The gut microbiome is a complex ecosystem composed of different species of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract. The microbiome is the collective name for all the microbes that live in and on the human body. It’s estimated that the average person hosts about 39 trillion microorganisms, collectively known as the microbiome (1). The majority of your microbiome diversity can be traced back to your mother. The womb is typically considered a sterile environment free of microbes, but when we’re born and pass through the birth canal, we get covered in bacteria. The food we eat also has a direct impact on the microbes in our gut, and this can change depending on our diet. For example, if we switch from eating meat to being vegetarian, the bacteria in our gut will also change. These microbes are essential for maintaining good health and are involved in many metabolic processes that take place within the body.
Studies have shown that an unbalanced gut microbiome composition can lead to various diseases including obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and even some mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety. An unhealthy diet or lifestyle can greatly reduce biodiversity within the gut microbiome, resulting in poor health outcomes. On the other hand, a healthy, balanced diet, consisting of proteins, healthy fats, and carbs rich in probiotics and prebiotics (fruits and vegetables) will help increase the diversity of beneficial bacteria within the gut microbiome, which can help improve overall health and prevent disease.
Recent advances in sequencing technology have enabled us to investigate how the composition of a person’s microbial communities can affect their risk for various diseases. For example, studies have shown that people with obesity have a different mix of microbes than those who are lean. Additionally, evidence suggests that certain bacterial species may be involved in metabolic processes associated with obesity and diabetes.
The gut microbiome is also involved in regulating our immune system. Studies suggest that it plays an important role in the development of autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis (MS). The presence of certain bacterial species has been linked to a decreased risk of developing these disorders, while other species have been linked to an increased risk.
The gut microbiome is also associated with mental health. Studies suggest that a diverse and balanced gut microbiome composition may help reduce the risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. Additionally, research has shown that certain bacterial species are associated with improved cognition in older adults.
Every reason above is a sufficient case for taking probiotics alongside fighting Candida Overgrowth. Probiotics can help balance a person’s gut microbiome, strengthening the beneficial bacteria and discouraging Candida growth. Probiotic supplementation can also reduce inflammation in the gut, helping to prevent the adherence of Candida and other pathogenic microorganisms. Finally, probiotics are known to contain antifungal compounds which directly inhibit Candida growth. In addition to probiotics, prebiotics can be taken alongside antifungal medicines for a full-bodied approach to fighting Candida Overgrowth.
Did you know that the first probiotic strain was discovered in 1905 by Dr. Stamen Grigorov, a Bulgarian physician, and microbiologist? Although probiotic supplements are common today, this historic discovery has shaped the modern supplement industry as we now know them. He identified the strain Lactobacillus bulgaricus, which is still used today in yogurt and other fermented dairy products. Since then, the health benefits of probiotics have been studied extensively and a wide variety of different probiotic strains have been isolated, many of which can be taken as supplements.
The Benefits of Probiotic Supplements
There are multiple benefits to taking probiotics in a supplement form compared to probiotic foods
Probiotic supplements are convenient and easy to take. They can be taken at any time and don’t require any meal planning or preparation. Many probiotics don’t need to be refrigerated, making them even more convenient to take with you on the go.
- Exact dosage
It’s challenging to estimate how many probiotics you are consuming when eating foods that contain them, like yogurt or kefir. On the other hand, probiotic supplements provide a controlled dose of bacteria that can be taken each day at exact intervals to increase health benefits.
- Selection of strains
With supplements, it’s possible to select specific strains of bacteria that are beneficial for particular health conditions. Some supplements contain a combination of helpful probiotics while others may only have one strain. Having the ability to tailor your supplement choice is very advantageous when you are trying to target a specific health condition.
- Complimentary to probiotic foods
Probiotic foods are excellent sources of highly bioavailable probiotics, but taking supplements can provide higher doses of these beneficial bacteria. Additionally, taking a probiotic supplement in combination with probiotic foods can be a great way to boost your daily intake of beneficial bacteria.
