Having healthy bacteria in your body is incredibly important for preventing disease, preventing infections, and for helping you to feel your very best. You want plenty of good bacteria because it works for you by killing off harmful invaders, helps you to absorb nutrients, enhances your immune system, and even helps to digest some of your food.
We know that probiotics can be incredibly beneficial, but it can be tricky and confusing when it comes to choosing a probiotic, plus probiotics can be expensive so you want to make sure you are getting the best! The first step to choosing a probiotic is to determine what you want from the probiotic.
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Below lists how to choose the right probiotic for you:
If you frequently get urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Studies have shown that both Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus rhamnosus can reduce and may prevent the incidence of UTIs. Studies have also shown that when antibiotics were taken with probiotics for treatment of an active UTI, treatment outcomes were better for those who took the probiotic.
If you frequently have constipation
One strain in particular that has shown effective in numerous studies for reducing constipation is Bifidobacterium lactis. Other strains that may help with constipation include Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium animalis, Bifidobacterium longum, and Lactobacillus plantarum.
If you have frequent vaginal infections
Bacterial vaginosis as well as vaginal yeast infections are often associated with low vaginal lactobacilli bacteria. A combination of Lactobacillus probiotic strains has been found to be most effective when treating vaginal infections. Strains that have been shown to be particularly beneficial include the following strains:
Read more about the different studies on the strains of probiotics and their effectiveness here.
If you are having a hard time losing weight
If you’ve been having trouble losing weight and you feel constantly hungry, try using probiotics. Probiotics that have shown to help you lose weight include species of Lactobacillus, specifically Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus gasseri. VSL# 3 is a probiotic in particular that may help with weight loss because it has been shown to promote satiety by increasing GLP-1 (satiety inducing hormone).
If you are taking antibiotics
Antibiotics are sometimes necessary for large bacterial infections. Unfortunately, antibiotics will also kill off good bacteria which can lead to stomach upset and even weight gain and immune suppression. Start taking probiotics immediately when prescribed antibiotics and continue taking the probiotics for 2-3 weeks even after you have finished the course of antibiotics. Aim to take the probiotic a few hours from the antibiotic because there is the possibility of the antibiotic inactivating the probiotic – remember antibiotics kill bacteria and probiotics are bacteria.
If you are going to be traveling
The worst is to be having a great time on vacation or traveling, and then the next thing you know you have a stomach ache and diarrhea – not good! Taking a probiotic before your trip, during, and after can be helpful with preventing traveler’s diarrhea.
Strains that studies have shown to help with preventing diarrhea or traveler’s diarrhea include Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus casei, and Saccharomyces boulardii.
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About the author: Sarah-Kate is an Ivy League trained Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner with an expertise in women’s health and preventative healthcare. She considers nutrition and exercise to be the basis of well-being and is a strong advocate for daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet.