There are several things that define an effective probiotic supplement. With fermented foods on the rise and people realizing their health benefits, many rely on them for their gut health. I also thought this was the way to go. However, I have recently been studying about probiotics and have learned A LOT.
First let’s address fermented foods/beverages. You know I am a major fan. I will never EVER stop telling people to consume them. EVER. These provide rich nutrients for our gut and help heal it. They also aid in proper digestion, and support good bacteria. Fermented foods are excellent for maintaining gut health, but alone they don’t have the power to destroy bacteria that may dominate (i.e. autoimmune diseases) or to get back the right balance of microbes that can effectively heal the gut wall (i.e. leaky gut syndrome). They are important, but know that you need a good probiotic supplement as well.
***Keep in mind that the term probiotic has been thrown around to mean many things, so your definition may not fit with the one I am referring to. This being: probiotics are organisms that regulate and colonize the bacteria in the gut. Fermented foods are excellent for the gut, but do not colonize the gut. This could be an entire post on its own, but for sake of time, let’s leave it here.
Have I said GUT enough?
What should you look for?
- DNA verification — this means that the probiotic has been clinically tested to show that what is in the bottle is what they claim is in it! You might be surprised that 90% of probiotics on the market do not even contain the strains claimed in them. It’s important to know which strains you are taking, as not all will survive to the small intestine.
- see this article for more info
- Know your strains. There are hundreds of different bacterial strains. Ensure that yours are GUARANTEED survival. It doesn’t need a fancy coating or time-release capsule, the strains should survive on their own.
- Look for theBACILLUS strain. This strain has been scientifically proven to make it all the way to the lower intestine. It’s crucial to an effective probiotic.
- What about CFU’s? These are colony forming units, which some probiotics claim to have billions of. That’s great, but doesn’t do you any good if they all die off when they hit your stomach. The best probiotics will use a few very powerful strains that are going to survive, instead of thousands that will die.
Benefits of a good probiotic
I used to think that I didn’t need a supplement. I eat well, and wanted to get most of my nutrients from FOOD. After learning more about these little bugs we call probiotics and how sensitive they are, I realized that a supplement was the only way to get all of the benefits they have to offer.
A good probiotic can:
- help reduce allergies and asthma
- improve growth of natural flora
- improve digestion of food
- detoxify the intestinal tract
- support the immune system
- give you better nutrient usage from the food you eat
- change your metabolism and turn you into a fat burning machine. By taking a good probiotic with fiber and protein, your body creates fat busting compounds called short chain fatty acids. More SCFAs reduce fat storage and increase fat usage.
- among many other benefits . . .
With that in mind, I have found one that I can truly get behind and endorse. Silver Fern Brandis doing some incredible things. If you have been a follower of me for some time, you know I don’t promote anything that I haven’t researched and use myself.
I also have NEVER gotten behind any meal replacement shakes or protein powders and I was leery when I saw those on their product list. I have ALWAYS advocated getting your nutrition from real food! BUT, these guys are doing it RIGHT. Their products are clean, they have done the research, are using an amazing zero-sugar sweetener in their shakes instead of sucralose or others that I cringe at, and I have been blown away that someone is finally getting it!
It’s actually really exciting for me to come across a company like this. I have been approached by MANY people and companies wanting me to promote their bars/shakes/supplements. I have never endorsed them (besides vital proteins, which are also excellent).
Silver Fern Brand meet all of the above requirements and more. They are both prebiotic and probiotic, meaning that along with the good bacteria, you are getting the fertilizer it needs to take root in your lower intestine. Prebiotics are basically fiber, used to fuel the probiotics and make them their most effective.WAI probiotic drink mixes are awesome too — I have been mixing them into water and my kids drink them right up! They are fruity and a little sweet, the perfect way to get these good bugs into our kids. Another way for kids who can’t swallow capsules is to open the capsule and mix it into something else (smoothies, yogurt, etc).
There are a few other brands out there as well that meet the requirements, but VERY few, so be conscientious. If you want more of the science/research, let me know in the comments and I can e-mail you more information![disclosure]