GVSU Intern

With the recent trend of probiotics for promoting gut health, some of you may be wondering what product to buy. Especially when there are so many on the market to choose from. If you are looking to buy a probiotic there are a few key aspects to look for.

1.Is it tested by a third party (Consumer lab, NSF international, or USP)

Having your probiotic or any supplement tested by a third party means that it has been tested for quality. It confirms that what is listed on the label is what is actually in it and that there are no hidden ingredients that could be harmful.

2.CFU amount should contain at least 1 billion

CFU (colon-forming units) is the number of working (live) bacterial cells in each capsule/tablet/serving size. Having 100 billion compared to 1 billion doesn’t necessarily mean that it is better. Cells can die between the time the product was made and the time it has expired. There is no good way to know how many cells will be alive at any given time. The best way to assure you’re getting the amount you pay for is to check the expiration date and purchase one well before that date.

3.Understand the strain of bacteria that is right for you

What does it mean when a product says it has 16 strains? It means there are 16 different types of bacteria in that product. There have been studies that determine which strains are better for certain problems, there is no one right strain for everyone.

There are a few of the common strains listed below with their benefits.

Lactobacillus Acidophilus – found to be helpful with Diarrhea, Bloating, and Bowel Pain. It even helps with Allergies and keeping your immune system strong enough to fend off cold and Flu.

Bifidobacterium Lactis – found to help with Constipation, as it may help promote regular bowel movements, and may be helpful with food allergies and even respiratory ailments.

Bacillus Coagulans – found to be helpful for people with abdominal pain from Irritable Bowels and may be effective at reducing gas and gastrointestinal distress.

Lactobacillus Casei – studied for possible positive effects on people with Rheumatoid Arthritis.


Prebiotics are fibers the human body cannot digest and that probiotics use as food. Prebiotics include (bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, beans, and whole-grain foods). If the bacteria you are taking to help balance the gut has nothing to feed on, they might not survive very long. Having a supplement with both pre- and probiotics ensures the optimal performance of the supplement. For someone who doesn’t feel the probiotic is working and may not be eating enough of these foods then maybe a pre-and probiotic blend is right for you.

Here are a few of the tested and approved products to check out. If you don’t feel it is working, try a different brand or make sure you’re taking it in the morning on an empty stomach for the best results.

If you would like to try and balance your gut without a supplement, talk to your Dietitian about ways to get pre- and probiotics into your daily life.

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