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What to Know Before Taking a Probiotic

Have you been thinking about taking a probiotic? You are not alone. The probiotics industry is expected to grow to $75.9 billion by 2027!1 With a growing focus on gut and immune health, it is no surprise that the probiotics industry is experiencing a boom. Because of this, there are more products than ever to choose from. How do you know which one is right? And what should you consider when choosing one for yourself and your family? In this article, we’ll review the things you should know before you add this important supplement to your daily routine.

Benefits of Probiotics

There are many benefits to taking a daily probiotic. Here are just a few. Probiotics support the overall health of the digestive system, support overall immune health, and promote overall heart health. Studies even show that a healthy gut leads to less anxiety in healthy subjects. And there are many more benefits because when you use a probiotic you are supporting the health of your gut. As Dr. Amy Carmichael, a Functional Medicine doctor stated, “Your gut is linked to nearly every facet of your health from your immune system to your mood.” 

When Will I Notice a Difference from Taking Probiotics?

Well, that depends on a few factors. Results can vary based on the current state of your gut health, the reason for starting the probiotic, and the strains in the probiotic you choose. It is also possible that you won’t necessarily “feel” the improvements, but that doesn’t mean the probiotics aren’t working. With continued use, you may notice things like healthier looking skin, fresher breath or improved mood. 

Not All Probiotics are Created Equal

Probiotic dosing is measured in CFUs, or colony forming units. In simpler terms, CFUs are the amount of live bacteria that could divide and form a colony in your gut. Generally, probiotics contain anywhere from 1 to 10 billion CFUs.2 So, you would think that more would be better, right? That isn’t necessarily true. Again, I’m going to say – it depends. The amount of CFUs necessary for a probiotic to be effective depends both on the strain of the probiotic and the reason that you are taking it in the first place. Instead of focusing on the number of CFUs, looking at what strains are included is a better gauge of quality. Many strains have been extensively researched and are backed by clinical studies showing their efficacy for various conditions. Look for a probiotic that has the clinical studies to back it up and is made with the same CFUs that were proven effective in these studies. 

How to Choose the Right Probiotic Strain

So you’ve read this far and now realize you should start taking a probiotic. But which one? There are so many different strains and available products contain a variety of different combinations of these strains. 

  1. Do Your Research
    Because everyone has a different gut makeup, picking a probiotic is an individual choice. So while a friend may say they saw a benefit with a certain product, the same may not hold true for you. Choose based on your individual needs and what the strains in the product have been proven to do. Looking for immune support? Floradapt’s Immune Defense contains Lactobacillus plantarum DR7, proven to support overall immune health.3 Do you have gut-related anxiety? The Gut Comfort probiotic contains 3 strains proven to relieve symptoms of everyday gut-discomfort and gut-related anxiety.4
  2. Read the label
    A good quality probiotic will be free of unnecessary extras and fillers. Be on the lookout for any common allergens as well.
  3. Look for stability
    Probiotics are living organisms and the products will have an expiration date and storage suggestions. Choose a product that guarantees their quality over time. Floradapt’s line of probiotics have a guaranteed stable shelf life of 24 months and are packaged in protective bottles that prevent light or moisture from affecting the product.

Should Everyone Take a Probiotic?

While the use of probiotics is generally found to be safe for most people, there are just a few notes of caution. Patients who are immunocompromised, those who have just had surgery, or younger patients with “short-gut” syndrome, as well as pregnant or nursing mothers, should talk with their doctor before taking a probiotic.5

Of note, because you are introducing new bacterial strains into your gut ecosystem, it is not uncommon to experience a little gas and bloating in the first few weeks. This should subside as your body adapts to the new supplement. If it does not, discontinue and talk to your doctor. 

Taking a probiotic is a great way to improve your gut health and so much more. Consider adding one based on your specific health needs and talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns about which one might be right for you.

[2] NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Probiotic Fact Sheet.
[3] Chong, et al. " Lactobacillus plantarum DR7 improved upper respiratory tract infections via enhancing immune and inflammatory parameters:A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study." J. Dairy Sci. 102:4783–4797. JUNE 01, 2019
[4] Lorenzo-Zúñiga V, et al. "I. 31, a new combination of probiotics, improves irritable bowel syndrome-related quality of life." World J Gastroenterol 20.26 (2014): 8709-16
[5] NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Probiotics Fact Sheet.