4 Pro Tips For Choosing A Probiotic That Actually Gets Things Moving
In the market for a probiotic? If you want to improve your gut health, you should be—but first you have to know what to look for. There are ample options available today, and according to nutrition scientist, dietitian, and mindbodygreen's vice president of scientific affairs Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, there are four key factors to look for on probiotic labels. Here's what to know.
The 4 things to look for in your probiotic
Identify the genus, species, and strain
First things first: Look for the genus, species, and strain of each probiotic bacterial strain included in the product. If those three things aren't listed, or it's a proprietary blend, Ferira notes you could reach out to the company to ask for more specifics, or simply opt for one that includes that information from the get-go.
"I would prefer people choose a brand that's transparent and includes those three pieces of info. If they don't, it's like asking what my city, state, and ZIP code are and me saying I'm from the United States of America—it's super nonspecific," she explains.
For example, if you see "Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07" on a label, that means the genus is Bifidobacterium, the species is lactis, and the strain is Bi-07.
Why does that trio of info matter, you ask? According to Ferira, "That identifies the specific probiotic strain name, which is how probiotics are researched in clinical literature," so it can tell you a lot about a product's efficacy.
More does not always equal better
When it comes to probiotics, more strains does not always equal a better probiotic. In fact, sometimes less is more, Ferira says.
"The probiotic strain amounts (i.e., X or Y billions of colony-forming units, CFUs) should actually align with the efficacious doses shown to provide clinical effectiveness for the benefit you're seeking in the published research trials," she explains.
Avoid proprietary blends
Proprietary blends aren't uncommon to find in a probiotic, but Ferira says you're better off avoiding them. As she notes, "Blends lack transparency because you do not know which probiotic strain is contributing to the overall amount of CFUs, and strain-level dosing is directly tied to efficacy."
In other words, you don't actually know how much of each strain you're getting with proprietary blends, which has a big impact on how well the probiotic will work for you.
Look for targeted strains
Last but not least, probiotic strains are not all the same, with some strains being suited for some purposes over others. (Yep, probiotics can do a lot more than just help you poop.) To that end, Ferira recommends investing in a probiotic that has strains and strain combinations with clinical research backing the targeted benefits you're looking for.
"After all, local microbiomes (e.g., skin, oral, gut, vaginal, etc.) are specific," she says, adding, "Probiotic strains should 'play ball' in the area you need support in," whether that's bloating, regularity, abdominal comfort, or mood support.*
The one probiotic that goes above and beyond
Now that you know what to look for, allow us to introduce you to mindbodygreen's pioneering formula, probiotic+.
It has a unique (and transparent) combination of four targeted strains geared toward gut health and weight management: B. lactis Bi-07, B420, HN019, and L. acidophilus NCFM. These strains are present at doses shown to support gut health and maintain key, daily functions of the digestive system in clinical research.*
Here are the four strains you'll find in each capsule of probiotic+ and a bit on what they each can support:*
- Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 (10 billion CFU): Clinically shown to help ease bloating, promote abdominal comfort, and support healthy immune function.
- Bifidobacterium lactis B420 (10 billion CFU): Clinically shown to support the gut barrier and encourage healthy weight through reductions in caloric intake, abdominal fat mass, and waist circumference.
- Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 (2 billion CFU): Clinically shown to support digestion and regularity while reducing gas. HN019 improves average gut transit time and promotes healthy daily functions of the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract.
- Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM (10 billion CFU): Clinically shown to help with bloating, promote abdominal comfort, and support a healthy frequency of bowel movements.
Choosing the right probiotic can be tricky with so many options and—let's be honest—labels with a bunch of unfamiliar words. In creating probiotic+, we took the guessing game out of the equation, so you can trust that you're getting a targeted probiotic formula with strains that are research-backed for efficacy and improved gut health.*
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.