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What Are the Most Common Types of Probiotics?

Let's explore the world of probiotics, those warriors that reside within us working their magic for our well being. Probiotics are bacteria that are considered the guys in our body's microbial community. These friendly bacteria bear a resemblance to the inhabitants of our gut. You may already be enjoying the company of these microbes if you indulge in fermented treats like yogurt cheeses or even some pickled vegetables.

The idea of improving our health by introducing more of these microorganisms has been circulating since the 1900s. The term "probiotics" is relatively new. Was coined by combining Latin and Greek words meaning "for life."

Research has revealed promising insights into the health advantages offered by probiotics. However there is still debate about all the benefits they can provide to both healthy individuals and those dealing with specific conditions. Nowadays probiotics come in forms and sizes occupying shelves in both grocery stores and supplement shops. As suggested by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health this abundance of probiotics may have outpaced research.

You might be wondering why these probiotics are so beneficial? According to experts, at Harvard Medical School your digestive system is home to a number of microorganisms with over 500 species and a whopping 100 trillion in total. Like a fingerprint this collection of microbes in your gut is unique to you. Sometimes when life throws challenges or stress comes into play it can disrupt this community and lead to digestive issues and other problems.

Probiotics work their magic by reshuffling the population of bacteria in your gut or changing the way these resident microbes carry out their metabolic activities. These beneficial bacteria push aside the ones creating a barrier that prevents troublemakers from multiplying and causing infections or inflammation.

For example an excessive amount of yeast in your system may result in a yeast infection. However with a balanced gut microbiome you can keep yeast levels under control.

Probiotics have the potential to improve digestion by helping your body absorb nutrients efficiently. Additionally these friendly bacteria can act as bodyguards by producing enzymes and proteins that thwart the plans of bacteria. Some of these microbes also give a boost to your immune system.

Certain bacteria are crucial for hormone production and aiding in the absorption of vitamins like vitamin K. Interestingly there may even be a connection between an imbalanced gut microbiome, during childhood and inflammation associated with type 1 diabetesĀ 

This particular topic has been explored in research that was published by the American College of Gastroenterology.

Certain strains of probiotics may have the following benefits:

  • Ā Making digestion easier and smoother.
  • Ā Preventing issues.
  • Ā Acting as an ally against troublesome autoimmune conditions.
  • Ā Providing relief for skin problems.
  • Ā Helping to combat urinary tract infections.

However it's important to note that not all probiotics work the way for everyone. Some knowledgeable medical experts recommend using probiotics alongside antibiotics when you're dealing with an infection. Antibiotics can sometimes eliminate both beneficial bacteria from your body leading to discomfort. Probiotics come into play to restore or maintain a balance in your gut.

Now let's take a look at the types of probiotics.

Studied genera of probiotics

When it comes to probiotics there are two categories that have received extensive research:

Bifidobacteria: This group of bacteria is commonly found in foods and supplements. It is believed to have effects on immune system reinforcement controlling the growth of bacteria in the gut and breaking down lactose into valuable nutrients for your body.

Lactobacillus: These bacteria possess abilities and influence. Not do humans naturally produce lactase, the enzyme that helps digest lactose (milk sugar). They are also adept at producing lactic acid. This acid plays roles such as keeping bacteria in check, providing fuel for muscles and enhancing the body's ability to absorb minerals. These amazing lactobacillus superheroes can be found naturally in parts of the body like the mouth, small intestine and intimate areas.

Now let's introduce you to some of the known celebrities that often appear on food and supplement labels:

  • B. Animalis: This expert in aiding digestion can be found in Dannon yogurts Activia product. Not only does it assist in breaking down your food but it also acts as a defender against harmful bacteria present in food. Moreover it is believed to give a boost to your system.
  • B. Breve: You'll find this species spreading its influence throughout your tract and even intimate regions. It is a warrior that combats infection causing bacteria and yeast effectively. Additionally it aids in absorption through sugar fermentation while making plant fiber easily digestible.
  • B. Lactis: Originating from milk this strain can be found in Nestle's infant formula called Good Start Natural Cultures. But its usefulness doesn't end there: it also acts as a culture for dairy products like buttermilk, cottage cheese and various types of cheese.
  • B. Longum: This particular strain thrives in your tract, where it excels at breaking down carbohydrates and even has properties.
  • L. Acidophilus: This fascinating bacterium resides in the intestine and the enigmatic environment of the vagina. Its primary focus is ensuring digestion. It may even lend a hand in combating vaginal bacterial issues. You can find this superstar probiotic in yogurt. Fermented soy products such as miso.
  • L. Reuteri: This species makes itself comfortable in both the intestines and the mouth. A study even suggested that it could potentially reduce bacteria for tooth decay. It's also a contender when it comes to maintaining health.

So you might be wondering if you should include probiotics in your diet party? The first step is to have a discussion with a healthcare professional to determine if they are suitable for you.

In general probiotics are considered safe unless your immune system is compromised or you're dealing with an illness. It's also prudent to consult with a healthcare professional or pharmacist regarding the dosage.

To start your journey you can incorporate some probiotics into your diet. Keeping track of the probiotics you introduce and observing any changes in your digestion or overall health can be enlightening. Some available food options include yogurt, fermented cheeses like gouda, cheddar, Swiss and Parmesan well as fermented vegetable delights like miso, sauerkraut and pickles.

If you're interested in adding a supplement to your routine there are many choices available on the market. Look for supplements that contain cultures to ensure their viability when consumed. Multi strain probiotics are generally more effective than strains. Pay attention to the colony forming units (CFUs) stated on the label as it indicates how many bacteria can join forces and establish colonies.

It's important to remember that probiotics fall under the category of supplements and are not closely regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Manufacturers are not required to provide evidence of their effectiveness. The FDA does not actively regulate their claims.

However it is worth mentioning that the FDA is currently focused on developing techniques to identify any substances that may be present in probiotics.

Kayla Thomas


Kayla Thomas, a 34-year-old sports and fitness coach living in Connecticut, USA. With seven years of hands-on experience, she's all about helping folks get fit and strong. Kayla's fitness journey began when she was a sports-loving kid, and she followed her passion to college, where she earned a degree in Exercise Science and picked up personal training and sports coaching certifications. But what really lights her up is empowering women through fitness, breaking barriers and making fitness feel welcoming for everyone. Her clients see her as not just a coach but a motivating friend. In her downtime, you'll find her swimming and cycling, always on the move. And you can follow her fitness journey on Instagram ā€“ she's all about sharing that empowerment vibe.