Here is the list of suggested probiotics, along with the strains and dosing:
|Align||Bifidobacterium Longum||1 billion||1 capsule per day|
|Bio-K + Daily Care||Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus acidophilus||50 billion||1 capsule per day|
|Culturelle Pro Strength Digestive Daily||Lactobacillus rhamnosus||12 billion||1 capsule per day|
|Florastor Daily||Saccharomyces boulardii||250 mg per capsule||2 capsules per day|
|Garden of Life Once Daily Women’s||16 strains: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus brevis, Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus salivarius, Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus gasseri, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium lactis, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium longum||50 billion||1 capsule per day|
|Jarrow Formulas Saccharomyces Boulardii + MOS||Saccharomyces boulardii (an S. cerevisiae strain), Bio-MOS (Manno-oligosaccharides) derived from S. cerevisiae||5 billion||1 capsule per day|
|Nature’s Bountry Controlled Delivery Probiotic||6 strains: Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium longum||2 billion||1 caplet per day|
|Nature’s Way Probiotic Pearls||Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus acidophilus||1 billion||1 softgel per day|
|NOW Probiotic 10||Blend of 10 strains: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus paracasei, Bifidobacterium breve, Streptocous thermophilus, Lactobacillus salivarius, Bifidobacterium longum||25 billion||1 capsule x 1-2 times per day|
|Swanson L. Reuteri Plus||Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus acidophilus||7 billion||1 capsule per day|
How many CFUs should my probiotic have?
When searching for a probiotic product, you want to pay attention to both the strains and the number of colony-forming units (CFUs). CFUs are the measure of viable bacteria present in a probiotic supplement. Though the number of probiotic strains may be important, research suggests that the specific types included are often key to microbial balance.
When considering the amount of probiotic CFUs (colony-forming units) to buy, several factors should be taken into account. Firstly, you should consider your individual health needs. Depending on what condition or symptoms you are looking to treat, the number of probiotics required may vary. For example, if it is for general gut health maintenance, then a lower dose of 5-10 billion CFU daily may be enough. However, if you’re looking to treat a specific condition such as IBS or SIBO, then higher doses of up to 50 billion CFU or even more may be needed to achieve desired results. If you have Candida Overgrowth, it’s best to start slowly by choosing a probiotic with fewer CFUs. This will help avoid shocking your system. After you’re more comfortable and the die-off symptoms have dissipated, you may want to change to a probiotic containing a higher number of CFUs.
You should also factor in the strength of the product when deciding how many probiotic CFUs to buy. While a product may advertise a certain number of CFUs, it is important to know that some probiotics are stronger than others and may require lower doses for the same effect. It is recommended to speak to your healthcare provider about which probiotic strain or combination works best for you and how many CFUs you should take based on those factors. Alternatively, you can do your own research to find which strains are best to target a specific disease and the corresponding dosage.
Which Probiotic Strains to Buy?
When selecting the right probiotic supplement, it is important to ensure that the bacteria strains are carefully chosen and specifically selected for their health benefits. There are a variety of bacterial species available, each with its own specific characteristics. For example, some bacterial species have been studied for their potential to reduce gut inflammation, while others may aid in reducing food allergies or provide relief from certain digestive conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome. If you want to target Candida Overgrowth and other gut symptoms you are experiencing at the same time, it is important to pick the right mix of bacteria strains.
In addition to considering which bacteria strains you want to include in your supplement regimen, it’s also important to consider how many different types of bacteria are present. A probiotic supplement that contains only one strain usually offers a more targeted approach, as it contains CFUs of just one species. On the other hand, multiple-strain products containing several different species can provide a broader range of health benefits but may have fewer CFUs per strain.
Finally, it is essential to look for products that are manufactured under high-quality standards and verified by third-party laboratories. This helps ensure that the product contains what is stated on the label and delivers maximum efficacy when taken as directed. The right choice in probiotics can make all the difference in achieving optimal gastrointestinal health and removal of Candida Overgrowth. Therefore, it is important to do your research and choose a product that contains the right strains of bacteria to get the most out of your supplement regimen.
Though an overwhelming number of probiotic strains exist, these are the most commonly used families of probiotic strains:
Lactobacilli are a type of bacteria that mainly breaks down carbohydrates to produce lactic acid. It’s a broad family of bacteria that includes 80 different types of Lactobacilli strains so far.
Lactobacilli are essential for the making of foods that need lactic acid fermentation, such as yogurt, cheese, sauerkraut, pickles, and other fermented products.
Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium are the first types of bacteria to enter and establish themselves in the gut of an infant after delivery. It’s normally present in both the vagina and gastrointestinal tract.
