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Nutrient - Choosing the right probiotics for you

By Debbie Paddington Dip ION

Some 100 trillion bacteria populate the human gut, a number that is 10 times greater than the number of cells in the human body. Some of these bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella are bad for us, as they can cause acute or chronic illness. Others however, live symbiotically within us in a mutually beneficial relationship that has evolved to enhance their life and ours. These bacteria known as friendly bacteria or probiotics play a very important role in health.

Indeed, these beneficial bacteria are so important for your health that an imbalance, also known as dysbiosis, may cause various symptoms such as diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, wind, skin problems and thrush and could contribute to health conditions such as IBS, eczema, Crohn’s and diverticulitis. Many factors such as antibiotics, stress and poor diet can deplete beneficial bacteria levels in the body and lead to dysbiosis. To help keep your intestinal flora in good shape, eating probiotic foods such as “live” yoghurt, natto, miso, tempeh and sauerkraut is recommended. Although if you are suffering from dysbiosis, a probiotic supplement is usually advised as they contain more therapeutic levels of friendly bacteria. With so many different probiotic supplements on the market however, how do you know which one is the best for you? Well not all probiotic supplements are the same and when buying one you should ensure that they meet the following criteria:

• Be of human origin

• Be non-toxic, and free of significant adverse side effects

• Survive through the gastrointestinal tract

• Be stable during the intended product shelf life

• Contain an adequate number of viable bacteria to obtain the health benefit.

To make life easier, we’ve provided an ‘at-a-glance’ guide of what each of the most used strains do.

Lactobacillus acidophilus

•            Supports a healthy immune system

•           Helps to balance normal cholesterol levels

•            Support healthy vaginal flora

•            Supports the health of the urinary tract

•           Helpful during and after antibiotics

•            Supports healthy digestion and bowel movements

•           May be useful to take during a Candida infection

•           Inhibits the growth of bad bacteria.

Lactobacillus sporogenes 

•           May help prevent “traveller’s tummy”

•           Helps to balance normal cholesterol levels

•           May help to inhibit the growth of bad bacteria

•            Supports healthy bowel function

•           May help the absorption of soya isoflavones

•            Supports healthy digestion.

Lactobacillus salivarius

•           Helps break down undigested protein

•           Helps to reduce wind

•           Helps to remove toxins from the gut

•           Helps to make some “B”vitamins

•           Helps support healthy immunity

•           Helps to reduce harmful bacteria in the gut

•           May have anti-inflammatory properties

•           May be helpful in childhood eczema.

Bifidobacterium bifidum  

•           Helps support healthy bowel movements

•           Helps to support healthy immunity

•           Inhibits the grow of bad bacteria

•           May help to reduce antibiotic associated diarrhoea.

Bifidobacterium longum  

•           May help to prevent wind

•           May be helpful during and after antibiotics

•           Inhibits the growth of bad bacteria.

Lactobacillus casei

•            Supports healthy vaginal flora

•           Helpful during and after antibiotics

•           Aids digestion

•            Supports healthy bowel movements

•            Support a healthy immune system

•           Inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria

•           May have anti-inflammatory properties

•           May help reduce lactose intolerance

•           Helps to increase Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium levels in the gut.

Bifidobacterium infantis   

•            Important for the development of infant immunity

•           Helps to support healthy digestion

•           Inhibits the growth of bad bacteria

•           Helps healthy bowel movements.

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