We’ve all heard about probiotics, but what I have failed to find is a comprehensive guide of information and recommendations. This post is it.

First, if you don’t know what probiotics are, or have just a vague idea, here’s the common definition:

“Living micro-organisms that, when ingested or locally applied in sufficient numbers, can fill one or more specified demonstrated functional or health benefits for the consumer. Bulgarians were noticed to live longer and they used microbiotics to ferment milk and kefir. Stool analysis showed Lactobacillus bulgaricus in the healthy, long-living Bulgarians.”

Basically, it means that your body is filled with good and bad bacteria. Ideally the count is 85% good to 15% bad. You will experience ideal health when your bacteria count falls within this range.

However, if you are in dysbiosis (unbalanced, versus eubiosis being balanced) you might experience some common signs, like:

  • Fatigue
  • Poor memory or Spacey feeling
  • Insomnia and Hypersomnia
  • Anxiety or Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Muscle and joint aches and pains
  • Alcohol intolerance
  • Itching
  • Frequent urination
  • Skin rash
  • Palpitations
  • Gas or bloating
  • Diarrhea or Constipation
  • Candida
  • Body odors and bad breath
  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Frequent colds

I wish it were easy enough to say that taking a great probiotic will bring you towards eubiosis, it isn’t. Most practitioners will recommend the four “R’s”:

  1. Remove toxins; including food allergies, parasites, yeast,
  2. Replace stomach acid, digestive enzymes,
  3. Repopulate with the good bacteria, and
  4. Repair the bowel lining

Probiotics help with numbers three and four. A good diet and some great supplements will help with one, two and four. More on those areas later!

So what should you look for when shopping for your probiotics? That’s the Billion Culture question! If you research this, you will find the science behind prebiotics (the food for the probiotics), acid and bile tolerance, types of strains, and additives that affect the end result of your daily intake. Here are a few of my favorite articles (beware, some include advertisements for their own product!)

Based on the science, and some helpful recommendations, these are a few I’d recommend you look into. They are in no particular order, and not any one of them comes across as “perfect” to me…

Most of these can be found both online and in local health food stores.

I haven’t met a healthcare professional that didn’t recommend probiotics to some degree. My own personal experimentation has yielded phenomenal results and I highly recommend them to everyone I coach. Let me know how it works for you, or what you’ve taken them for. If you have recommendations, comment on those too!

Precautions and Contraindications

Since probiotics contain live microorganisms, there is a slight chance that these preparations might cause pathological infection, particularly in critically ill or severely immunocompromised patients. Probiotic strains of Lactobacillushave also been reported to cause bacteremia in patients with short-bowel syndrome, possibly due to altered gut integrity.[57,58,72,73] Caution is also warranted in patients with central venous catheters, since contamination leading to fungemia has been reported when Saccharomyces capsules were opened and administered at the bedside.[68,73]

Lactobacillus preparations are contraindicated in persons with a hypersensitivity to lactose or milk.[75]S. boulardii is contraindicated in patients with a yeast allergy.[73,76] No contraindications are listed for bifidobacteria, since most species are considered nonpathogenic and nontoxigenic.[57,72] (from the website http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/719654_14)