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Your Guide to Probiotics

Updated: Jan 21, 2022

The gut has between 300 and 1000 different bacteria species and trillions of different bacteria strains making up the microbiome. More and more studies are proving that the health of our gut plays a huge role in our overall wellbeing – body and mind. Therefore, the more varied the mix of good bacteria in the gut, the healthier and happier you will be.

This gut microbiome helps us to maintain a healthy balance throughout the entire body. Did you know that 70-80% of our immune system is within the gut? This healthy gut bacteria also supports:

  • Digestion of food

  • Production and absorption of nutrients

  • Hormone metabolism and production or detoxifying enzymes

  • Neutralization of pathogens

  • And neurotransmitter production (such as serotonin, GABA and dopamine)

We live in synergy with the bacterial colonies that inhabit our intestines. Imbalances in this gut flora, whether it’s an absence of beneficial bacteria or an overgrowth of ‘bad bacteria’, can bring about a wide variety of health complications.

There are many factors that can alter the quantity and quality of the microflora in your gut (and the health of your gut in general) such as:

  • Medications/drug use (antibiotics & PPIs)

  • Nutrient depleted diets high in sugar and processed foods

  • Chronic stress/anxiety

  • Inadequate sleep

  • Babies born by C-Section or are unable to breast feed

  • Inflammation due to pathogenic bacteria (‘bad bugs’)

  • Alcohol consumption

  • Lack of exercise

This gut microbiome helps us to maintain a healthy balance throughout the entire body. Many complications due to a lack of ‘good bacteria’ are digestive in nature, but microbial imbalances can influence various aspects of our health. Did you know we can experience symptoms of an imbalance in the gut both physically and mentally? The gut is called the second brain as the brain and the GI system are connected via the vagus nerve. The gut sends far more information to the brain than the brain sends to the gut.

Symptoms Due to a Lack of Beneficial Bacteria in the Gut:

  • Digestive (bloating, diarrhea, constipation, gas, cramping, etc.)

  • Absorption issues

  • Inflammation

  • Food sensitivities

  • Increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut)

  • Skin issues or rashes including eczema, acne, and psoriasis

  • Blood sugar irregularities or Diabetes

  • Mental, emotional and behavioral imbalances

  • Sugar cravings, excessive appetite, or loss of appetite

  • Weight gain or weight loss resistance

  • Muscle aches/pains or Fibromyalgia

  • Chronic Fatigue

  • Autoimmune diseases

  • Poor immune system

Probiotics are ‘good’ bugs, which we can constantly replenish through our diet:


Fermented meats

Fermented vegetables






Pickles and pickled vegetables



Yogurt (plain, no added sugar, active cultures)



Cheese (aged)

Cottage cheese


Sour cream

Yogurt (plain, no added sugar, active cultures)

These probiotics also need nourishing food to help them grow. Prebiotics are the fiber-rich foods that probiotics feed and grow on. Some examples of prebiotics include:







Dandelion greens






Jerusalem artichoke (sunchoke)







In addition, a compound called butyric acid is produced when the probiotics break down prebiotic foods in the colon. Butyric acid is the preferred form of fuel for the cells that line the colon, so they can carry out normal functions. It also supports digestion, reduces inflammation, and serves to acidify the environment, making it harder for harmful bacteria to survive.

In the past, regular consumption of fermented foods helped to maintain healthy gut flora, but these foods are increasingly rare in our diet today. The combination of unhealthy lifestyles and a lack of fermented foods in the diet makes it important for most people to supplement with probiotics.

The benefits of taking Probiotics as a Dietary Supplement:

  • Assists with digestion and nutrient assimilation

  • Helps inhibit the overgrowth of harmful opportunistic bacteria and yeast

  • Supports and promotes a normal, healthy immune system

  • Assists with proper elimination and bowel regularity

  • Helps restore/maintain balanced flora disrupted by antibiotics, drugs, stress, poor nutrition and toxins

  • Supports a healthy inflammatory process

  • Beneficial for GI conditions including IBS, colitis, candida, & dysbiosis

  • Improves insulin sensitivity, therefore preventing diabetes

  • Supports mood balance (depression, anxiety, etc.)

