You are only 10 percent human.
As crazy as it sounds, our bodies have only 10 percent human cells. The other 90 percent are bacterial.
Most of these bacterial organisms live in your gut, part of a stunningly complex network of 100 million neurons known as your “microbiome”.
Your gut—which includes the esophagus, stomach, and intestines—actually has its own nervous system that allows it to operate independently from the brain, which is why it’s often called the “second brain.”
Ever felt butterflies in your stomach before giving a speech? Or had a “gut feeling” about something that turned out to be right?
That’s the second brain at work.
The Health Benefits of Probiotics
So how do you improve your gut health?
The best way to get more good bacteria in your body is to eat whole, fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, and miso.
The second best way is to take a supplement or eat foods with added “probiotics,” a term used to describe health-promoting bacterial species.
However, 94% of probiotics added to food products are completely ineffective.
That’s because they either:
- Have a short shelf life
- Get killed by your stomach acid, or
- Don’t stay in your digestive tract long enough to provide any health benefit
It doesn’t matter how many “billion CFUs” your probiotic has if none of those good bacteria survive through your digestive system!
How do you find a good probiotic that actually works?
Start by finding out the answers to these questions:
- Does your probiotic survive stomach acid? As mentioned, most don’t. Certain strains fare better than others (like Bacillus coagulans). And some manufacturers (like Hyperbiotics) have developed proprietary processes that time-release the delivery of the bacteria until it reaches your intestine.
- Is your probiotic lab tested for safety? The FDA doesn’t require probiotic companies to test their bacteria strains. So naturally, they don’t do it. Probiotic contamination is a big deal though. If your probiotic manufacturer doesn’t have strict quality control measures in place, your probiotic may be doing more harm than good. Make sure the company you buy from tests its probiotics and can prove it to you.
- Is your probiotic backed by peer-reviewed clinical studies? Don’t trust marketing claims on product labels and websites. Even most clinical data probiotic companies cite is funded by the companies themselves. Your probiotic should be backed by peer-reviewed clinical studies (the gold standard in scientific research) if the company makes any claims about its benefits.
- Does your probiotic contain fillers, preservatives, and artificial ingredients? The answer is usually yes, but manufacturers are very good at hiding this information. The only way to know is to ask.
- Is your probiotic dairy-free? Many probiotics use a milk-based medium to help the bacteria grow. However, the people who probiotics tend to benefit most are those with digestive or immune problems … and dairy can trigger a whole host of issues.
The bottom line
Like most industries, the market for probiotics is ripe with crappy products. The only way to know if your probiotic is legit is to find out the answers to the five questions above. If a manufacturer is hesitant to provide any information you ask for, that’s a big red flag for an inferior product that could do more harm than good.
10 minutes of research makes a world of difference when it comes to choosing a healthy probiotic supplement.
Don’t roll the dice with your health.
If you want to try a probiotic that actually works, grab a sample bag of Pure Food Probiotic Protein Powder for just 5 bucks (you just pay shipping).