Last Updated on May 2, 2024

I’m sure you heard that probiotics are healthy and that you should be supplementing with them.

But do you know what probiotics are?

Do you know what probiotics do?

Do you know the different types of probiotic strains & their benefits?

Do you know how many probiotics you need?

Do you know what to look for when you buy them so you’re getting live cultures?

I find that most of my clients don’t…

But don’t worry!  I’m going to do a complete deep dive all about probiotics – specifically the different types of probiotic strains and how much you need for health and weight loss benefits.

Here you’ll learn:

 

What are Probiotics?

 

Probiotics are live microorganisms, typically bacteria or yeast, that confer health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. They are typically bacteria, but certain strains of yeast can also be considered probiotics. These beneficial microorganisms can be found naturally in certain foods or can be taken as dietary supplements.

Probiotics work by colonizing the gastrointestinal tract and interacting with the host’s body in various ways. They help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut, which is crucial for proper digestion, nutrient absorption, and overall gut health. They can also have an impact on the immune system, influencing immune response and supporting a healthy immune, metabolism function, and weight.

When consumed in the diet and supplements, probiotics colonize the gut and interact with the existing microbiota, promoting a favorable balance of bacteria and supporting various aspects of the gut and overall health.

 

a flatlay of the GI tract with 3 spoons full of prebiotics and probiotics

 

Different Strains

 

Probiotics consist of various strains of beneficial bacteria that offer unique health benefits, with the most common ones belonging to the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium genera.  AKA Lactobacs and Bifidobacs.  These are the two main umbrellas for other strains.

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus is a commonly studied strain that supports digestion, enhances nutrient absorption, and promotes a healthy immune system.
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus is known for its potential in promoting healthy digestion and supporting immune function.
  • Bifidobacterium lactis contributes to gut health by improving bowel regularity and reducing symptoms of lactose intolerance.
  • Another well-known strain, Saccharomyces boulardii, is a beneficial yeast that can help restore the natural balance of gut flora and aid in the prevention of diarrhea.
  • Streptococcus thermophilus supports lactose digestion and contributes to the breakdown of casein in milk.
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum are commonly paired probiotic strains used to promote gut health and support digestion.

These are just a few examples of the many probiotic strains available, each with its own unique properties and potential health benefits.

The number of known probiotic strains is continually expanding as research progresses.  As of research dated September 2021, there are hundreds of identified probiotic strains, and new science about strains and their unique benefits is still emerging.

 

a chart comparing the different probiotic strains and their benefits

 

Some of the commonly studied and utilized probiotic strains include:

  1. Lactobacillus acidophilus
  2. Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  3. Lactobacillus casei
  4. Lactobacillus plantarum
  5. Lactobacillus reuteri
  6. Bifidobacterium lactis
  7. Bifidobacterium longum
  8. Streptococcus thermophilus
  9. Saccharomyces boulardii (a beneficial yeast)

Different probiotic strains may have distinct characteristics, health benefits, and dosage recommendations.

Each strain may have specific interactions with the gut microbiota and may provide unique effects on digestive health, immune function, and other aspects of well-being.

The choice of probiotic strains depends on individual needs and health concerns.

BUT it’s best to get a diverse range of as many different probiotic strains as you can… especially if you’re in need of probiotic health benefits or experiencing symptoms of probiotic deficiency.

You can be taking probiotics and still be deficient… so keep reading to make sure you get enough.