Lactobacilli is a popular probiotic because of its many advantages, including tolerance to stomach acid and bile, ability to stick to intestinal surfaces and withstand low pH and gastric juice. This means that this type of probiotic is more likely than others to make it through the digestive system unchanged and be able to colonize the gut flora.
Many studies suggest that Lactobacilli strains help reduce the chance of diarrhea caused by taking antibiotics. Lactobacilli not only help remove cholesterol but also hinder pathogenic species, acting as antimicrobials. Lactobacillus rhamnosus has been shown to be effective in clearing respiratory viruses. A published meta-analysis showed that Lactobacillus strains were effective in preventing recurrent urinary tract infections in adult women.
It’s important to keep in mind that it takes a while to build up Lactobacilli levels in the gut, and they quickly disappear once supplementation stops. Thus, Lactobacilli require longer intake of supplementation for it to be more effective.
Bifidobacterium is an anaerobic bacteria, meaning it doesn’t require oxygen to live. It helps the gut break down food and produce lactic and acetic acid.
This bacteria is one of the first to colonize an infant’s intestinal tract while they are born. The Bifidobacterium infantis bacteria are uniquely adapted to the gut of an infant because they can feed off complex carbohydrates found in human milk. Bifidobacteria are essential from the time we’re born and into adulthood. They make up a large portion of the beneficial bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract that help us stay healthy.
Bifidobacterium infantis has been shown to be particularly effective in improving gastrointestinal health. This strain can help reduce inflammation and gut permeability, including the cases of “leaky gut”, by producing short-chain fatty acids when fermenting dietary fibers.
Various types of diarrhea can also be treated by Bifidobacterium infantis. Studies have shown that this strain is effective in reducing the duration of acute diarrhea. It also helps to prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea and traveler’s diarrhea.
Bifidobacterium animalis-containing fermented milk products have been reported to help with regularity and prevent constipation.
Saccharomyces is a group of fungi that contains many species of yeasts. The word Saccharomyces comes from the Greek language and it means sugar fungus.
It is also called brewer’s yeast or baker’s yeast. For example, Saccharomyces cerevisiae is essential in the production of bread. Similarly, Saccharomyces bayanus is used to make wine and Saccharomyces boulardii is often used in medicine.
Several clinical trials strongly suggest that Saccharomyces boulardii can be used for the prevention and treatment of several gastrointestinal diseases. This strain produces responses that protect the gut in a way similar to healthy gut flora.
Saccharomyces boulardii is a probiotic with many health benefits, including preventing the growth of parasites and bacteria. It also inhibits pathogenic bacteria from adhering to cells. S. boulardii also acts as an antitoxin against various pathogens, including E. coli and cholera.
Saccharomyces boulardii has been proven to be effective against several acute and chronic diseases. This strain helps to lessen diarrhea symptoms and duration, regardless of the cause. It’s effective against chronic diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
S. boulardii should be cautiously considered for immunocompromised patients or individuals in hospitals because it could cause fungemia or localized infections..
Note that some S.boulardii probiotics are not shelf stable and require refrigeration. Furthermore, heat and sun exposure can reduce their efficacy.
Lactococcus is a group of bacteria that were formally classified under the genus Streptococcus Group. The only product these bacteria produce is lactic acid through the process of glucose fermentation.
Lactococcus lactis has a rich history of being used in the fermentation process of numerous food items, such as cheese and yogurt. Because it is such a common ingredient with a long-standing tradition, the FDA has categorized it as GRAS (generally recognized as safe). L. lactis not only provides flavor but also creates Nisin, a peptide that acts as a preservative in food.
Lactococcus lactis is commonly used to deliver therapeutics because it does not colonize the gut and can survive passage through the gastrointestinal tract. This strain can deliver cytokines into the body. Cytokines are molecules that send messages between cells. When released, they signal the immune system to do its job by stimulating the immune system or slowing it down.
Lactococcus lactis strains have also been looked into as a possible remedy for food allergies, such as cow’s milk allergy. In an animal study, it was shown that the allergen caused less sensitivity and built higher tolerance towards the allergen.
