DO YOU HAVE ACNE, CARB AND SWEETS CRAVINGS, TROUBLE SLEEPING, FATIGUE, DIFFICULTY LOSING WEIGHT, OR DIGESTIVE ISSUES? IF YOU ANSWERED YES TO ANY OF THOSE QUESTIONS, YOUR MICROBIOME MAY BE TO BLAME. OTHER DISORDERS IMPACTED BY THE MICROBIOME ARE ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION, YEAST INFECTIONS, IBS AND IBD, SIBO, AND MORE. THERE ARE FEW HEALTH ISSUES OUT THERE THAT AREN'T AFFECTED BY THE MICROBIOME.
SO, WHAT IS IT? THE TERM “MICROBIOME” REFERS TO THE APPROXIMATELY 100 TRILLION ORGANISMS THAT LIVE WITHIN (AND ON!) YOUR BODY INCLUDING BACTERIA, YEAST, FUNGI, VIRUSES, PARASITES AND HELMINTHS (WORMS). THE MAJORITY OF THEM ARE CONCENTRATED IN THE GUT, WHICH IS WHERE WE’LL FOCUS TODAY.
WE'VE ALL HEARD THAT TO HAVE A HEALTHY MICROBIOME PROBIOTICS ARE ESSENTIAL, BUT THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT KINDS. HOW DO WE KNOW WHICH ONES WORK AND WHICH ARE A WASTE OF MONEY? AND EVEN WITHIN THOSE THAT "WORK", WHICH ONES WORK FOR US AND OUR UNIQUE MICROBIOME NEEDS?
LET'S DIVE IN TODAY AND ANSWER THE HOT TOPIC WHEN IT COMES TO PROBIOTICS: WHAT PROBIOTIC SHOULD I TAKE?
The first factor to consider when choosing a probiotic is the issue of quality because as you might imagine, dead bugs don’t do you a ton of good. Interestingly enough, they DO still trigger beneficial chemical pathways in your gut even when dead, but they are not doing nearly the same job as if they were alive.
When probiotics are alive they control an extraordinary amount of processes in your body. They are immune modulators, they produce important vitamins (one of the most studied is their production of B vitamins), they regulate neurotransmitters (especially serotonin), they enhance the barrier function of your intestines (which helps prevent intestinal permeability aka leaky gut) by affecting the intestinal epithelial cells, and so much more. A recent study showed several strains of probiotics to be as effective as Xanax in controlling anxiety.
As you can see, they are IMPORTANT, and we want to make sure we have enough of them in our bodies to allow them to do their jobs properly.
Because you get the most benefit when they are alive, it’s imperative to evaluate the company’s claims of longevity and stability, let's explore some of the best studied brands:
Long story short, this used to be VSL#3, but now the famous formula along with all related clinical trials showing efficacy for IBS and IBD belongs to Visbiome.
You can get the regular strength over the counter directly from the company, but the extra strength needs a prescription.
This brand is pretty pricey, but it has clinical trials showing its efficacy with IBS and IBD to back it up. I’ll put a link below to the company if you want to try Visbiome.
To try Visbiome for yourself, go HERE.
Another brand I trust and use quite regularly in my practice is MegaSpore. They are also backed by an impressive body of research and provide a different type of probiotic than you usually see in stores.
MegaSpore is a spore-based probiotic which tends to be much heartier and survives better in the gut. This probiotic will not need to be refrigerated because it is a dormant spore-based probiotic. When it hits the acidic environment of the stomach the spores come out of their dormant state and are ready to work.
One study using MegaSporeBiotic™ looked at the probiotic’s ability to impact elevated serum triglycerides. Researchers recruited 80 participants with non-fasting triglyceride levels greater than 150 mg/dL to complete the study.
The average baseline triglyceride levels were 207 mg/dL. Participants were randomly divided into two groups. The treatment group received two capsules of MegaSporeBiotic™ once daily in the morning. The control group received a placebo pill containing rice flour. Triglyceride levels were measured at baseline, 6 weeks, and 12 weeks of the experiment.