 

a flatlay of 12 different high probiotic foods

 

HEALTH BENEFITS

 

Probiotics have been proven to provide several potential benefits, including:

  • Improved Digestive Health: Probiotics can help alleviate digestive issues such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Enhanced Immune Function: They can support a healthy immune system and reduce the risk of certain infections by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria and inhibiting the growth of harmful pathogens.
  • Maintenance of Gut Microbiota Balance: Probiotics contribute to the diversity and stability of the gut microbiota, which is essential for overall health and well-being.
  • Potential Mental Health Benefits: Emerging research suggests a link between gut health and mental health, with probiotics showing promise in improving mood and reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Alleviation of Lactose Intolerance: Certain probiotic strains can aid in the digestion of lactose, the sugar found in milk and dairy products, helping individuals with lactose intolerance.
  • Support for Overall Well-being: Probiotics may have positive effects on skin health, vaginal health, and oral health, among other potential benefits.

a chart of different physical and mental symptoms that you need more probiotics

 

SIGNS YOU’RE NOT GETTING ENOUGH (PROBIOTICS AND PREBIOTICS)

 

While the need for probiotics and prebiotics can vary among individuals, there are some physical symptoms that may indicate a potential benefit from consuming more probiotics.

Here are some potential symptoms that you’d benefit from adding more probiotics to your diet:

  • Digestive Discomfort: Symptoms like bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, or general digestive discomfort can indicate an imbalance in the gut microbiota. Increasing probiotic and prebiotic intake may help restore microbial balance and promote better digestive function.
  • Weakened Immune System: Frequent or recurring infections, such as colds, respiratory infections, or urinary tract infections, may suggest a compromised immune system. Since the gut microbiota plays a crucial role in immune function, improving its health with probiotics and prebiotics could potentially strengthen immune responses.
  • Antibiotic Use: Taking antibiotics can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria by killing both harmful and beneficial microbes. This can lead to digestive disturbances or an increased risk of infections. Probiotics and prebiotics may help restore the gut microbiota after antibiotic treatment.
  • Skin Issues: Skin conditions like acne, eczema, or rosacea may be linked to gut health. The gut-skin axis suggests that imbalances in the gut microbiota can contribute to skin inflammation. Probiotics and prebiotics may help improve gut health, potentially benefiting skin conditions.
  • Food Intolerances: Intolerances to certain foods, such as lactose intolerance or gluten sensitivity, may indicate an impaired gut microbiota. Probiotics and prebiotics may support the digestion and breakdown of these compounds, potentially reducing intolerance symptoms.
  • Mental Health Issues: Emerging research suggests a connection between the gut and the brain, known as the gut-brain axis. Symptoms like anxiety, depression, or mood swings may be influenced by the gut microbiota. Probiotics and prebiotics may help optimize gut health and potentially improve mental well-being.
  • Stubborn Fat & Cravings – Certain strains of probiotics can increase appetite or influence gut hormone production, potentially leading to increased calorie intake. Additionally, probiotics can improve digestion and nutrient absorption, which may result in better utilization of calories from food.  Look here for more info about Probiotics & Weight Loss.

 

HOW MANY PROBIOTICS DO YOU NEED?

 

The recommended amount of probiotics can vary depending on factors such as the specific strain(s) being consumed, the purpose of supplementation, and individual needs. Unfortunately, there is no specific daily requirement or established universal dosage for probiotics… but I’ll give you some guidelines to follow below.

When it comes to probiotic foods, consuming a variety of fermented foods as part of a balanced diet can help provide a diverse range of probiotic strains. Aim to incorporate probiotic-rich foods into your daily routine.

Here’s a chart summarizing different probiotics, their benefits, and the minimum recommended daily dosages for adults to stay healthy:

 

Probiotic Strain Benefits Recommended Dosage
Lactobacillus acidophilus Improves digestion, boosts immunity 1-2 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) daily
Bifidobacterium bifidum Enhances gut health, reduces bloating 1-2 billion CFUs daily
Lactobacillus rhamnosus Supports weight management, immune function 1-10 billion CFUs daily
Bifidobacterium longum Reduces inflammation, improves mood 1-10 billion CFUs daily
Lactobacillus plantarum Enhances nutrient absorption, supports gut barrier 1-10 billion CFUs daily
Bifidobacterium breve Supports healthy gut flora, aids digestion 1-10 billion CFUs daily
Lactobacillus casei Regulates bowel movements, boosts immunity 1-10 billion CFUs daily
Streptococcus thermophilus Improves lactose digestion, supports immune system 1-10 billion CFUs daily

 

These amounts are the starting point for staying healthy and preventing health issues.

