What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms, usually but not always bacteria. Small amounts are present in foods such as yoghurt, miso, and other fermented juices or drinks, but to get their therapeutic effects you may have to consume larger amounts, which are available in capsules and powder. The potency is usually listed as an estimated number of live bacteria (such as ten billion) or as colony-forming units.
The first word in the name (such as Lactobacillus) is the genus. The species is the second name, and the strain is the last part of the name (such as GG).
How do we select from the many brands?
Look for a product that contains more than a billion bugs. Ten billion or more is even better. Some supplements also contain prebiotics, which are selective food or fertilisers for the probiotics.
Did you know?Different strains of probiotics have different effects, so you may want to pick the product a strain that will help that problem that you're trying to rectify.
For example, two strains that have been studied specifically for constipation are Bifidobacterium lactis and Lactobacillus casei Shirota.
Tip: it's also good to rotate between different brands of probiotics to maximise exposure to a larger number of potentially helpful microorganisms.