In combination with other probiotics, Lactococcus lactis is also used to treat antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
In addition to supporting digestive health, probiotic strains of Lactococcus may also help improve skin health. Studies have suggested that these bacteria can improve skin hydration and reduce acne breakouts.
Multiple probiotic strains working together have been more successful in treating certain diseases. Here are a few examples:
- Travelers’ diarrhea
The most commonly used probiotics are Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Saccharomyces boulardii, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Bacillus coagulans.
- Bacterial vaginosis
Promising results have been seen in treating bacterial vaginosis by using Lactobacilli strains together with antibiotics.
The review of randomized trials revealed that Bifidobacterium lactis and Lactobacillus casei were effective in the treatment of functional constipation for adults.
- Ulcerative colitis
In a study, patients with ulcerative colitis took a probiotic that included three Bifidobacterium strains, four Lactobacillus strains, and one S. thermophilus strain. The results showed that fifteen out of the twenty patients remained in remission throughout the trial, meaning that taking this probiotic helps prevent relapse for those suffering from ulcerative colitis.
When Should I Take Probiotics?
Probiotics are most effective when taken 30 minutes before breakfast or right before bedtime. You’ll reap the most probiotic benefits when you take them on an empty stomach. That’s because stomach acid breaks down food as it enters your small intestine, and these supplements are no exception. Your stomach contains enzymes that protect your body against harmful bacteria and viruses. This is bad news for the probiotic bacteria, as prolonged exposure to stomach acid kills them. Our objective is to ensure the probiotics pass through your stomach acid quickly.
Everything you eat and drink causes the stomach to secrete stomach acid and digestive enzymes. The more you eat, the heavier your meal will be, and the higher your level of stomach acid production will be. This means that food spends more time in your stomach before moving to your small intestine. On average, the stomach takes 4-5 hours to digest food. If you take a probiotic after consuming a large meal, the probiotic will have to endure the stomach’s acidity for much longer before it can reach the small intestine.
Some probiotic strains are more susceptible to stomach acid than others. For example, Saccharomyces boulardii microorganisms survive in equal numbers whether taken on an empty stomach or with a meal (2). On the other hand, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium survive best when taken up to 30 minutes before a meal.
Generally, taking probiotics at least 30 minutes before a meal or 2-3 hours after a meal will reduce the time it takes for the good bacteria to get to your gut.
Though some may debate whether it is more important to take probiotics with or without food, consistency is probably the key factor.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you can optimize the effects of probiotics by taking them with specific foods. According to research, taking most kind of probiotics with some healthy fats in your meal may improve the survival rate of good bacteria in your digestive tract. However, Lactobacillus probiotics are more likely to survive when consumed with carbs, as they use glucose for energy in an acidic environment (3).
If you want to maximize the effectiveness of your probiotics, try taking them at night right before going to sleep or first thing in the morning before your breakfast.
How Long Should I Take Probiotics?
It is important to understand that the length of time you need to take probiotics will vary depending on your individual health needs. Generally, probiotics should be taken for at least a few weeks, but the amount of time can range from several days up to several months or even years.
There have been studies showing that a short-term intake (one week) of probiotics is insufficient to colonize the gut with “good bacteria.” The benefits of taking commercial probiotics ceased a few days after the supplementation is stopped (4).
For example, if you are taking probiotics with antibiotics to improve your gut health and don’t have any other underlying health conditions, you might only need to take them for as long as the antibiotic course. To effectively fight Candida Overgrowth, you will need to take probiotics for at least a few weeks – the duration of the Candida Meal Plan. You should continue consuming probiotics even after you’re done with the Candida Meal Plan and have started eating a greater variety of foods to keep up the results you’ve achieved. This latest study has shown that the probiotic strains from supplements are no longer detectable after 4 weeks of stopping supplementation (5).
It’s also important to remember that everyone’s body responds differently to probiotics and that some people may need to take them for longer than others. The degree to which someone suffers from Candida Yeast Overgrowth varies. If you have been experiencing symptoms for a long time or have chronic Candida Overgrowth, it would be beneficial to take probiotics for extended periods of time, much longer than the duration of the Candida Meal Plan.
It is also important to remember that probiotics are not one-size-fits-all solutions, and it is important to take note of how you feel while taking them. If no improvement is seen after 4 weeks or you experience side effects, the dosage may need to be adjusted or alternative probiotics may need to be tried.