If you haven’t been getting these daily amounts over a period of time you’ll create a deficiency and environment for imbalance and pathogens to thrive.  So you’ll need more that the recommendations above.

There are many other factors that effect the amount of probiotics you need in your diet.

These factors include:

  • Digestive Issues: If you experience frequent digestive problems such as bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), probiotics may help restore a healthier balance of gut bacteria and improve digestion.
  • Antibiotic Use: Taking antibiotics can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the gut, potentially leading to digestive issues or an increased risk of infections. Probiotics can help replenish beneficial bacteria during and after antibiotic treatment.
  • Weakened Immune System: If you have a weakened immune system, probiotics might help support your immune function by promoting a healthy balance of gut bacteria, which plays a significant role in immune response.
  • Traveler’s Diarrhea: When traveling to regions with different food and water sources, you may be at an increased risk of traveler’s diarrhea. Probiotics, especially strains like Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces, may help prevent or reduce the severity of traveler’s diarrhea.
  • Allergies or Eczema: Emerging research suggests that certain probiotic strains may have a role in reducing the risk of developing allergies or eczema, particularly in infants and children with a family history of these conditions.
  • Intestinal Infections: Probiotics can be beneficial in supporting the recovery from certain intestinal infections, such as Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infection.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): Some individuals with conditions like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, which fall under the category of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), may experience benefits from probiotic supplementation. However, the specific strains and dosages should be determined in consultation with a healthcare professional.
  • Mental Health Issues:  Anxiety and depression are common mood disorders have been shown to improve with adequate probiotic intake.
  • A Bad Diet:  If you’ve had a habit of consuming a poor diet or haven’t been getting your daily recommended amount of probiotics and prebiotics, then you’ve created an environment for imbalances and pathogens.

Anyone with these habits or symptoms will need more probiotics (CFUs and strains).

If these issues are present the recommended daily probiotic intake could easily jump up to 20-100 billion+ CFU’s.

It is possible to take too many probiotics, though a harmful overdose isn’t likely.  You won’t overdose but common side effects of taking too many probiotics can include bloating, gas, and nausea.  This is normal as the gut recalibrates and fibers & toxins in the gut mix and ferment.

A professional diet plan and supplementation regime can help you maximize benefits and avoid nasty, unnecessary side effects.

 

a chart comparing different probiotic strains, their benefits, recommended dosage, and food sources

 

Consuming Probiotics

 

There are two ways to get more probiotics into your body.

The first is to eat high-probiotic foods and to use probiotic supplements… you need both to get the different strands you need for health and weight loss benefits.

Let’s start with the food.

 

HIGH PROBIOTIC FOODS

 

Here’s a list of foods easy to find foods that are highest in probiotics:

  1. Yogurt: A popular fermented dairy product that contains live bacteria cultures, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.  Unsweeted coconut yogurt is my favorite recommendation.  I DO NOT recommend any dairy if pathogens are present… and they are if you’re experiencing symptoms.
  2. Kefir: A fermented milk drink that is rich in beneficial bacteria and yeasts, offering a diverse range of probiotics.
  3. Sauerkraut: Fermented cabbage that provides a good source of probiotics, including Lactobacillus bacteria.
  4. Kimchi: A traditional Korean side dish made from fermented vegetables, such as cabbage and radishes, which is packed with probiotic strains.
  5. Miso: A traditional Japanese seasoning made from fermented soybeans, barley, or rice, which contains beneficial probiotics like Bacillus subtilis.
  6. Tempeh: A fermented soybean product that is high in probiotics, including strains like Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus.
  7. Kombucha: A fizzy, fermented tea beverage that contains live cultures of bacteria and yeast, offering a range of probiotics.

Please note, the CFU counts in fermented foods can vary depending on factors such as the specific brand, fermentation time, fermentation process, and storage conditions.

Also, different brands and homemade versions may have varying CFU levels. … so it’s impossible to provide a CFU/serving amount. 

