Probiotics supplements: types, benefits & use
Read on to explore everything you need to know about choosing the right probiotics supplements, from their types and benefits to their use, for promoting healthy digestion in the long run.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that are commonly referred to as 'good bacteria'. They work by helping to restore and achieve a healthy balance of gut bacteria in your body. External factors such as diet, stress, and illness may disrupt your microbial communities, and consuming probiotics supplements helps maintain a healthy composition of gut bacteria and immune functions.
What are the common types of probiotics?
Enterococcus is gram-positive bacteria found in human intestinal tracts. Its cell wall is composed of peptidoglycan and several sugars that can resist environmental changes and which display high-level antibiotic resistance. While it was associated with low toxicity in the past, it has recently been identified as one of the significant pathogenic bacteria causing urinary tract infections, bloodstream infections, endocarditis, and more. The two enterococcal species that are most pathogenic to humans include Enterococcus Faecalis and Enterococcus Faecium.
Lactobacillus is another type of probiotic found in the human gut, alimentary canal, and female genital tract, where they produce lactic acid to inhibit the growth of pathogenic organisms in a low pH environment. They are naturally present in food like yogurt which can support gut health.
Bacillus is a short, rod-shaped gram-positive bacteria that produces spores, which are highly resistant to heat, radiation, atmospheric pressure, and chemical treatments. Endospores are formed in response to unfavorable growth conditions in the surrounding environment.
Clostridium is a genus of anaerobic, gram-positive bacteria, whose spores are often larger than the bacteria itself. They can produce endospores to withstand unfavorable, extreme environmental conditions as well.
5. Lactococcus Lactis
Lactococcus Lactis is a gram-positive bacteria used extensively in dairy fermentation and produces lactic acid to make cheese, yogurt, and probiotic milk drinks.
A genus of gram-positive bacteria, Leuconostoc belongs to the family of Lactobacillaceae and is typically found in fermented food, including pickled vegetables, candied fruit, wines, cheese, and more. It can undergo multiple fermentations to produce lactic acid, acetic acid, and carbon dioxide, which helps to preserve food and enhance its flavor and texture. On top of that, it also produces beneficial substances such as antibiotics and exopolysaccharides (EPS).
Pediococcus belongs to the family of Lactobacillaceae and is a closely related strain of lactic acid bacteria and leuconostoc. It is typically found in fermented food.
Carnobacterium are common in fresh chilled and lightly preserved seafood. They are tolerant to freezing and high pressure, and are capable of growth and reproduction at low temperatures or in hypersaline environments. Hence, they are used extensively for fish, poultry, and meat processing.
What are the health benefits of probiotics?
Improved digestion and gut health
Multiple studies have shown that probiotics supplements can help alleviate digestive disorders such as symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and antibiotic-associated diarrhea. They can also reduce uncomfortable stomach problems such as constipation, gas, and bloating by maintaining a healthy level of probiotic bacteria in the gut.
Restore healthy gut flora
A healthy diet combined with probiotics supplements can boost the number of good bacteria and regulate the natural balance of intestinal flora in your body, which is likely to be disrupted by illnesses or medical treatments.
Boost your body’s natural defenses
As mentioned previously, probiotics supplements help regulate the healthy levels of gut flora to enhance immune functions and wellness.
Improve women's vaginal health
Probiotics acidify the vaginal environment to inhibit bacterial growth and help protect women from genital inflammation or discomfort. Certain probiotic types such as Lactobacillus Acidophilus and Lacticaseibacillus Rhamnosus help maintain bacterial balance in the vaginal tract. These types of probiotics offer exceptional health benefits when consumed with cranberries.
Build better mental health
In addition to providing physical benefits, probiotics supplements are increasingly shown to have a positive impact on mental health. Recent health claims have stated they may help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression by influencing the gut microbiota, creating a positive connection between the gut and the brain.
Lowered cholesterol levels
By breaking down bile acids in the gut, some strains of probiotics have been able to decrease cholesterol absorption and levels in the blood. This could lead to a modest reduction in one's cholesterol levels depending on the individual's pre-existing diet and lifestyle conditions.
How to eat probiotics supplements?
When is the best time to take probiotics?
The best time to take probiotics is before meals and bedtime. If your probiotics supplements are well encapsulated, you can consume them anytime throughout the day.
The correct way to take probiotics
Mix probiotics supplements into food and drinks, or dissolve them in lukewarm or cool water (not higher than 35℃) because high temperatures will kill living bacteria and eliminate their health benefits. Regular consumption of probiotics is also key to maintaining intestinal health and physical wellness. We do not recommend eating too many probiotics in one go or only consuming them once every few days.
Besides taking probiotics, a balanced diet is also essential for restoring digestive health. For instance, root vegetables such as pumpkin and potato are rich in whole grains, as well as other fruits, vegetables, and beans products, which can aid the growth of good bacteria in your gut.
Things to avoid when eating probiotics
As mentioned, probiotics are sensitive to high temperatures and should not be dissolved in hot water. In addition, avoid consuming probiotics supplements with caffeinated drinks such as coffee and tea and even wines and antibiotics, which could negatively stimulate the probiotics. It is also recommended to take probiotics at least one hour apart from other medications to avoid disrupting their effectiveness.
How to choose the right probiotics supplements?
When purchasing probiotics, pay attention to their product packaging, types of probiotic strains, and the number of probiotics. For more advice, you can dive deeper into our previous article: 5 Things To Know Before Buying Probiotic Supplements (Advice from the Consumer Council).
All probiotic products from Global Healing are vegan, natural, and gluten-free to cater to all different dietary requirements. Visit Global Healing's website today to learn more about our products and shop our full range of high-quality supplements.