Home News How to Choose the Best Probiotic, According to a Doctor Who Specializes in Gut Health
News - July 14, 2021

How to Choose the Best Probiotic, According to a Doctor Who Specializes in Gut Health


We know that supporting bacterial balance in the gut can have an impact throughout the body, but setting out to choose the best probiotic supplement can feel overwhelming now that supporting the microbiome is a whole new frontier in human health. 

As we continue to learn more about the ways our gut bacteria and microbiome are connected to significantly more non-digestive bodily functions than many of us had imagined, it’s clear we underestimated the power of these tiny-but-mighty bacteria. 

But the enormous potential comes with a well-known challenge in the health and supplement space: getting a trusty team of the best probiotics safely through the acidic environment of the stomach.

And it comes with a lesser known challenge, as well: making sure the probiotics are also nourished for the journey and hydrated for the stay. 

So how can you know if your probiotic is actually arriving alive and that you’re not just paying big bucks for bacteria that’s kicked the bucket? 

To answer this, and better understand all the science behind making a probiotic that actually works, we sat down with Naturopathic Doctor and founder of Probulin Probiotics, Jason Mitchell, who spoke with us about the top three things to prioritize when shopping for the best probiotic supplements. 

We’re going to be diving into: 

  • Whether or not even the best probiotic supplement strains “die off” in the stomach (and how can we prevent this from happening)
  • The best time of day to take probiotics
  • Other health benefits associated with probiotics
  • Keys to probiotic survivability  
  • The secret to the most more effective probiotic supplements
  • And how long it takes for probiotics to exert their effects

Now granted, he is the founder of Probulin Probiotics (chances are you’ve seen this popular brand in stores or online several times!) so needless to say his brand is committed to the high standards discussed below. Whether you choose Probulin or another brand, the important thing is knowing what to look for and the questions to ask when shopping for the best probiotic supplement.

Question 1: Do even the best probiotics “die off” in the stomach and how can we prevent this from happening?

Unfortunately, even the best probiotics will die off in the stomach unless protected in a couple of ways. Stomach acid is a known enemy of probiotics. Now, many probiotic supplements will include a protective capsule to help shield the cultures through this phase, but once the capsule dissolves, probiotics are on their own for the rest of the journey, which includes passage through the acid and bile. 

Because probiotics are actual living organisms, even the best probiotic supplement formulas are only as effective as their ability to “arrive alive” — and historically, those rates are pretty poor. This is why it’s not uncommon to see some probiotic supplement manufacturers packing their formulas with upwards of 50-100 billion CFU per serving, simply in hopes that enough of the beneficial bacteria will survive the trek.

Q2: What is the best time of day to take probiotics?

A: Given it’s best for stomach acid to be as low as possible, the best time of day to take a probiotic is either in the morning or the evening, when little to no food is in your stomach. 

But I do like to advocate for simply taking them, if worrying about when is the best time to take probiotics is at all a hindrance. 

Q3: What’s the secret to creating the best probiotic supplement that’s actually effective? 

A: It’s simple: deliver the best probiotic cultures alive and healthy

Dead probiotics don’t do as much good, and probiotics that aren’t well cared for with prebiotic food and hydration will easily weaken and die before they’ve reached their destination. 

Q4: This is clearly your area of expertise–you founded Probulin with the goal of increasing probiotic survivability–so what are some keys you found?  

A: Good question. For anyone looking to choose the best probiotic supplement there are really three things that are most important: 

  1. Making sure the probiotics make it through the stomach and arrive alive 
  2. And making sure they can actually sustain life once they’ve made it safely from the stomach
  3. Making sure they’re protected from heat

But about the heat….let’s talk about that because this is something oft overlooked. 

Making sure probiotics can survive the heat in transit

We talked about making sure your probiotics arrive alive, but before that they have to arrive to you alive! 

Many people understand that one of the biggest threats to probiotic cultures is heat, but don’t realize that this threat is greatest during transit. The temperatures inside a delivery truck can easily hit 150ºF for sustained periods, wiping out fragile probiotics before they even reach store shelves or your home. 

If you can’t tell, I’m pretty passionate about this, because it’s very much missed by many brands out there–brands with great formulas and they miss this one key thing. It’s one of the things I refuse to compromise on for Probulin probiotics, no matter how much more it costs us on our side. All of our formulas are shipped on ice to keep them cold, and are packaged in thermal insulation liners to keep them protected, so they’re delivered to retailers safe and sound.

Making sure probiotics can actually sustain life 

Lastly, making sure they can sustain life after they’ve passed the stomach. Because like we noted, even a protective capsule will dissolve, and then what? 

It’s important to choose a brand that solves for this by offering a second layer of protection for your probiotic supplements, and I can talk a little bit about how Probulin does this because it’s especially impressive, if I may say so. 

