13 Feb With 30 Billion Choices: How Do You Know What Probiotic is Best For You?
If you feel like you’re not getting enough probiotic-rich foods in your diet and are looking to supplement with probiotics, it’s important to make sure you’re taking the right ones to ensure the results you’re after. Dr Kerry Haarhoff breaks-down what to look for in your supplements.
Most probiotic supplements will contain a combination of different bacterial strains of Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces. Research has shown that some strains seem to be more effective than others for treating certain conditions. So, you’re more likely to get good results by taking probiotics that are actively working towards achieving a specific result, like controlling diarrhea. But as always, this is best achieved under the guidance of a qualified practitioner.
Generally, probiotics are measured in colony-forming units (CFUs). Some probiotics may be effective at dosages of 1–2 billion CFU per day, while others may require at least 20 billion CFU to achieve the desired effects. Really high doses of 30 billion+ are generally kept for practitioners to prescribe.
As a rule of thumb, you can use the below as a guide when choosing your probiotic.
- For general health support: Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces Boulardii.
- For diarrhea: Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Lactobacillus bulgaricus.
- For bloat: Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis.
- For mood support: Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium infantis, Lactobacillus helveticus, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus.
The bottom line: pay attention to your body and how your probiotic makes you feel. Yes, sometimes things get worse before they get better, but that shouldn’t really be the case with probiotics. If you start to feel stomach discomfort or your symptoms seem to get worse instead of better or even new symptoms start to show up; it may be a sign that a particular strain doesn’t agree with you. This is why qualified practitioners should be consulted when you’re looking to make changes to your health.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.
About Dr Kerry Haarhoff
Dr Haarhoff is a phytotherapist registered with the AHPCSA. Kerry has a keen interest in women’s health and runs a private practice in Durbanville, Cape Town.
Phytotherapy starts to bridge the gap between ancient, traditional herbal practices and modern medical science. It’s used in many developed countries and is often referred to as western herbalism.
Phytotherapists are trained to diagnose and treat a broad range of diseases and includes disease prevention along with dispensing of herbal medicines. If you would like to have a consultation, do not hesitate to contact Dr Haarhoff or visit the South African Association of Herbal Practitioners website to find your nearest registered practitioner.