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Common Questions About Probiotics Answered

What Are Probiotics?

Commonly known as living bacteria that inhabit our digestive system, “probiotic” literally means promotion of microorganism grown. 

Probiotics and probiotic supplements can include bacteria, bacterial spores, or fungi (yeast).

Common Forms Of Probiotics Include:

  • Bifidobacterium ​spp.
  • Lactobacillus s​ pp.
  • Bacillus ​coagulans​ (bacterial spore)
  • Saccharomyces ​boulardii (fungus)

In order to have a thriving microbiome we need lot’s and lot’s of diversity! 

How Probiotics Get Their Names:

Probiotic names include a genus (first letter capitalized) and ​species​ (follows the genus, usually italicized). For example: Lactobacillus r​ hamnosus

Isolated or subtypes of a strain can also be described, with extra letters or digits usually added after the name. Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG or Bifidobacterium longum, for example.

What Are CFUs?

Colony Forming Units, or CFUs, are the count of probiotics that a manufacturing company guarantees are in one serving of the product b​y the expiry date.​ 

This means that prior to expiry, an individual dose of the product should technically contain more CFUs than is indicated on the bottle.

How Do Probiotics Work?

A multitude of factors, including antibiotic use, dietary choices, lifestyle, and genetics, can impact the microbial balance within the gut. 

Probiotics work by assisting in the transformation of naturally occurring colonies in the environments to which they are exposed. 

They encourage the growth of commensal (good) bacteria by  replenishing their numbers and/or pushing away non-commensal bacteria that have taken up residence in places they shouldn't be.

The Benefits Of Probiotics:

Probiotics have been shown to have a number of advantages in studies, including:

  • Digestive health/issues: Diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, acid reflux/Gerd, fat metabolism, vitamin/mineral absorption, vitamin production, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD)
  • Immune health/immune-mediated conditions: over 2⁄3 of a human’s immune system lives in the gut
  • Weight management and metabolism
  • Mental health/depression
And lot’s more!

    Dietary Sources Of Probiotics & Probiotic Supplements:

    Fermented foods including yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, and kimchi are the most significant sources of dietary probiotics. Fermented foods contain a wide variety of bacteria and yeasts that can provide health advantages, but strain and quantity of probiotics are very hard to determine. 

    Probiotic supplements come in oral, topical, and suppository forms and are made up of bacteria, bacterial spores, or fungi. Probiotic effects are based on certain families and species of bacteria, rather than merely amount or CFU count, according to research. 

    While some probiotics, such as Bacillus coagulans (bacterial spore) and Saccharomyces boulardii (fungus), can be stored at room temperature, most probiotics are bacteria and must be kept refrigerated since they lose efficacy and numbers when exposed to heat. Always pay attention to the storage directions on the product label.

    Transient vs. Resident Strains:

    Resident bacteria strains, or permanent gut dwellers, live on the walls of your intestinal tract. They form a protective layer against pathogenic ("unfriendly") germs there. 

    Transient probiotic strains, or temporary visitors, follow the digestive process and are eventually evacuated from the body. They are helpful in fighting certain types of bacteria, and are important to the immune system. 

    Resident strains: 

    Lactobacillus helveticus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacteria bifidum, Bifidobacteria breve, Bifidobacteria longum, Bifidobacteria infantis, Lactobacillus animalis, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus.

    Transient strains: 

    Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus, and Brevibacillus laterosporus.

    Different Strains Have Different Effects. Let’s Take A Look At Some of Them!

    A Glance At Lacto And Bifido Strain Benefits:

    Lactobacillus acidophilus – Maintains integrity of intestinal walls

    Lactobacillus fermentum – Helps neutralize toxic products made during digestion, promotes a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut

    Lactobacillus rhamnosus – The “travel probiotic“- found to be effective in reducing occurrences of traveler’s diarrhea


    Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium lactis bacteria are not associated with dairy products. In the realm of bacteria, lactobacillus and lactis do not imply that they contain lactose, nor does casei imply that they contain casein.

    Bifidobacteria bifidum – Promotes healthy digestion in both small and large intestines; especially helpful for proper digestion of dairy

    Bifidobacteria longum – Helps crowd out bad bacteria, helps neutralize everyday toxins in the gut, breaks down carbohydrates without producing excess gas.

    Saccharomyces boulardii: a non-pathogenic, transient (non-colonising) yeast, originally extracted from the lychee fruit, rather than a bacteria.

    Boulardii is the only yeast that has been formally recognised as a probiotic.

    Non-pathogenic transient (non-colonizing) yeast.

    Broad anti-pathogenic function/action especially on Candida, Escherichia coli and Salmonella.

    Increases the brush border enzymes in the intestinal wall, e.g. alkaline phosphatases and a-glucosidases, so may help to optimise nutrient absorption.

    Secrets an enzyme (leucine aminopeptidase) that helps to prevent allergies to common dietary proteins developing after gut damage resulting from gastroenteritis.

    Promotes the secretion of the immunoglobulin secretory IgA (sIgA), a vital part of our immune defences against incoming pathogens and toxins.

    Reduces antibiotic-associated diarrhoea (AAD), traveller’s diarrhoea, IBS-D, and acute or chronic diarrhoea in children and in adults.

    Spore-based Bacillus Strains Have The Ability To:

    • Survive the harsh conditions of the stomach 100%
    • Identify pathogenic organisms (and once they do this, they produce natural antibiotics to help kill off the bad bacteria…)
    • Competitively exclude the overgrowth of opportunistic organisms
    • Create compounds and nutrients to feed the good bacteria in the gut including antioxidants & vitamins.

    The Bacillus Subtilis Strain Benefits, Include:

    Produces many enzymes, several of which help break down food including plant materials the human body can’t digest.

    Has been shown to inhibit the growth of H. pylori, an organism associated with the occurrence of ulcers Has beneficial effects on the immune system.

    Produces some fungicidal compounds, which control fungal pathogens such as Candida.

    Antibiotic Therapy 

    Clinical studies reveal that antibiotic-resistant spore-based strains can survive in the presence of antibiotics thanks to the spore shell's protection. 

    Our natural resistance to antibiotics decreases as a result of the beneficial population being nearly wiped out, as well as the regrowth of pathogens such as fungi like Candida and viruses, which are both unaffected by antibiotics, as well as drug-resistant superbugs like Staph/MRSA, C. Diff., E. coli, and other harmful microbes. When all of your good guys are gone, you're more likely to get sicker than you were before you started taking antibiotics. 

    To avoid microbiome disruption, one capsule per antibiotic dose can be taken and continued at the same dose for a few days after the antibiotics are finished. 

    These spore germs will be policing and guarding your home.

    When taken on a daily basis, these potent commensal (good) bacteria have been demonstrated to eliminate pathogenic strains on their own, perhaps avoiding the need for antibacterial medicine.

    Microbiome Labs:


    Order Using: Direct2PatientLink

    Ask Stefanie Juon, ND which probiotics are right for you!

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    Any statements or products mentioned herein this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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