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Digestion : How to Choose Your Probiotics

Probiotics are one of the fastest growing products for the wellness industry. Yet, many people have little understanding of what is important when choosing a probiotic supplement.
There are several things to consider:
1. Functionality –How people react to probiotics is very individualized. The function of probiotics is related to the condition, the dose and the strain of probiotic.

2. Safety it is helpful to look for probiotics with a long history of use. Some probiotics have been given GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status, look for GRAS when selecting probiotics. Probiotics can come from human, animal, soil or food origin, human strains are most compatible with the human gut.

3. Reliability Probiotics should meet or exceed their label guarantees of live cell tally (CFU/g) at time of purchase and expiration date. Probiotics are live microorganisms that live in little or no oxygen in the gut; they are sensitive to oxygen, moisture and heat. Production and packaging of probiotics should involve limiting exposure to oxygen by packaging in barrier packages and elimination of oxygen by flushing with nitrogen. It is important to have low moisture in the probiotic capsule. Products should be protected from dramatic fluctuations in temperature (this is why many are recommended to be refrigerated).

4. Individual Probiotic Needs Dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, corn-free, non-GMO, veggie capsules are all qualities important to some people, read the label to find out if your probiotics meet these needs.

Probiotic strains differ in many ways:

Acid and bile resistance
Many probiotics are not able to survive the acid in the stomach and bile in the small intestine to reach the desired location in the gut (in some cases, fewer than 25% can make it through) – look for acid and bile resistant probiotics.

Colonizers vs. transients
Many probiotics are not able to colonize in the gut; they provide health benefits only on their way through the gut. Colonizers can multiply from 100 to 200-fold so 5 billion will become 500 billion or more. Some probiotics start with very large numbers of bacteria (because often less than 25% even make it to the gut) and then the benefits are very transient.

Production of enzymes
Some probiotics are able to produce enzymes that aid in digestion – proteases, lipases, amylases, cellulase and lactase. Natural production of digestive enzymes declines with age in humans so it helps to have additional enzymes.

Production of vitamins
Some probiotics are able to produce vitamins to help the user meet nutritional needs. This is particularly important with vitamin B12 since we lose the ability to absorb B12 as we age.

Testing for Probiotic Qualities
When researchers evaluate bacteria for probiotic qualities, they evaluate them with a battery of laboratory (in vitro) testing, these tests give some indication of how the probiotic is going to react in the body. Testing involves evaluation of sensitivity to acid, bile, stomach and intestinal enzymes, effect on production of cytokines and immune response, ability to adhere to cells that line the intestines. Companies that do probiotic research use these results in formulating their products. Look for companies with experience in the field.

How many strains do you need?

The right strain(s) are more important than the number of strains. Selection of probiotics should consider whether testing of the formula is done with individual strains only or whether the product is tested as a formula or blend. Look for quality companies that test the entire formula, not just individual strains.

How do you select a probiotic brand?

The consumer must consider the above selection criteria before choosing his/her probiotic brand. Look for probiotics with a success record. DDS probiotics from UAS Laboratories have been used by consumers around the world for 33 years and meet all of the selection criteria. Dr. Dash, the founder of UAS Laboratories, has helped to shape the probiotics industry through innovations, high quality standards and industry-wide contributions.

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Alexandria, MN Natural Health Practitioners
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