Probiotics are finding recently popularity in the wellness scene but are nothing new – they have been used as a cornerstone of health for many centuries around the world. Today, many people are finally discovering en masse the value of good probiotics in your diet and how it can improve all facets of health.
For centuries communities have been fermenting foods and kept these foods as a staple part of their diet. Sometimes it was done out of necessity (such as preserving food for winter) and sometimes it was done out of tradition, but regardless our ancestors understood intimately the value of keeping the best probiotics in our diet to nurture the bacteria in our systems.
Over time these foods slowly became phased out of our diets as we learned to preserve foods with plastic and synthetic preservatives (why make ten jars of sauerkraut for winter, when cookies can be bought at the supermarket 365 days per year?) and as a result the flora in our digestive system suffered.
Nowadays, people are once again realising these valuable probiotic enzymes are central to healthy body and microbiome.
Who should take probiotic supplements?
Probiotic supplements are a great way to reintroduce regular probiotics to your diet.
They’re especially good if you don’t eat fermented foods like kefir and sauerkraut often. Many people dislike the taste of these foods, and eating them daily or regularly is difficult.
A probiotic supplement is tasteless and easy to take at meal time in a few seconds, giving you all the benefits of healthy gut flora without having to worry about adding a side dish of probiotic foods at every meal.
Probiotics are also fantastic for people who have:
- Recently taken a course of antibiotics (within the last year).
- Have taken antibiotics regularly in the past.
- Been experiencing diarrhea.
- Been experiencing constipation.
- Irregular bowel movements.
- Regularly been getting sick.
- Don’t eat a well rounded diet.
If that sounds like you, keep reading to see our choices for the best probiotic supplements we recommend you add to your daily wellness stack.
What do we look for in a probiotic supplement?
Probiotics work like this: A small pill contains freeze-dried probiotic bacteria. They benefit your body by helping fortify your gut, digest foods properly, strengthening your immune system (which resides mostly in your gut!) and keeping any “bad” bacteria in check. Whenever you take one, you populate your gut with these beneficial bacteria, that slowly restore your gut flora to a healthy level over time.
Generally, probiotic supplements contain three broad strains of bacteria:
- Lactobacillus (mostly populates the small bowel)
- Bifidobacterium (mostly populates the colon)
- Saccharomyces boulardii (technically a yeast, but great for your guts).
If you look at the back of a tub of yogurt or bottle of kombucha (or bottle of probiotics) you will generally see one of these words, or a combination of them, on the ingredients label.
Probiotics are also fragile things. If they aren’t manufactured under controlled conditions, or tested strains aren’t used, or are sealed in cheap capsules, they may not be very effective (or at all). It’s also a bonus if they’ve run clinical trials, or have submitted their strains for third party testing.
Our criteria for finding the best probiotics
Probiotics having a few moving parts, so it’s not necessarily about finding the strongest probiotic or the highest strain counts. When doing probiotics reviews we look for the following:
- Billions of CFUs – Millions will barely make a ding.
- Third party tested
- Wide diversity of strains.
- No cornstarch or other fillers.
- Shelf stable.
- Protective capsules to ensure probiotics reach your gut!
These are all things we look at when trying to find a probiotic to recommend.
What Are The Best Probiotics On The Market?
Premium Probiolac Complex by AAVALABS
In our opinion, the best probiotics on the market today is the Premium Probiolac Complex by AAVALABS.
AAVALABS is a Nordic company that has put together one of the most complete probiotic supplements that we’ve found – in fact – it’s the one the whole team here at Fit Brit is currently knocking down each day.
The 120 billion CFU count across 30 different strains makes this a comprehensive supplement to repopulate and repair your microbiome, and to keep a healthy one getting even stronger. It’s spread across the Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Saccharomyces boulardii strains makes it a bulletproof mixture that should benefit all areas of your digestive system. Serve for serve, it’s the best probiotic tablet we’ve found.
What else do we love? They’re made and third party tested in Europe to stringent quality standards, and all their products come with a 365 day empty bottle guarantee. It’s not quite pharmaceutical grade probiotics, but it’s about as close as you’ll get!
- 30 strains
- 120 billion CFUs per tab
- Vegan, Halal and Non GMO
- Lactose and gluten free
- Third party tested
- Made in Europe
- 365 Day Money Back Guarantee
Natures Zest 100 Billion CFU Bio Cultures
Natures Zest is produced right here in the UK which is something we always love to see, and we’re a fan of their 100 billion CFU probiotic. It’s manufactured in a GMP Registered facility and all ingredients are tested to ensure quality.
This formula contains 12 strains of cultures, and includes Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Saccharomyces boulardii strains, as well as prebiotic fibres to aid digestion. They’ve been tested to be shelf stable meaning you can keep them in or out of the fridge, and the 180 capsule bottle should last you a couple of months at least.