Several factors can influence the probiotic count and strains present in food.

 

different fermented vegetables in fermentation jars

 

These factors include:

  1. Fermentation process: The duration and conditions of the fermentation process can affect the growth and survival of probiotic bacteria. Longer fermentation times generally result in higher probiotic counts.
  2. Strain selection: Different probiotic strains have varying abilities to survive and multiply during fermentation. Some strains are more resilient and can withstand harsh conditions, resulting in higher counts in the final product.
  3. Storage conditions: Probiotic counts can decline over time, especially if the product is not stored properly. Factors such as temperature, exposure to light, and oxygen levels can impact the viability of probiotics.
  4. Processing methods: Certain processing techniques, such as high heat or pasteurization, can reduce the probiotic count in foods. Heat-sensitive probiotics may be more vulnerable to degradation during processing.
  5. Shelf life: The length of time a product is stored before consumption can affect probiotic counts. Probiotic foods with longer shelf lives may have lower initial counts due to the natural decline of viable bacteria over time.
  6. Packaging: The type of packaging used for probiotic foods can influence their shelf life and probiotic counts. Oxygen-permeable packaging may allow for better survival of probiotics, while excessive exposure to oxygen can be detrimental.
  7. Quality control: The manufacturing process and quality control measures employed by the producers can impact the final probiotic counts. Adhering to proper hygiene, monitoring fermentation conditions, and conducting regular testing are important to ensure optimal probiotic levels.

So just because something says it has probiotics doesn’t mean that they’re live cultures. 

You need LIVE CULTURES of probiotics to get benefits.

So that being said, it’s hard to gauge the amount of probiotics that you’ll actually get from foods.

But I do recommend getting at least one serving of a probiotic food into each meal.

 

Probiotic Strain Benefits Recommended Dosage Food Sources
Lactobacillus acidophilus Improves digestion, boosts immunity 1-2 billion CFUs daily Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut
Bifidobacterium bifidum Enhances gut health, reduces bloating 1-2 billion CFUs daily Yogurt, kefir, fermented vegetables
Lactobacillus rhamnosus Supports weight management, immune function 1-10 billion CFUs daily Yogurt, kefir, fermented milk products
Bifidobacterium longum Reduces inflammation, improves mood 1-10 billion CFUs daily Yogurt, kefir, fermented foods
Lactobacillus plantarum Enhances nutrient absorption, supports gut barrier 1-10 billion CFUs daily Sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles
Bifidobacterium breve Supports healthy gut flora, aids digestion 1-10 billion CFUs daily Yogurt, kefir, fermented foods
Lactobacillus casei Regulates bowel movements, boosts immunity 1-10 billion CFUs daily Yogurt, fermented milk products
Streptococcus thermophilus Improves lactose digestion, supports immune system 1-10 billion CFUs daily Yogurt, fermented milk products

 

Look for high-quality, unpasteurized, and traditionally fermented versions of these foods to maximize probiotic content.

Remember, probiotic counts can vary between foods, brands, and batches, so choose reputable brands that prioritize quality and conduct regular testing to ensure the potency of their products.

 

a chart of food highest in probiotics and prebiotics

 

HOW TO GET THE MOST PROBIOTICS FROM FOOD

 

Use the following steps to get enough probiotics in your diet:

