Information about probiotics is everywhere. While they are for sure beneficial to your health, it's important to know how probiotics benefit your health, and also what the best probiotics are.
Gut health is crucial to overall health - and fermented foods and probiotics are apparently two things that are very useful for improving gut health. I've had issues with fermented foods in the past, so I have focused mainly on probiotics when it comes to improving the digestive health of my family.
I've been doing a lot of reading about the benefits of probiotics recently while trying to boost the good bacteria count in my intestines.
And what I've been learning is fascinating.
Today I'm going to share some of what I've been learning plus more about my personal experience.
The "straight poop" you might say.
Again, this post is a "lengthy one," but as you'll see, I have a lot I want to share with you.
10 Gut Facts and Benefits of Probiotics
First of all, you might want to check out my post about Gut Health Facts.
But here are more facts to spark your interest about gut health and probiotics.
1. You have 400-500 different species of bacteria in your gut, weighing approximately 3 pounds. (Source)
2. 85% of your immune system is gut microbes. (Source)
3. Good bacteria is passed through generations. As the baby passes through the birth canal, he receives beneficial bacteria from his mother. That's why it's important for moms to keep up their levels of probiotics, and why C-section babies are bacteria compromised from birth. (Source)
4. Probiotics have been proven to have a beneficial effect on the immune system (Source)
5. Good bacteria are supposed to comprise 85 percent of the bacteria in the gut.
6. In 2011, US sales of probiotics were over $770 million. I contributed a fair bit to that total! (Keep reading for more details.) (Source)
7. Probiotics have been shown to be effective in treating:
8. Probiotics might result in healthy weight loss. (Source)
9. Probiotics might have a role in slowing the development of cancer. (Source)
20. Probiotics might have a beneficial effect on emotional health. (Source)
No wonder that the word "probiotics" comes from the word for "life." Truly, our lives may depend on a healthy population of good gut flora.
Do All Probiotics Work?
A reader asked me a while ago what probiotic I recommend.
In a nutshell, my family and I have taken many probiotics over the years.
Some seemed to work.
And some didn't.
For me, "working" constituted a clear change in digestive health, evidenced by either rumbling in the stomach and flatulence (gas)(showing that the good bacteria are attacking the bad guys), improved bowel habits (regular bowel movements with improved consistency--sorry to be graphic folks, but when you're talking about gut health, things get a little "messy.")
What Brand Has the Best Probiotics?
Following are most of the probiotics that we have tried and the results. I hope to continue to add to this list and possibly do a new post as well.
Didn't see much change one way or another.
2. NOW brand
(Most recently we tried their Probiotic-10, but previously I think we tried another variety. Sorry, but I don't remember the name.)
I don't remember any particularly positive changes from this one.
3. UAS DDS
This one came highly recommended to me. I don't recall noticing many changes from it.
I noticed this one affecting the stools of my kids, particularly of my youngest, but I didn't notice anything personally.
I only took a few samples of this brand. I had pretty clear "gurgling" in my stomach as a result but it was really pricey (about $60 per month with no option for a discount.)
Later, I used this brand again and had the same symptoms. Clearly, things are moving and shaking. I highly recommend this as a good option.
However, note that the capsules have carrageenan. Some say it causes inflammation, while others say that there isn't enough cause for concern. I tend to think that it's better to avoid this according to the precautionary principle--avoid unless you know it's safe. But it's up to you.
Hyperbiotics was started by Jamie, the owner, following a horrible bout with a parasite. Her knowledge about probiotics is solid and her products are great. I've been trying them out for awhile now and have seen good effects.
You can see we've tried a lot. I'm guessing we've easily spent thousands of dollars on probiotics over the years, many of which did nothing or little to nothing for our health.
Recently, our family started using GutPro. It's a probiotic unlike many others in that it's super concentrated. It's not cheap, but it lasts a REALLY REALLY long time.
Just a teensy bit on a teensy spoon and that's all you need!
I have tried sooo many probiotics over the years, and with many of them, I feel NOTHING. But with GutPro? Gurgle gurgle gurgle…..something is happening for sure!
The Axis Trebiotic product is a new one for me--I'm going to try it and see how it goes. Prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics, all in one. I'll report back but this is very interesting information to me--that postbiotics apparently are likely responsible for much of the benefits that science has been attributing to probiotics.
Fascinating! (Note this product was added to the post in 2/21.) You can get $10 off with this link. I'll update here and elsewhere for sure!
Miessence Probiotics - Our Experience
The story behind why I even tried InLiven is a funny one.
I was taking the NOW brand that I mentioned above (but wasn't noticing any real positive benefits), and I was also taking 1 teaspoon of Strata Flora in the afternoon (you can find Strata Flora on Amazon too, but always better to support a small company in my opinion). Strata Flora is an amazing blend (and it really "makes you poop"), but it isn't just a probiotic, so I was always feeling I should be supplementing with something with more of a "punch."
Regardless, the makers of Strata Flora were having trouble financially and were possibly going out of business.
So in order to keep myself "regular" I felt I really needed to go on the hunt for a new probiotic.
At the time, I read a post at Kitchen Stewardship (Katie's a good friend of mine) about probiotics, and as I perused the comments, I stumbled upon one by Lacey Swartz (she'll be in on the probiotic teleseminar this Thursday night) that was really intriguing.
I started using InLiven two years ago and definitely noticed some major health improvements – namely, no more yeast infections (used to struggle with them chronically), was negative on the strep test with my 4th baby (had been positive with the first 3), and overall just fewer bouts of illness.
And then she mentioned the opportunity to get 20% off or even to earn products for free, and stated that the company was "no-hype" and "no pressure."
No pressure? Now I was really was interested.
I decided to poke around her site and found it was a company I'd known about for a long time--Miessence.
I'd been getting emails mentioning Miessence's cosmetics for a while, but I never thought twice about it because I didn't use many cosmetics and wasn't convinced I needed "safe or organic stuff" on my face. (Now I know differently.)
But now that I found out that they had probiotics as well.
Now we're talking!
I spent hours poking around their site, reading about their mission statement for organic standards and sustainability, and I was hooked.
I contacted Lacey and asked a ton of questions (literally, a ton--you know how "investigative" I can be) and even got to run some questions by the owner of the company.
Anyway, I finally signed up as a rep and started using the InLiven in July of 2012.
You can read about my struggles with InLiven and all my wondering whether I could handle fermented foods in Why I Don't Have Fermented Foods on My Blog.
But now, I am taking Miessence's even stronger fermented probiotic drink and am tolerating it fine.
I even decided to put my whole family on InLiven to see how they would do.
Really, I would have loved to put my whole family on Miessence's probiotics right from the start, but I buy my probiotics in bulk so we had some bottles to use up. Plus, I wanted to make sure it was really worth it before I put them all on something that cost more than we were already spending.
Here are the results:
Recently I noticed my husband had a lot of, let's say, digestive issues. Lots of time in the bathroom and that kind of thing.
I asked him to try the InLiven and the very next day the lengthy bathroom visits stopped and he said he clearly and quickly noticed improved digestion.
UPDATE: (later in the date on 5/28.) In the interest of saving money, I asked my husband to go back to his other probiotic yesterday and today so we could use up what we had. Well, let's just say that there was a lot more time in the bathroom both yesterday and today. Hmmmm....
Oldest Son's Results
I started my oldest on 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon of InLiven.
He told me that he felt better emotionally since starting the InLiven.
I think it really might be helping because we have had a real overload of stress in our family over the past month (way beyond the norm), and although he is struggling, he's weathering it better than I think he normally would have.
Youngest Son's Results
My youngest has been having a horrid time with allergies this spring.
So bad that we almost went to Urgent Care once.
He's had swollen eyes, sneezing, runny nose and even hives.
I started him on 1/2 teaspoon of InLiven and within a few days, I noticed his symptoms lessening. I track the pollen count daily, so I know that there have been really high counts in our area since starting it. But he hasn't had really severe symptoms since he started taking InLiven. Still bad on some days, but not quite as bad.
I already wrote about my "intense gurgling" and itching ears, constipation, loose stools, and the like (see Why I Don't Have Fermented Foods on My Blog and Probiotics Experiment Update), so I already knew that the InLiven and Fast Tract were working.
I continued upping my dose of Fast Tract (2 Tbsp is the recommended daily dose) to my current dose of 8.5 Tablespoons per day, spread out in 3 doses throughout the day.
My digestion seems to be stabilizing, but I am still getting some die off reactions. Some ear and rectal itching, mainly, but also fatigue. I am sleeping heavily, waking up about 5-6 hours after I go to sleep and then sleeping heavily for a total of 8 or more hours.
It appears the probiotics have a lot of the "bad guys" to fight off in my gut.
No surprise after all of the antibiotics I consumed as a kid, in addition to the sugar I ate willfully.
Oh, and the stress.
Anyway, I am thrilled that we found something that is really high quality to help with our family's health.
And now, I get to share with all of you what I have learned--and more--in the Free Probiotics Teleseminar.
Even if you aren't free then, please sign up to join us. You'll get an email of the recording, plus you'll be eligible to enter a giveaway for these powerful probiotics (there will be 2 winners).
I am going to interview the maker of InLiven and Fast Tract, Czerral, and you will have time to have your own questions answered at the end of our time together. Just think--you'll get to ask the expert yourself whatever you like.
For more on probiotics, check out the Probiotics Teleseminar Wrap-Up that includes some of the more notable quotes from the call.
What probiotic do YOU use?