It’s also vegan and vegetarian friendly, non GMO and free from artificial colours. While the spectrum of flora this supplement offers isn’t quite as broad, we think it’s great value for money and still a very high quality product. If you have healthy bowel movements and are generally healthy overall, this would be a great as a maintenance option rather than trying to fix any serious deficiencies.
- Made in the UK
- 180 capsules per bottle
- Vegan, vegetarian and non GMO
- Contains 12 key strains
- 100 billion CFU per capsule.
ahead PROTECT Probiotic Cultures Complex
Ahead is a German wellness company and has an impressive broad based probiotic that we’ve used from time to time.
What we love about it is the broad selection of 18 strains, and while it doesn’t contain Saccharomyces boulardii, it doesn include a few others we don’t see often in other products. It’s manufactured in Germany like the rest of their range, and third party tested in TUV certified labs.
We also love their gastro-resistant capsules, with zinc and calcium additions, which use a time release formula to ensure as many bacterias as possible make it safely to the gut.
18 strains over 15 billion CFUs, including prebiotic fibres to give optimal digestion. At this price, it’s great value for money.
- Made and tested in Germany
- 18 strains
- 15 billion CFUs per capsule
- Improved with zinc, calcium and prebiotics
- Time release technology to ensure flora reaches the gut safely
Garden of Life – Primal Defense Ultra
Garden of Life has been manufacturing probiotic supplements for years and is widely considered one of the best probiotic brands, with quite a large range of supplement options.
The Primal Defense Ultra is their own in-house HSO formula which blends 12 species of microorganisms and minerals, giving you probiotic capsules specifically designed to balance gut flora.
Most importantly, it contains all the key building blocks of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Saccharomyces boulardii strains.
Each capsule contains 15 billion CFU with 13 strains of probiotics. Eating one with each meal, or even morning and night, should be an adequate intake for someone with an otherwise healthy microbiome.
- 15 billion CFUs per capsule
- Gluten free
- 13 species developed with HSO’s
- 180 capsules per pack
OptiBac For Travelling Abroad
While this is specifically a travel product, we love it because it contains the three broad strains and is formulated for the purpose of preventing travellers diarrhea.
We know that diarrhea doesn’t only happen when travelling – many people suffer from it regularly or even daily, and the culprit is often a compromised flora makeup in the gut.
Saccharomyces boulardii is commonly found in anti-diarrhea or travel probiotics, along with the strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus, which this product also contains. While this isn’t a broad spectrum probiotic we still think many people would benefit from it, especially if you’re looking for probiotics for IBS or diarrhea. Using this alone or even adding it to a current probiotic supplementation stack could help with restoring regular bowel movements and general digestive comfort overall.
Each capsule contains 4 strains over 5 billion CFUs, all shelf stable.
Optibac is also a very reputable brand which we’re happy to recommend.
- Specifically to combat diarrhea
- Reputable brand
- 4 strains including Sac boulardii and Lacto rhamnosus
- 5 billion CFUs
What are the signs you need probiotics?
The signs that you need probiotics can be any of the following:
- Food intolerances
- Gas or bloating
- Skin and autoimmune issues
The gut influences many other parts of the body, especially immunity, so the chance your microbiome is part of the problem is always possible. Source.
How do I know if a probiotic is working?
You will know a probiotic is working by changes in your digestion and mood. Most people find digestion symptoms are alleviated the soonest. This can include easier and more regular bowel movements, or less tummy irritation. Other things to look out for are improved mood and sleep quality.
Is it best to take probiotics morning or night?
It is best to take probiotics at meals during both the morning and the night. The recommended dosage on both products is usually twice a day.
When should you not take probiotics?
You should not take probiotics when you have a severely compromised immune condition. A study from 2017 found that this could lead to bacterial or fungal infections, especially if the probiotic is low quality. If you’re in doubt, consult your doctor. In healthy individuals, probiotics are almost always safe and beneficial.
Which probiotics should you avoid?
As we’ve touched on above, lots of things can make probiotics sub-par. Some of these are:
- Few strains
- Few CFUs
- Not shelf stable
- Not a complete blend of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Saccharomyces boulardii strains.
- Filler ingredients
Obviously we can’t put a list of individual products to avoid together because it would be pages long, but as a general rule, anything under 1 billion CFUs per serve is not worth your time. Anything that contains only lacto or only bifido strains is also (probably) not the best choice. Anything that contains cheap vege capsules is also likely to be ineffective, as the bacterias will be long dead by the time they hit your gut. You generally get what you pay for with probiotics, so if something looks suspiciously cheap, there’s probably a reason.
Stick with our recommendations and you’ll be just fine!
Last update on 2021-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API