The topic of probiotics in capsule form is interesting but not at this point especially encouraging in terms of positive benefits clearly demonstrated in scientific studies. I believe that improved studies will ultimately bring better results. As of now, the best results have been shown with gut issues like diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis. If you are on antibiotics, having severe diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome or undergoing a colon purge for colonoscopy, it’s worth considering probiotic supplements. Other indications are on a case by case basis.
In describing probiotics, microbiologists have designated species and then multiple strains within each species. Two of the most well studied and beneficial species are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Lactobacillus then has many strains such as L. acidophilus and L. rhamnosus. Each strain has particular effects on our health, a few of which I will mention in the following paragraph.
If you take a probiotic supplement, try to confirm that it’s a quality product. It’s important that an adequate number of living organisms reach the small bowel and colon. Packaging should ideally describe the delivery system and protect the capsules from light, heat and moisture. Currently available commercial products include Align which contains B. infantus, a strain which has been shown to reduce irritable bowel syndrome symptoms including bloating, diarrhea and constipation. Another popular brand is Culturelle which contains L. rhamnosus, a strain noted to be helpful in travelers diarrhea and vaginal health in women. Bio-K + contains what is considered to be one of the most important strains, L. acidophilus. It colonizes the small intestine and is active in nutrient absorption and digestion of dairy.
In studying probiotic supplements, I like the idea of products containing multiple strains and will discuss those in the next post along with speculation about metabolic effects.