The market has been flooded with probiotic products, and this popular alternative health treatment is found in everything from supplements to foods to toothpaste.
One marketing research firm projected the worldwide probiotics market
will be worth more than $46 billion by 2020.
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That's a lot of products for consumers to dig through in an effort to determine what will be the most helpful probiotics to treat their health issues. Here are four things to take into consideration when you're looking at the most popular probiotics:
1. Much of probiotics research is still in its infancy,
being done on animals or through smaller studies, but effects of probiotics in some areas, like antibiotic-associated diarrhea, are well-researched. Scientists exploring probiotics typically look at different kinds of bacteria. The word "probiotics" covers numerous beneficial bacteria, like Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, and Bidobacterium infantis, as examples. And even then, researchers typically pick a specific strain, often denoted by a number at the end of the name, when they're investigating whether a probiotic works on a specific condition.
2. Know what research is being done regarding your health condition and probiotics.
Explore the studies and be familiar with what kind of bacteria is being looked at as a possible help for whatever your issue is. Your healthcare practitioner should be able to help with this too. For instance, initial research on probiotics and leaky gut syndrome was done using Bifidobacterium infantis, U.S. News & World Report said
3. Since probiotics have been most well-studied in regard to gut issues
like bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation, many of the probiotics on the market will contain the types of bacteria effective in those situations. Look for a probiotic supplement that will help you; Culturelle is marketed as a digestive aid and it contains 100 percent Lactobacillus GG, which is considered to be helpful for antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and possibly helpful for other GI conditions, Drugs.com said
. Some people just look for the product that contains the largest number of different strains and take those.
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4. Talk to your doctor about an adequate dosage of probiotics.
Health maintenance can sometimes be achieved through foods like yogurt (with live cultures), kefir, and other functional foods. But for treating a medical condition, you might need to take a probiotic supplement to get enough of the bacteria to be helpful. Probiotics are measured in colony forming units, or CFUs, so you may see wording on the label that says, for example, "Contains 10 billion CFUs."
"Typically, a probiotic should contain several billion microorganisms to increase the likelihood of adequate gut colonization. For lactobacilli, typical doses used in studies ranged from 1–20 billion colony-forming units per day," according to Medscape
. "For S. boulardii, most studies examined daily doses ranging from 250 to 500 mg." (S. boulardii is measured in milligrams because it is a yeast probiotic.) The website contains a table that offers effective doses in various probiotic strains, as based on medical studies.
5. Taking probiotics typically is safe,
but in some cases, people who have compromised immune systems can be harmed by taking this beneficial bacteria. Always consult with your medical practitioner.
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