  • Balances cholesterol and blood pressure

  • Decreases cravings and supports healthy weight

  • Supports healthy brain function (cognitive health and focus)

  • Improves skin health

Probiotics are especially beneficial for infants and children that were delivered via C-section, are formula fed or for those unable to be breastfed. Other benefits of probiotics for infants and children include:

  • Healthy immune system maturation and health (specifically respiratory tract infections)

  • Improved stool frequency and consistency

  • Decreased infantile colic

  • Decreased atopic dermatitis or eczema

  • Supports infants whose mothers received antibiotics during pregnancy/lactation

  • Supports children not eating a well-balanced diet rich in dietary fiber (picky eaters)

  • Supports antibiotic-associated gastrointestinal complaints and decreases need for antibiotic use

  • Reduces frequency and severity of abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea in children

  • Decreases chance of food allergies and sensitivities

  • Improves cognitive function – focus and concentration (ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome reduction)

  • Improves oral health, decreases cavities

Popular Probiotic Strains and their benefits:

Lactobacillus acidophilus: Boosts the immune system, significantly reduces the incidence and duration of cold and flu symptoms, improves colitis, enables immune maturation in unborn babies, improves microbiome diversity following antibiotic therapy and is effective against C. difficile, candidiasis, and SIBO, reduces constipation and increasing bowel regularity. It a great strain for a variety of conditions, including healthy digestive function and women who regularly suffer with urinary tract infections. (Bottom line: Supports immune health & proper elimination; helps maintain proper gut flora)

Lactobacillus plantarum: Significantly inhibits the invasion of pathogenic E. coli (especially when combined with other probiotic strains), effectively reduces disturbance of the microbiome resulting from antibiotic therapy, reduces abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and other gastrointestinal symptoms associated with IBS and colitis, enhances the IgG response and improves the body’s response to influenza (especially in elderly individuals). (Bottom line: Supports digestive health & proper elimination)

Bifidobacterium lactis: Broadly recognized for its key role in the human intestinal microflora throughout life. Its anti-inflammatory properties are useful in reducing the symptoms of colitis, while supporting the body against allergies and allergic rhinitis. It protects and restores the microbiome following antibiotic therapy and boosts the body’s IgG response. (Bottom line: Supports gut health & immunity)

Lactobacillus casei: Improves systemic and mucosal immune responses, reducing the occurrence of infections (especially in elderly individuals). Its anti-inflammatory properties are noted as it lowers blood inflammatory markers, reduces the occurrence of necrotizing enterocolitis, supports the immune system in those with ulcerative colitis, and repairs aspirin-induced bowel injury. L. casei also improves insulin sensitivity preventing diabetes mellitus. It is predominantly known for improving the digestive system (specifically IBS and regular diarrhea). In addition, it decreases the pH acidity of the gut, supporting good bacteria and decreasing bad bacteria. (Bottom line: Supports proper systemic & mucosal (GI lining) immune responses)

Bifidobacterium breve: Prevents and improves constipation, abdominal bloating, anal itch, burn, pain, and other symptoms of ulcerative colitis and necrotizing enterocolitis. It also maintains fasting glucose, decreases blood inflammatory marker hsCRP, and increases plasma glutathione (mother of antioxidants). Bifidobacterium breve is naturally found within the gut and also within the vagina, making it great for women who have issues with yeast infections and UTIs. B. breve helps support digestion (excessive gas, bloat, IBS, diarrhea) and is useful in fighting E. coli bacteria. (Bottom line: Supports bowel function & proper elimination)

Lactobacillus paracasei: Inhibits pathogenic salmonella, S. aureus, E. coli, and listeria, while protecting and restoring the microbiome following antibiotic therapy. Naturally boosts the immune system and significantly reduces intestinal inflammation. (Bottom line: Supports healthy gut flora & immunity, especially following antibiotic therapy)

Lactobacillus salivarius: Lessens inflammatory symptoms and modulates cytokine production and the cellular response to pathogenic challenges while restoring a disrupted microbiome. It also improves oral health by reducing gum bleeding and