I spend a lot of my days talking about probiotics.
They come up when I’m prescribing antibiotics (since antibiotics also kill many of the natural “good” bacteria in the gut), when talking about GI symptoms (irritable bowel, bloating, constipation), when talking about weight loss and obesity, and when seeing babies and kids with constipation.
So much research has been coming out on this and I’m loving it. A study was out recently from UCSF about allergies and asthma being linked with the diversity of infant gut bacteria — “Variations in just four kinds of bacteria—Bifidobacteria, Lactobacillus, Faecalibacterium, and Akkermansi—heightened the risk of allergies and asthma” (study here).
There are LOTS of probiotic strains and species making it quickly overwhelming. The main groups are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, and then there are multiple species and strains under these groups.
The best way to get probiotics is through fermented food, such as:
But, most of us don’t eat too many of these.
The other option is taking a probiotic supplement, and there are a lot to chose from. Common single strain brands include Align, Florastor and Culturelle. Multi-strain probiotics include Jarro-Dophilus and Garden of Life RAW probiotics .
There’s a lot still to learn about which specific strains might be helpful for certain conditions. One of the most interesting areas to me is using probiotics for obesity treatment — studies such as these suggest certain strains could be helpful:
“Lactobacillus gasseri SBT 2055, Lactobacillus rhamnosus ATCC 53103, and the combination of L. rhamnosus ATCC 53102 and Bifidobacterium lactis Bb12 may reduce adiposity, body weight, and weight gain.”
Our family has been trying to eat more fermented foods. This can be hard with a toddler, but we have some success with yogurt, kefir, and even kimchi.
We’ve also been occasionally giving our kids baby Jarro-Dophilus to help their microbiome:How do you get your probiotics?