Results indicated that non-fasting triglyceride levels dropped by 25% in just 6 weeks and a whopping 38% after 12 weeks of probiotic supplementation.
Another study used rats (whose livers are actually a lot like ours, by the way) to look at liver protection against acetaminophen damage. For 12 days, treatment groups received oral supplementation of MegaSporeBiotic™ or silymarin, an extract of milk thistle well studied and known for liver support. On the 11th day, all groups received one high dose of acetaminophen to induce liver damage. At the end of the experiment, liver tissue and blood samples were collected and tested for liver status.
Common liver enzymes like AST and ALT were measured, as elevated levels of these liver enzymes can indicate liver toxicity and tissue damage. (Sidenote: I see these elevated in a lot of my clients that are overweight. The same eating habits that lead to weight gain also often lead to NAFLD – non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and lead to a damaged liver that gives off elevated liver enzymes).
Results indicated that supplementation with MegaSporeBiotic™ significantly reduced AST and ALT and protected the liver from damage as effectively as silymarin from milk thistle.
Additionally, supplementing with MegaSporeBiotic™ was shown to increase the total antioxidant capacity which enhanced the liver’s ability to fight free radical damage.
Other studies have shown that MegaSporeBiotic™ has been able to reduce endotoxic responses to meals which balances inflammatory responses and improves the gut barrier. This prevented the influx of inflammatory endotoxins into the bloodstream.
These studies reveal that the supplementation of MegaSporeBiotic™ reduces liver enzymes (AST, ALT), pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-1β), zonulin (a marker of leaky gut), and liver damage.
Yet another MegaSpore study looked at IBS, also known as irritable bowel syndrome. This can be a debilitating condition for some people so I was really excited to see this study. It was a prospective, randomized clinical trial at a medical center in Romania and included 90 patients with IBS. Subjects were separated into three groups of 30 and given one of three treatments for 34 days.
The first group received 10 days of antibiotic treatment with Rifaximin (which is actually my preferred treatment for SIBO, by the way, because it stays in the small intestines and doesn't destroy the entire gut microbiome like other antibiotics do. The researcher's usage of Rifaximin makes sense as a control because recent studies show many people with a diagnosis of IBS actually have SIBO as their underlying cause). This antibiotic treatment was followed by 24 days of a nutraceutical containing Bifidobacterium longum, prebiotics, and vitamins.
The second group received MegaSporeBiotic™ for 34 days, and the third group received 10 days of antibiotic treatment with Rifaximin, followed by 24 days of a low-FODMAP (fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols) diet.
IBS severity scores, quality of life, and rectal volume sensation were measured at days 1, 10, 34, and 60.
IBS severity scores examined the severity of abdominal pain and the number of days with pain or distention, as well as the impact of each on quality of life. Quality of life evaluated functional status (physical and social functioning and physical and emotional problems), well-being (mental health, vitality, and pain), and general health assessment (general perception of health).
The results showed that treatment with MegaSporeBiotic™ reduced the IBS severity score more effectively than Rifaximin with the nutraceutical and also Rifaximin with the low-FODMAP diet. The Megaspore group also reported a significantly higher quality of life compared with Rifaximin plus the nutraceutical or a low-FODMAP diet.
Pretty exciting news for anyone with IBS, in my opinion.
Renew Life, to my knowledge, doesn’t have any clinical trials to back up its claims, but I have personally seen many of my own clients use their women’s line with great success in keeping yeast infections at bay.
If you have serious gut issues like IBS and IBD, chronic diarrhea, multiple rounds of antibiotics, things like that - then Visbiome may be your best bet. The link to go straight to their website is in the description below.
If you have high triglycerides, IBS, SIBO, elevated liver enzymes, or acetaminophen usage, then Megaspore may be your best bet. The link to purchase them from my online dispensary and support these videos is in the description below as well.
