What Probiotic Strains Are Best?
As gross as it may sound, we all have trillions of tiny bacteria thriving in our bodies at any given moment. In fact, estimates suggest we have between 1-2 kg of bacteria in our intestinal tract. But the good news is, our bodies can actually live in harmony with all these tiny critters. In a normal, healthy human intestinal tract about 80% of the bacteria that reside there are “good” and 20% are “bad,” and they are constantly waging a war for resources and greater territory.
So what makes bacteria good or bad? Basically, good bacteria—probiotics—are those that provide a health benefit to the host and bad bacteria—pathogens—are those that cause harm to the host. Harmful bacteria can use up nutrients, attach to cells and multiply, feeding on the cell as nutrition, attack other cells, and produce poisonous toxins all of which can lead to multiple poor health issues.
It’s easy to see how bacteria can be harmful, but in what ways can they be beneficial? There are plenty of ways, but let’s look at three main benefits.
Normalize GI tract bacteria. Probiotics help keep the overall bacterial composition in the normal 80/20 balance. They do this by creating an environment in which it’s difficult for pathogens to multiply, by blocking receptor sites in the intestine so pathogens can’t adhere to them, and some even produce antimicrobial substances that kill pathogens off.
Enhance immune system function. The body’s immune function is supported by probiotics because they increase the number and activity of T cells and NK cells, they increase the gut barrier function, preventing pathogens from escaping into the bloodstream to attack other organs, they help dampen inflammation, and they help reduce allergy symptoms by decreasing IgE levels and increasing the production of enzymes.
Improves metabolic benefits. Probiotics help the body to better absorb nutrients in the large intestine and some actually produce nutrients such as B vitamins and vitamin K.
There are numerous good bacterial strains that have been found to be beneficial for human health that are now being used in probiotic supplements. Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum are two of the most common and most well-known species, but there are other species which are very beneficial and are typically low in a Western-based diet. L. plantarum, for example is a very hearty and adaptable strain which would only naturally be found in those on a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables. It establishes itself effectively in all areas of the intestinal tract, is one of the stronger antimicrobial strains, and has shown many proven benefits through clinical studies such as relieving symptoms of IBS, lowering LDL cholesterol, preventing leaky gut, and more.
Health First ProBio Supreme offers an abundant source of L. plantarum, along with 13 other beneficial strains, ensuring an effective and powerful probiotic formula. Supplements that include a prebiotic—a non-digestible fibre that feeds bacteria—are especially beneficial because prebiotics help probiotic strains to establish themselves in the intestinal tract. ProBio Supreme includes prebiotics in its formula, making it an excellent choice in giving the “good guys” an advantage in the battle within.