Probiotics have long been important in improving and maintaining gut health. Still, the most important thing to consider is which type of probiotic will suit you best depending on your gender, age, lifestyle, and presenting health concerns.
Here are five things to think about when choosing the right probiotic from an expert nutritional therapist and CEO of market-leading supplement brand Cytoplan, Amanda Williams: “The gut health space can be overwhelming to someone looking to improve or maintain their digestive system.
“Firstly, a wide range of well-known and lesser-known symptoms, from chronic abdominal pain, indigestion and food intolerances to skin irritation, anxiety and sugar cravings – all linked to poor gut health.
“What we know is that it is often said that the gut is the seat of all health; a damaged or stressed gut can trigger inflammation, and the gut is also the site of 70% of the immune system and is therefore fundamental for protection against infection.
“The gut flora is involved in the production of neurotransmitters and short-chain fatty acids which communicate with the brain via the vagus nerve; hence, gut issues can significantly affect cognition. Also, the gut flora is heavily involved in hormone metabolism, particularly of thyroid, adrenal (stress) and reproductive hormones, so the gut function should be considered with any hormone dysregulation condition. There is also strong evidence that gut dysfunction can contribute to obesity and metabolic syndrome.
“Therefore, the gut can play a role in almost any health condition. Any gut health programme should involve health and lifestyle choices such as eating an anti-inflammatory diet rich in whole foods and fibre, getting plenty of water, mindful eating, and focusing on prebiotic and probiotic foods.
“However, the balance of bacteria within the gut can be easily disrupted by stress, poor diet, excess alcohol, illness, medication and antibiotic use, and this is where a Probiotic supplement can help us to maintain a balance of beneficial bacteria. I believe the power in probiotics is choosing a probiotic supplement specifically created with age, gender and lifestyle in mind.”
When choosing a probiotic supplement, it’s important to consider the following to ensure optimal results.
Our guts age as we do, and we see changes to the balance of bacteria in the gut. We also see changes in our ability to produce stomach acid and digestive enzymes and absorb nutrients; these factors influence the bacteria further down the digestive tract. Different strains are more suitable depending on our age, so look for a probiotic specifically formulated for your age.
For example, after the age of 40, our levels of bifidobacterium tend to deplete; therefore, it can be useful at this age to select a probiotic that provides higher levels of bifidobacterium strains.
There are also probiotics designed to support children’s and babies’ microbiome. For young children (under three), it is important to consider strains that have been specifically researched and selected for this age group; these include Bifidobacterium animalis, Bifidobacterium infantis and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG.
It’s important to consider the difference gender plays, too; for example, a probiotic formulated for women might include lactobacillus helvecticus a specific strain which has been shown to provide support to the female ecosystem.
When choosing the right probiotic supplement, it’s important to ensure that the strains have activity throughout the whole GI tract and are acid, bile and anti-biotic resistant.
A multi-strain is always a good idea as this will support a more diverse microbiome, and to effortlessly include a probiotic into your daily regime, consider using either a capsule if that’s how you usually take nutritional supplements or if you have a morning smoothie for example; a probiotic powder would be an easy addition here.
It is useful to support gut health before and during travelling. Changes to the environment, food, water and other bacteria can disturb digestion or gut-derived infections. The probiotic yeast saccharomyces boulardii is often used by travellers to protect against infections. It competes with pathogenic microorganisms for space and resources and supports gut immunity.
A good multi-strain probiotic can also be useful for travelling. A healthy balance of gut flora supports normal nutrient absorption, waste product detoxification, and immune function; a multi-strain probiotic including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium genera can be supportive for those with more active lifestyles too
A broad multi-strain probiotic can be appropriate for long-term use. A hundred years ago, every mouthful of food had 1000x more bacteria than today, so we were constantly re-inoculating our guts. In today’s society, we exist in a more sterile environment and have less exposure to these health-supporting bugs. A probiotic supplement can help to provide beneficial bacteria that we no longer obtain from the diet.
If using a high potency or specific strain probiotic, it would be more beneficial to utilise these in the short term and switch to a broad-spectrum multi-strain probiotic. Pets can also benefit from obtaining more live bacteria; however, always ensure that products are specifically designed for your furry friends.
Overall, look for a probiotic with several different species of live bacteria and effective strains that can withstand stomach and bile acids. A multi-strain is always a good idea as this will support a more diverse microbiome.
Cytoplan recently introduced a new technology to protect several probiotic supplements to withstand stomach and bile acids. GUARD (Gut Acid Resistant Delivery) technology has been introduced on top-selling probiotics such as Women’s Biotic and Acidophilus Plus, which now include NutraJIT technology.
This innovative and natural ingredient protects bacterial strains from stomach acid. It enables the timed release of probiotics within the intestines, maximising the probiotic efficacy at the ideal site of action in the body.
To find the right probiotic to suit you, depending on your age, gender, and lifestyle, exploring Cytoplan’s extensive range of probiotics from baby to senior might be helpful.