If you have issues with yeast infections, Renew Life is your best bet.
Ok so maybe you don’t fall into any of those categories, don’t worry I have more recommendations for various potential issues.
Specific Probiotic Strains for Specific Symptoms
If you really want to get specific in targeting your gut strains, you can take a stool test to see exactly what bugs you have and which ones you’re lacking. I use the GI Map in my practice. You can see a sample report here: Sample GI Map Report. Once your results are in hand, you can supplement based on what is lacking in your gut specifically. If you're interested in working with me to get your health back on track using a GI Map, you can find more information on my website under “Work with Me": "One on One Coaching". You can fill out an application to work with me here: HEAL FROM WITHIN.
In a study entitled “Probiotics for prevention and treatment of respiratory tract infections in children”, the research discussed the importance of S boulardii, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, and Lactobacillus reuteri. So those are a few strains you can search for if your child has frequent respiratory tract infections. You can find any of these strains on my Wellevate dispensary HERE.
One really specific strain I recommend for clients with diarrhea and or canddida is Saccaromyces boulardii. S. Boulardi is not a bacterium but a beneficial yeast proven effective against candida (a “bad” yeast). In clinical trials, it has also been proven effective against serious and sometimes fatal cases of chronic diarrhea from ulcerative colitis and c. difficile.
A few probiotics that may improve constipation include B. longum, S. cerevisiae and a combination of L. acidophilus, L. reuteri, L. plantarum, L. rhamnosus, and B. animalis.
According to a 2014 analysis of several studies, probiotics that seem to be effective for fat loss include Lactobacillus gasseri, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and the combination of Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium lactis.
In one study, obese men who took L. gasseri for 12 weeks experienced significant reductions in body weight and body fat, including up to an 8.5% decrease in belly fat. By contrast, the placebo group experienced very little change in body weight or body fat.
In another study, obese women who took L. rhamnosus for three weeks lost twice as much weight as those who received a placebo.
In an eight-week study of patients with major depression, those who took L. acidophilus, L. casei, and B. bifidum had a significant decrease in depression.
You can search for these specific strains on my Wellevate dispensary linked HERE. And because I want to give more people the opportunity to heal, I offer 10% off EVERYTHING in my dispensary to EVERYONE, EVERY DAY. No coupon code, no catch.
Something else you need to know when choosing probiotics is certain strains produce histamine. If you have high blood histamine levels it would be wise to avoid histamine-producing strains of bacteria in your probiotic. Signs and symptoms of high histamine are itchy watery eyes, runny nose, rash, frequent migraine, and an excessive reaction to bug bites. If this is you, you want to avoid Lactobaccillus strains and stick to bifidio strains because bifidio strains do not release excess histamine, where lacto strains do.
If you liked this article make sure you subscribe to my newsletter. I send out emails every week packed with crucial health information just like this. Sign up here!
Catinean, A., Neag, A. M., Nita, A., Buzea, M., & Buzoianu, A. D. (2019). Bacillus spp.Spores-A Promising Treatment Option for Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Nutrients, 11(9), 1968. https://doi-org.bigbrother.logan.edu:2443/10.3390/nu11091968
Campbell AW, Sinatra D, Zhang Z, et al. Efficacy of Spore Forming Bacilli Supplementation in Patients with Mild to Moderate Elevation of Triglycerides: A 12 week, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo Controlled Trial. Integrative Medicine. 2020;19(2):18-23
Neag, M. A., Catinean, A., Muntean, D. M., Pop, M. R., Bocsan, C. I., Botan, E. C., & Buzoianu, A. D. (2020). Probiotic Bacillus Spores Protect Against Acetaminophen Induced Acute Liver Injury in Rats. Nutrients, 12(3), 632. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12030632
** As always, this is not medical advice. This is for educational and informational purposes only. Please consult with your doctor before undergoing any changes to your diet, supplement, or lifestyle routines.