In today’s society we are bombarded by the marketing message that more is better – not least the message that the more billions of bacteria in a probiotic the more powerful it will be. But when it comes to probiotics this is definitely not necessarily so. In fact, the quality of the probiotic strain or combination of strains is way more important, plus the research behind them.
There is little point taking a really high-strength probiotic if it does not survive well at room temperature until its expiry date, or survive the challenge of our stomach acid and bile. Once it has made it into the gut it must be able to adhere to the gut wall to colonise and flourish, and it should be able to secrete antimicrobial subtances to ward off the overgrowth of other ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut. These are all basic requirements for a high-quality probiotics before we even consider the strength or the number of billions.
Sometimes a lower-strength probiotic can perform as well as, or better than, a high-strength probiotic. A study published in 2015 looked at Bifidobaterium lactis BB-12, which is considered to be the most well-documented and researched strain in the Bifidobacterium genus. Over 1,200 volunteers who suffered from constipation were given either 1 billion B. lactis BB-12, 10 billion B. lactis BB-12or a placebo each day for four weeks. Both groups taking the probiotic strain had a statistically significant improvement in their frequency of bowel movements, compared to the placebo group. Interestingly, no significant difference was found between the 1 billion and 10 million groups. In this particular scenario high-strength did not perform better than low strength. Instead, the overall quality of the strain shone through in the results, regardless of the strength.
The Natural Health Hub specialises in probiotics, offering a full range of different probiotics tailored for particular needs. For more information head on here.
Read more on how it is the strain of a probiotic that is important, rather than merely its family
For more advice on the benefits of probiotics and choosing the right one for you, pop in any time. Alternatively, for a full consultation on your gut flora and probiotic needs, visit our naturopathic nutritionist Rhi Hepple.