Our digestive system is a pretty amazing part of our body. The gut breaks down food and liquids into their chemical components (carbohydrates, fats, proteins), which the body uses for energy and cellular regeneration. It also regulates hormones and activates the immune system. Our gut microbiome is made up of trillions of microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, and viruses). When in balance, the good bacteria in your gut keep you healthy by preventing an overgrowth of bad bacteria such as harmful microbes, yeasts, and parasites which can cause an imbalance.
What is “Leaky Gut” Syndrome?
Our gut microflora creates a barrier on the intestinal wall keeping out pathogenic germs from escaping the intestines and leaking into our blood stream. Leaky gut is when this barrier is disturbed because of a microbial imbalance, allowing harmful pathogens to enter the bloodstream. Our immune system sees the invading germs and launches a full scale immune response, building up antibodies to fight back. The problem is that the immune system attacks healthy cells as well as the bad ones. As these attacks continue over time, it can lead to a variety of health problems.
A “Leaky Gut” May Not Be Your Fault
The reality is that antibiotics, pain pills and prescription medications destroy both the bad and the good bacteria in your gut. The processed foods we eat and the sodas we drink are often genetically modified and loaded with harmful ingredients. Chemical additives are present in everything from the air we breathe, sun screen and lotions we slather on our skin, to the household and industrial cleaners we use in our homes.
All of this comes together to create a perfect storm in the form of an imbalance between your good and bad gut bacteria, leading to gut and immune system disruption. The results of this imbalance can be painful digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and heartburn. The internal imbalance can also reveal itself on the outside with skin conditions such as acne, Rosacea, Psoriasis and even Eczema. And if all of that was not bad enough, an imbalance in your gut microbiome can result in depression, low energy, and memory and recall issues. This is why it is critical to re-balance your gut with a “quality” probiotic.
“Good Gut” Bacteria SECRETS You May Not Have Known
- You have more nerves in your gut than you do in your entire spinal cord.
- Your gut has 100 trillion bacteria, 3 pounds worth, and all those cells are more than the human cells that can be found in the rest of your entire body. That’s a lot of cells in your gut!
- Having good gut bacteria dictates how well your immune system will function.
- Want glowing and clear skin? Good bacteria plays a vital role in the appearance of your skin.
- A surprising 95% of the serotonin, the happy molecule in your brain, is made in your gut! Balance your gut with good bacteria and you can help improve your mood and achieve more mental clarity.
How Probiotic Supplements Work
Probiotics supplements contain live strains of “good bacteria,” delivered to your gut in a convenient daily pill, which can help to balance your intestinal microbiome. Building your gut with more friendly bacteria can help prevent the over-colonization of “bad bacteria” which is a major factor in how well your immune system can respond to invading harmful pathogens and fight prevent infections. Research has shown that an optimal balance in your gut is 85% “good” bacteria to 15% “bad” bacteria. Although the perfect percentage may vary for each individual person, the most important objective to achieve health is to create an environment for healthy bacteria to flourish. It is essential to choose a high-quality probiotic brand, with the correct strains in the correct proportions, to help bring your gut flora back into balance and prevent the overgrowth of “bad” bacteria.
Our Probiotic Research Approach
To determine which probiotics were effective and which were just marketing hype we first investigated the brands to asses if the ingredients in the pills themselves were the same as their labels claimed. Second, we surveyed customers who have used these brands over time to get a better understanding of their experiences. Lastly, we took a close look at online marketplaces like Amazon and Ebay to see what other actual customers were saying.
We then combined all these factors so we could properly review the best Probiotic Supplement products available today.
6 Essential Ingredient Criteria to a Quality Probiotic
Probiotics are live microorganisms if taken in the correct amounts can help re-culture your gutby building up the “good gut bacteria” yielding a wide array of health benefits. But, our research and analysis has shown that for a probiotic supplement to be effective, it must have meet these 6 key ingredient criteria:
- Number of CFUs: Colony-Forming Units (CFUs) indicate how dense or potent the bacteria in the probiotic is. The higher number of CFUs in a probiotic can mean it has a higher impact on the growth of “good bacteria” within your gut flora. Our research indicated that although many companies try to sell you on simply the number of CFUs they have, the critical number to have in a good probiotic supplement is 40 Billion CFUs. Anything above that and you are just paying for marketing hype as it has not been shown to be more effective.
- Multiple Strains: A recent study by Stanford University’s Dr. David Relman discovered that the gut contains thousands of unique strains of bacteria. A probiotic brand that has at least 12 different strains is optimal. Keep in mind that if you have a specific digestive issue, there may be certain strains that are more recognized for their ability to fight the bad bacteria that are causing your issues.