  1. Incorporate probiotic-rich foods: Get a variety of fermented foods in your die and have at least one serving of a probiotic food at every meal.  Rotate between different probiotics and have at least one serving with every meal.  Your options include: yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh, kombucha, and pickles. Choose high-quality, traditionally fermented options for maximum probiotic content.
  2. Consume probiotics with prebiotic foods: Prebiotics are a type of dietary fiber that serves as food for the beneficial bacteria in the gut. They are not living organisms themselves but rather indigestible components found in certain foods. Prebiotic fibers are selectively fermented by the gut bacteria in the colon. This fermentation process stimulates the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria, promoting a healthier gut microbiota.  To colonize probiotics you have to get probiotic-friendly fibers into your colon… you also have to make sure your probiotic supplements survive the stomach and release in the intestines where the prebiotic fibers are… so when you have probiotic foods, have prebiotic foods with them.  So you also need 1 serving of a prebiotic food at every meal.
  3. Read labels: When purchasing fermented foods or probiotic supplements, read the labels carefully. Look for products that mention live and active cultures or specify the presence of specific probiotic strains.
  4. Rotate sources: Different fermented foods contain various strains of probiotics. By rotating your sources, you can expose yourself to a wider range of beneficial bacteria.  You can also rotate your probiotics, too.
  5. Consider probiotic supplements: If it’s challenging to get enough probiotics through diet alone, you may consider taking a high-quality probiotic supplement.  See the shelf-stable Probiotic Supplements I recommend.
  6. Preserve probiotics during cooking: Heat can kill probiotic bacteria, so if you’re using probiotic-rich ingredients in cooked dishes, add them after the cooking process to preserve the live cultures. For example, add yogurt or kimchi as a topping to a warm dish instead of cooking it.
  7. Be mindful of storage and expiration dates: Properly store fermented foods according to the instructions provided. Pay attention to expiration dates and consume products before they expire to maximize the probiotic content.
  8. Prioritize overall gut health: In addition to consuming probiotics, it’s essential to support a healthy gut environment. Eat a balanced diet rich in fiber, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Limit processed foods, added sugars, artificial additives, and stress. Stay hydrated and manage stress levels, as these factors can impact the gut microbiota.  You can eat and supplement perfectly, but if you’re stressed you can imbalance your gut microbiome.

 

sourdough bread

 

Is Sourdough Bread high in Probiotics?

 

Sourdough bread, when made through a traditional fermentation process, can contain some beneficial bacteria and yeasts that can have probiotic properties.

However, the probiotic content in sourdough can vary based on several factors, including the specific starter culture used, fermentation time, and conditions.

During the sourdough fermentation process, lactic acid bacteria (such as Lactobacillus species) and wild yeast naturally present in the environment or starter culture help break down sugars and produce lactic acid and other compounds. These beneficial microorganisms can contribute to the unique flavor, texture, and potential probiotic content of sourdough bread.

However, it’s important to note that the probiotic counts in sourdough bread are generally lower compared to fermented foods specifically made for their probiotic content, such as yogurt or kefir.

The baking process, including high temperatures, can reduce the viability and numbers of live bacteria in the final product.

While sourdough bread can provide some microbial diversity and potential health benefits, it’s not a reliable or potent source of probiotics compared to other intentionally fermented foods.  It’s also high in yeast… and if your microbiome is already imbalanced with pathogenic yeast, then it’s best to avoid all wheat, yeast, and sugar sources, including sourdough bread and kombucha.

Instead, it’s way better to add other probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, or other fermented products into your diet, along with probiotic supplements that are specifically formulated for higher probiotic counts… and remember to add prebiotics to them, too.

 

probiotics and coconut yogurt

 

BEST PROBIOTIC SUPPLEMENTS

 

Because the probiotic counts in foods are hard to gauge, it’s important to get quality probiotics.

There are a bajillion different probiotics available on the market, and the best one for you may depend on your specific needs, health conditions, and preferences.

Supplements aren’t widely regulated so it’s very common for consumers to waste money on sub-par probiotics.

For example, your supplement bottles may say 50 billion CFUs but probiotics can die quickly when exposed to heat.  So all probiotics delivered without refrigeration will die… especially when they’re on a truck that’s stuck in traffic in 100+ degree heat during the Summer!

Probiotic supplements can be manufactured to be shelf stable…  So the organisms will survive without refrigeration.  If your probiotics weren’t manufactured to be shelf stable there’s a good chance they’re dead.