We use a proprietary science known as MAKTrek®, which offers a second stage of protection against bitter bile. After the capsule dissolves, a brown seaweed extract forms this really cool gel-like barrier around the probiotics, protecting them from anything around them. This “seaweed submarine,” as we like to call it, ushers the probiotics into the gut and then gradually dissolves, releasing the probiotics into their new home.

Once they arrive, the dormant probiotics will begin to wake up as they are exposed to hydration. But this stage is also critical, as probiotics that hydrate too quickly can explode. MAKTrek®  includes electrolytes to ensure slow and steady hydration, so the probiotics are safely revived. This system also includes prebiotics to keep the probiotics nourished as they set up camp.

Q5: When most people hear “probiotics,” they immediately think of gut health. Are there other health benefits associated with probiotics?

A: Absolutely. There are more targeted probiotic formulas out there, such as probiotics for women or probiotics for men, but one of the main benefits of probiotics more generally—outside of supporting gut health—is supporting immune function. 

With a network of cells, tissues, organs, and molecules that are scattered throughout the body, the immune system is one of the body’s most complicated systems—and the gut is the immune system hub. Our intestines contain more immune cells than all other parts of the body combined. You may have even heard that more than 70% of the immune system resides in the gut. So, a healthy gut means a healthy immune system, and probiotics support both.

Q6: Can you dive a little deeper into how the best probiotics support immunity?

A: Happy to, this is a favorite topic of mine. There are three main ways probiotics support immune function. 

First, and most importantly, they help maintain the GI tract’s microbial balance. There’s a whole microbiological world living inside us, with players that are both desirable and undesirable, but that keep each other in check. Supplements of live beneficial bacteria shift the balance toward the desirable helping to support and smooth overall gut activity.   

Second, probiotics help maintain a healthy gut barrier. This is hugely important, because the gut barrier is our body’s gatekeeper, deciding what to let in and what to keep out. A strong gut barrier lets the good stuff in, like vitamins and minerals, but keeps the bad stuff out.

And third, probiotics directly support the function of white blood cells, so these key members of the immune system are better at doing their primary job.

Q7: How long does it take for some of the best probiotics to exert their effects?

A: Like most supplements, they are best when taken consistently, and, over time, support wellness by helping to maintain a healthier gastrointestinal environment — the place where most of our immune system lives. It’s best to take them every day as part of your regimen, just like you would a multivitamin.

Q8: Last question, do you offer any probiotic supplements that specifically focus on immunity or do you have a favorite from your line?

Yes! We recently introduced Total Care Immune Probiotic. This product checks all the boxes. It combines 10 different probiotic strains with 100 mg of a special elderberry extract called Eldermune™, which provides the equivalent to 4,225 mg of whole elderberry. So Total Care Immune Probiotic delivers those foundational health benefits of probiotics with the immune-boosting power of elderberry. And like all of products, it checks the three most important boxes: 

  • We go above and beyond to make sure they arrive alive 

Our “Seaweed Submarine” offers a unique and effective way to protect the beneficial bacteria from the stomach’s acidic environment. 

  • And making sure they can actually sustain life once they’ve made it safely from the stomach

Once probiotics have arrived alive, they need to be kept alive. This requires nourishment and proper hydration. Each of our formulas include prebiotics that keep probiotics nourished, while our delivery system hydrates them.

  • Making sure they’re protected from heat 

We ship each order of probiotics insulated and on ice. You can have confidence knowing that your probiotics will never be susceptible to subpar shipping conditions. 

Of course, any of our products are awesome, so it’s really about finding the clean-ingredient formula that is the best probiotic supplement for you. All of our strains at Probulin are scientifically studied, we ship insulated and on ice so probiotics are always properly protected from heat, and we designed the capsule to offer multiple layers of protection from stomach acid, and bile, so the probiotics arrive alive in your gut.

It’s clear that on top of researching the best probiotic formulas for you, confirming a brand is at least focusing on three things is critical to making sure you’re getting what you’re paying for. To recap, here are Jason’s top three tips:  

  1. Make sure the probiotic brand you choose offers a clear way to ensure the probiotics actually make it through the stomach’s acidic environment. (And preferably via a technology that isn’t using whacky chemicals.)
  2. Make sure the probiotics you’re paying for can actually sustain life once they’ve made it safely from the stomach–this requires nourishment via prebiotics and regulation hydration.
  3. Confirm the brand takes measures to protect their formulas while in transit to you.

If you’re looking to learn more about the best probiotics, we encourage you to explore the impressive line of Probulin probiotics. They have great formulas for probiotics for women, probiotics for immunity, and even probiotics for children

__________

Jason Mitchell, N.D. designs nutritional health products for humans. From an early age, he was grafted into the natural products industry. Fresh out of college, he started building one of today’s leading vitamin companies and in the process, designed and launched more than 300 dietary supplements and related products to the market. Today, he is the co- Founder of Probulin and HempFusion, two leading brands in their categories with potential to disrupt the industry. He is a Naturopathic Doctor board certified by the American Naturopathic Medical Certification Board and a Board Member for the US Hemp Roundtable.

 





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