When it comes to maintaining your health, it’s what’s inside that counts. Your body is host to a system of bacteria that can help you function at your best. These microbes are particularly important for healthy digestion. To cultivate the best blend of bacteria in your gut, turning to probiotic supplements (containing live bacteria) can have a positive effect. But what are the best strains of probiotics to support your health?
The gut microbiota is a system of microorganisms that work together in a symbiotic relationship with your body to help it function better. Microbiota can help produce essential vitamins and beneficial fatty acids, strengthen the integrity of the gut, help protect against pathogens and improve your immunity.
Factors like diet, illness, and antibiotics can disrupt a healthy balance of bacteria in the body, negatively impact cell health, and increase the risk for intestinal disease and inflammation. Taking a probiotic can help restore this balance, but it’s important to know what strains to take to get the results you desire.
For Stress and Mental Health
Research supports the probiotic strains Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum to be effective in reducing psychological distress and anxiety. Other strains including Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobaterium infantis, Bifidobacterium longum and Bifidobacterium bifidum are among those effective for anxiety and depression, and may help improve memory. Probiotics may also be effective for ADHD, OCD and other neurological conditions.
Probiotics help increase immune function by modulating inflammation, increasing activity of white blood cells, competing with harmful pathogens and improving the integrity of the gut. Strains that are identified to have immune-stimulating properties include Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Streptococcus thermophilus,and Bifidobacterium infantis.
For Weight Loss
Several strains may be effective in reducing body weight and fat accumulation while decreasing inflammation that can increase the risk of obesity. In a review, Lactobacillus gasseri, Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium lactis combined with Lactobacillus rhamnosus were found to be effective in improving metabolism. Another study involving women with PCOS found that a probiotic supplement including Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum was effective in reducing weight.
The strain Bifidobacterium longum can be helpful in improving symptoms in individuals with ulcerative colitis. For other inflammatory bowel diseases, strains including Sacchromyces boulardi and Lactobacillus rhamnosus are shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of IBS. Combinations of strains from Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Streptococcus in probiotic supplements also appear to be effective.
To maintain the benefits of these probiotics, it's important to take them on a consistent basis — if a probiotic is stopped, the bacteria strain will eventually return to its prior colonization levels.
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