So let’s make sure you know what kind of probiotic supplements to look for…

 

High-Quality Probiotic Supplements Have:

 

  • Strain Diversity: Look for a supplement that contains a variety of different probiotic strains, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species. Each strain may have unique benefits, and a diverse range of strains can help support a healthy gut microbiota.
  • CFU Count: CFU (colony-forming units) indicates the number of viable bacteria in each serving. While there is no specific recommended CFU count, higher numbers (typically in the billions) may be beneficial for certain conditions. However, keep in mind that more CFUs do not always mean better results, and some strains are effective in lower quantities.
  • Shelf Stability: Look for probiotic supplements that are shelf-stable and can survive at room temperature. This ensures that the bacteria remain viable and potent throughout the shelf life of the product. However, certain strains may require refrigeration for optimal stability.
  • Quality and Manufacturing Standards: Choose a reputable brand that adheres to strict quality control and manufacturing standards. Look for supplements that are third-party tested for purity, potency, and quality assurance.
  • Packaging and Delivery System: Some supplements use enteric coatings or microencapsulation to protect the probiotic bacteria from stomach acid, ensuring they reach the intestines alive. Others may use delayed-release capsules or other innovative delivery systems to enhance probiotic viability.
  • Allergen Considerations: If you have specific dietary restrictions or allergies, check the supplement’s label for potential allergens like gluten, dairy, soy, or other common allergens.
  • Scientific Evidence and Recommendations: Consider looking for supplements that have been studied in clinical trials and have demonstrated effectiveness for specific health conditions. Additionally, consult with a healthcare professional who can provide personalized advice based on your specific health needs.

 

QUALITY PROBIOTIC TEST

 

You can easily tell if your probiotic is quality and has live cultures by trying to make yogurt with it.

Break your probiotic capsules into a can of organic coconut in a glass jar.  Stir then cover with cheesecloth and wait.  If it turns into yogurt your probiotics are alive.  If not, they’re dead.

 

TIPS TO GET RESULTS

 

To get the best results I recommend incorporating high-probiotic foods and supplements into your daily diet.

Please note, it’s impossible to colonize probiotics without the right environment so follow a diet that helps you avoid foods that cause microbiome imbalances and gut issues in the first place.  There’s a specific way to eat & supplement to allow the gut to heal.

You also have to eat in a way to prevent other things that contribute to gut issues like inflammation, hormone imbalances, an overburned liver, and stress.  This is crucial to ensure proper probiotic colonization, microbiome balancing, and nutrient absorption need to get results.

My Total Transformation Program can help reverse all of these issues & burns fat in 4 weeks flat.  You can lose up to 15 pounds in 4 weeks as you heal your gut, reverse inflammation, balance hormones, and get toxins and fat out of your body rapidly with this powerful program.

When you combine the right diet + healing protocols & supplements you’ll get results you can see and feel a LOT faster.

If you really want to clean up your diet, heal your gut, reverse inflammation, balance hormones, and get rid of fatigue and cravings – AND lose weight – you need my Total Transformation Program.

 

4 week before and afters using my Total Transformation Program

 

Remember, if you have gut health symptoms you most likely also have metabolic dysfunction.  This free training explains more about metabolic dysfunction & how I fix it so you can lose weight & feel great ASAP.

When consumed in adequate amounts with the right pre and probiotic foods, supplements, and lifestyle.

I hope this guide to probiotics officially answered the question, “What are probiotics?”

Share this post if you think it’ll help someone else.

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Your Coach & Biggest Cheerleader,


 

 

a flay lay of all probiotic foods and text that says "What are Probiotics?"

 

MORE GUT HEALTH & WEIGHT LOSS INFO

 

Check out these related articles to fill in more of the “gut health puzzle” so you’ll understand more about the different aspects of gut health, how they cause symptoms & weight gain, and how to optimize your gut health to maximize your weight loss potential:

Remember, if you have gut health symptoms you most likely also have metabolic dysfunction.  This free training explains more about metabolic dysfunction & how I fix it so you can lose weight & feel great ASAP.

 

 

 

DISCOVER YOUR METABOLIC TYPE & HOW TO EAT TO BURN FAT 3 TIMES FASTERTAKE THE QUIZ