- Substrains: One of the signs of a quality probiotic brand is if the company lists the specific substrain for each probiotic strain noted on their label. A substrain is an indication that the specific probiotic strain being used in the formula has gone through clinical studies to insure its quality. Avoid brands that do not list the substrain. It is usually an indication that a generic lower quality strains are being used. To find the substrain, examine the supplement facts portion of a brands label. As shown in the example below, the substrain will be located to the right of each strain, followed by a trademark symbol: Bifidobacterium lactis BI-04™
- Prebiotics: Since probiotics are living microorganisms, they need food to stay alive and to grow in your gut. A “prebiotic” is a soluble fiber which probiotics feed upon to stimulate their growth in your gut. Prebiotics are like the gas you put in your car, without it, you won’t go far for long. A good probiotic brand needs to contain prebiotics, such as the popular NutraFlora™ fiber, for it be most effective at re-culturing your gut with good bacteria.
- Dark Amber Glass Bottle: Probiotics are extremely sensitive to light, moisture, and oxygen. These harmful elements can easily leak through plastic bottles during storage and shipping and cause the living probiotic microorganisms to die. Only a dark amber glass bottle can keep out harmful moisture and light. Plastic bottles can render probiotics useless as they are permeable to varying degrees of moisture. Don’t waste your hard-earned money by taking the risk with a plastic bottle. Your safest choice is a brand which uses a dark amber glass bottle.
- Non-Refrigeration: It is important to take a probiotic “each day with consistency” to maintain optimal gut flora. We have heard from many of our readers about the challenges with probiotics which require refrigeration. Today, technology has advanced the ability to freeze dry probioticsand allowing them to be stable at room temperature. A good quality probiotic which does not require refrigeration can be effective and will increase the likelihood you will take it each day like any of your other vitamins.
BEWARE OF DEAD PROBIOTICS: There have been reports of companies failing to store or ship their probiotics properly, causing the essential colony-forming units (CFUs) in them to die, leaving customer with useless products. Don’t let yourself become a victim!
Key Indicators of a “Trustworthy Brand”
Customer Satisfaction: We gathered thousands of reviews on Prebiotics from online marketplaces to determine which had the most top rated reviews so we can see which products really work. You want a company with an established reputation. If they don’t have positive reviews, avoid buying from them.
Money-Back Guarantee: It is important to find a company who has a “no hassle” money-back guarantee. You don’t want to be wasting your time arguing with a company that won’t let you return a product that is not working for you. If a company won’t stand behind their product with a guarantee, take that as a red flag. The #1 rated brand in our rankings below has an industry leading, no questions asked, 90-day money back guarantee. We love when we see brands who are committed to standing behind their products.
Third-Party Quality Testing. Probiotics are live organisms and will begin to die off over time of they sit for long periods on a shelf. A good brand will guarantee that the CFUs they claim their product contains will test out to the claim amount for at least 90-day from the date of purchase. It’s important to know that what a company advertises, is actually in the pill! Be sure to pick a company who has third-party testing and verification of the ingredients on their label.
Lastly, we sought out real customers who used these products, and asked them about their experiences and results. Our team then reviewed all the responses, results and metrics.
Which Probiotic Supplement Works Best?
Probiotic Supplements have been on the rise as more and more adults today start feeling the troubling side effects of poor gut balance. The good news is that ever since the research and development in the cultivation of “good gut bacteria” has evolved, the popularity of probiotic supplements has been rising and rising. Our initial survey found an impressive amount of positive reviews from people using probiotic supplements. We received encouraging reports from users all over the country. Amazingly, these pills seem to work.
And though we love when new natural alternatives come to market, it often creates a breeding ground for companies who want to prey upon consumers with a true need of improving their digestive health. These companies run ads for their products using false claims that have never been tested by a trustworthy independent group. To make matters worse, many of these companies have formulas that don’t contain the right ingredients in the correct proportions to be effective, rendering them worthless at improving your digestive health.
With so many different brands, we decided it was time to perform a comprehensive review.
The Results of Our Research
Our review process eliminated most of the brands we reviewed. After a thorough analysis, these are the top-rated probiotic brands we feel you can confidently choose from. Customers who used our highest rated brands have reported results ranging from improved digestion and bowel movements, clearer and more glowing skin, higher energy levels, better mental clarity and an overall more optimistic mood. They also had a positive buying experience and many reported seeing results in as little as a few weeks.
The Complete List of Probiotics We Tested
Click to see the complete list of probiotics >>
Our top picks below, are updated each month using our below listed key evaluating criteria.
Bio-Kult Advanced Probiotic Multi-Strain Formula Capsules, 120 Capsules
Custom Probiotics – 11 Strain Custom Probiotic Powder (50 gram)