GUIDE TO PROBIOTICS
What are probiotics?
A huge portion of our body's immune system (70%!) lives within our gut. Healthy gut flora is made up of trillions of tiny microbes which help to keep bad bacteria from taking hold and growing out of control.
Probiotics are especially important if you are taking an antibiotic. Antibiotics wipe out the good bacteria along with the bad, leaving you open to a pathogenic bacterial infection known as C. difficile.
Here are some of the probiotics I use for myself and my family.
Bio-K is my probiotic of choice. You can purchase Bio-K products at Whole Foods, Sprouts, Gelson’s, Mother’s Market and some specialty markets/specialty pharmacies and online. It is refrigerated and comes in an enteric-coated capsule (which ensures that the patented strains arrives at the large intestine) and in small packaged drinks that look like yogurt. My favorite is the Strawberry Bio-K drink, but I recently switched to the Blueberry flavored flavored fermented rice as I have cut most dairy from my diet. As a no frills kind of guy my husband prefers the capsule. Bio-K is based in Canada and is used in Canadian Hospitals as standard practice with antibiotics to ward of C. difficile infections and antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Bio-K was recently recognized as the #1 recommended Over-The-Counter probiotic by pharmacists. Bio-K has a great website with tons of valuable information on the human microbiome, studies, informative articles from various bloggers, nutritionists and health professionals. They also have a super helpful call-in help line with real live people who can answer any questions you might have about their product. Here is a link to the company website: https://www.biokplus.com/en_ca
Culturelle is one of the most widely recommended probiotics by general practitioners and pediatricians. It contains the bacteria strain Lactobacillus GG which is well studied and believed to help create a stronger barrier of healthy bacteria along the intestinal walls to keep bad bacteria from setting up shop. It does not have to be refrigerated and comes in a sealed foil packet which helps to maintain the viability of the bacteria. Culturelle is available in capsule forms, powders, and chewable tablets. Half the battle with probiotics (and vitamins) is finding a brand you and your child will take. My daughter still takes Culturelle every day and likes taking the chewable. Here is a link to the company website and $5 off coupons: https://www.culturelle.com
VSL#3 is a prescription probiotic medical food. It is extremely potent and ranges from 225 to 900 billion bacteria per serving (depending on your prescribed dose). It comes in both powder and capsule form. VSL#3 was recommended by my daughter's infectious disease doctor and gastroenterologist. It is a refrigerated probiotic and is expensive, but may be partially covered by insurance. VSL#3 is a heavy duty probiotic with proven efficacy in treating conditions such as IBS, Ulcerative Colitis, and Ileal Pouch. Many people who have suffered C. difficile infections take VSL#3. Through the links below, find the company website and a link to a patient savings card:
My entire family takes Florastor every day. Florastor can be taken with antibiotics, without having to wait three hours to take the probiotic. It can also be taken with additional strains of probiotics (any of the probiotics listed above, or other high-quality brands). Florastor contains a yeast called Saccharomyces boulardii which is extracted from the lychee fruit; it helps to keep bad bacteria from adhering to the intestinal walls and has proven in trials to alleviate gastrointestinal problems. Florastor comes in capsule form and in a banana flavored powder packet for kids; it does not need to be refrigerated. Florastor was recommended to me by my infectious disease doctor (who also takes Florastor everyday), my GI, and my daughter’s physicians. Even our one-year-old takes Florastor 2x per day. Please find below a link to the company website and a link to Florastor coupons below:
- Biogaia Biogaia was highly recommended by our pediatrician and GI for our eleven-month old. Biogaia contains "patented lactic acid bacterium Lactobacillus reuteri Protectis". Biogaia was started 26 years ago to reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock, in 2015 Biogaia launched a campaign to combat antibiotic resistance. Biogaia can be purchased in pharmacies and online, the drops are easy to administer and my little guy LOVES taking them, he constantly asks for them (so I have to make a mental note that I have already given them to him for the day!). I just ordered the chewable tabs for my big kids and am excited to give them a try! (I will let you know how it goes). Here is a link to the company website: