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Not all probiotics are created equal

Updated: Mar 21, 2022

It wouldn't be fair for me to talk about prebiotics without backing it up with a post about probiotics: similar words, but very different meanings.

Day 14: Know your probiotics

In a nutshell, prebiotics are food or fuel that feed the probiotics. Probiotics are supplements consisting of bacteria that aim to colonize the gut in order to keep and recover a balanced biome that has been depleted from long-term restriction, antibiotic use, and medications such as birth control or metformin, etc.

Probiotics are not new to the scene. What is new is the degree of effectiveness that probiotics are now able to deliver. Probiotics populate grocery stores, pharmacies, and social media. Unfortunately, all probiotics are not created equal. Previously, stressed information, like the amount of live cultures in a supplement is less crucial now. Also, families of bacteria, i.e., lactobacillus acidophilus, a common probiotic family needs to be broken down into strains. One strain of the lactobacillus acidophilus family may be helpful for one condition, but another strain of the same family will negatively impact the condition.

I completely understand how overwhelming it is. The takeaway? Don't buy a probiotic off the shelf without consulting a professional about it. Ask about strains that are right for you and your concerns that have evidence to back it up, not just customer reviews of a product.

I absolutely believe in the power of probiotics, just be deliberate in what you are treating. Having the mindset, "I'll take it just in case" isn't all that helpful and can be expensive and possibly harmful. I don't have a brand or strains to recommend because it is that specific to the person, condition, and geographic location. Just know strains are important and should be specific to the condition.

The last piece of advice I'll leave you with is to take your probiotic consistently as in every day at the same time of day with a meal that consists of grains or dairy or both, such as yogurt, rolled oats, and berries. And, as always, schedule a health and wellness assessment and let us look at what it will take for you to reach optimal health and wellness that's right FOR YOU!

Jen Pfeilfer, MS, APD

Dr. Thomas R. Schneider, Medical Director

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