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How To Choose The Right Probiotic Supplement

Posted on05 Nov 2019
Probiotics have gained a lot of attention recently as people are more aware of the importance of a healthy gut on their overall well being. Many modern day ailments, such as fatigue, weight gain, skin conditions or weakened immunity, can be traced back to imbalances in gut bacteria; mainly driven by chronic stress and a reliance on highly processed food.

A good way to shift the balance in favour of the good bacteria is to include probiotic-rich, fermented foods into your diet and eating more natural, unprocessed foods. Another way is to support that with probiotic supplements that can quickly and effectively repopulate your gut flora. But with so many options and unfamiliar ingredients, choosing the right probiotic supplement can be daunting!

Where do you start? Fret not, we’ll tell what to look out for when choosing a probiotic supplement for you and your family!

Here’s what to look out for when choosing probiotic supplements:

  1. Go for the billions but not over the daily optimal intake - The general recommendation is 1 - 10 billion colony-forming units (CFUs), which is a measure of a probiotic supplement’s potency.
  2. Diversity of live & active cultures - Bacteria cultures and strains which have different functions, so look for a probiotic supplement with multiple strains, specifically Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. These cultures are scientifically found to be beneficial to the digestive health. Opt for a supplement that explicitly mentions “live” or “active” cultures as you want to introduce live bacteria to improve your gut flora.
  3. Look for enteric coated or encapsulated - When probiotics are enteric coated, it means they are protected from stomach acids, so they can better survive the journey right down to your intestines, where they are needed. Live probiotics are highly sensitive organisms that can be destroyed easily so probiotics that are not encapsulated would probably not even reach your gut!
  4. Check Storage Temperature - Most probiotic powders don’t require refrigeration but must be stored below 25 oC. That’s not ideal for tropical and humid climate like Singapore’s where room temperature averages around 31 - 33 oC. Be sure to read the labels closely! 
  5. Added Prebiotics - Think of prebiotics as food for the live bacteria in your gut, which mainly comes from plant fibre. A good probiotic supplement should also come with prebiotics that will help your existing gut flora grow and multiply, ensuring a healthy balance of good bacteria. A good probiotic supplement should also come with prebiotics that will help your existing gut flora grow and multiply, ensuring a healthy balance of good bacteria.

Other considerations when choosing probiotics:

Probiotics for a specific health issue: Choose a probiotic that contains strains which have been scientifically researched for that function.

Buying probiotics for kids: Consider how your child would be consuming the probiotic on a daily basis too. Powdered probiotics means it can be easily mixed into smoothies and juices. You also want to be sure that your child’s probiotics are 100% natural and doesn’t contain artificial colouring or sweeteners - which could be more detrimental than helpful.

Probiotics for travel: You will appreciate the convenience of individually packaged supplements that can be easily consumed. A hardy probiotic supplement that can survive that tropical temperatures also mean you don’t have to worry about the effectiveness of your probiotics in treating a bout of traveller’s diarrhea.

How to tell if your probiotics are right for you? Not all probiotics are right for every person, sometimes it’s about finding the right fit.
If you experience negative symptoms, such as gas or bloating, it could mean the probiotic isn’t right for you. The efficacy of a probiotic supplement is also put to the test when you have an upset stomach. A good probiotic can and should effectively relieve diarrhoea.

Now that you’re aware of what to look out for, you’ll be in a better position to choose the right probiotic the next time you’re at the pharmacy!


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