Why More Strains Aren't Always Better When It Comes To Probiotics
Probiotic strains can be confusing (trust us, there are a lot out there). If you're unsure which probiotic is best, it may seem easiest to load up on a high-dose, multi-strain probiotic, just to check all the boxes—but is more always better? According to renowned integrative physician Robert Rountree, M.D., the answer is a resounding no.
Why more strains aren't always better.
Adding a probiotic supplement to your routine is a good first step toward a healthy gut.* And while it may be convenient to get the highest number of colony-forming units (CFUs), that's not always the best plan of action.
"I call that the sledgehammer approach," Rountree previously told mbg. "More doesn't necessarily equal better. They have to be targeted. Every bacterium does different things."
While it is possible to notice results with this approach, they might not be the results you were hoping for. And, depending on the source, might even be dangerous.
"Many commercial brands lack the technology to identify specific strains and how much of that strain each dose contains," integrative doctor Vincent M. Pedre, M.D., previously told mbg. "That could mean you get an ineffective or potentially harmful dose."
That's why, when mbg developed probiotic+, we were careful to choose four targeted strains aimed at beating bloat and supporting gut health—Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07, Bifidobacterium lactis B420, Bifidobacterium lactis HN019, and Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM.*
So, which probiotic strains should I look for?
There are plenty of strains with plenty of different purposes, but here are just a few of the most common reasons people seek out a probiotic, and the best strain for the job:
- For immune support: If you're hyper-focused on enhancing your immunity during the pandemic and the onset of cold and flu season, Lactobacillus acidophilus (L. acidophilus NCFM) and Bifidobacterium lactis (Bifidus, specifically HN019) both have proven immune-supporting benefits.*
- For abdominal bloating: If the probiotic is intended to manage discomfort in the gut, like bloating, Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07, Bifidobacterium lactis HN019, and Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM have all been shown to manage bloat and constipation2.*
- For flatulence: Excess gas can happen to anyone but may be especially problematic for people with irritable bowel syndrome. One study found Lactobacillus plantarum DSM 9843 can ease those gassy IBS symptoms3.*
- For stress: Yes, probiotics play a role in mental health and mood. For anyone feeling stressed, studies say Lactobacillus rhamnosus JB-1 helps naturally reduce those feelings by positively affecting GABA.*
Overall, getting diverse sources of gut-friendly pre- and probiotics is helpful, but choosing strains based on specific needs is the best way to ensure efficacy. With a little bit of research and some help from a doctor or gastroenterologist, it's possible to narrow down which strain will be best.
Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine. She has covered topics ranging from regenerative agriculture to celebrity entrepreneurship. Moore worked on the copywriting and marketing team at Siete Family Foods before moving to New York.