Synopsis

Category: Gut Health
  • Environment, poor diet, exposure to toxins, illness, antibiotics, and allergens are all impacting our gut microbes and GI health.
  • Gut microbiome research and the use of probiotic (and prebiotic) supplements have become very trendy. But not all probiotics are created equally. » Jump To This
  • We put probiotics to the test and had our medical team at the New York Center for Innovative Medicine (NYCIM) review a large number of probiotic supplements.
  • This article outlines the 7 probiotic supplements that were found to be best, highest-quality, and thus most effective, on the market. » Jump To This

You might have noticed that the gut microbiome has become quite a trendy topic, with new studies published each week linking gut health to a variety of chronic diseases. If you’re not familiar with just how essential bacteria and other microbes are to your gastrointestinal health, consider this: many of the foods you consume each day can only be partially digested, but with the help of our gut microbiome – that increases tenfold. Our bodies have evolved over time to be efficient machines, but even then, there is only so much we can do. Just like how we must consume many essential nutrients through our diet to make sure our body operates to its full potential, the microbes living within our small and large intestine help breakdown more complex components making them more easily absorbable. In some cases, they even convert certain metabolites into beneficial nutrients we would never have been able to use. Together, our gut microbiome forms a symbiotic relationship with its host: us. Through them, we are able to digest a variety of foods and fight off pathogens threatening our health – and in turn we offer them a safe, friendly environment with consistent access to nutrients each day.

Gut Health: A Balancing Act

When the gut ecosystem is balanced, our gut microbiome thrives and promotes healthy, beneficial activities. This is often supported by a nutritious diet full of fruits and vegetables and rich in fiber. However, the overall increase in health conditions has many scientists looking inward at what might be changing. It seems that a variety of outside stimuli can affect the health of our gut microbiome. Our environment, poor diet, exposure to toxins, illness, antibiotics, and allergens can all trigger an immune response and throw off the natural balance of our gut microbes. This results in gut dysbiosis – a term that refers to an unstable, imbalanced gut microbiome. This can tip the scales to allow opportunistic bacteria that can threaten our gut health, not to mention lead to inflammation that may penetrate the far reaches of our body. Many chronic gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn’s or Irritable Bowel Disease have been linked to long term gut dysbiosis.

Related: Keto is the New Black – But Does it Suit Everyone?

For many, the best way to reduce your symptoms or improve your overall health, is to reduce your consumption of dietary irritants that disrupt the natural balance of your gut microbiome. Consuming foods rich in probiotics – or beneficial bacterial populations – has also been shown to help alleviate symptoms. These foods can range from fermented items like kefir, sauerkraut, and kombucha, to apple cider vinegar. For some though, adding a daily probiotic can be the difference your system needs to promote a balanced gut.

The Keys to Finding Your Best Probiotic Fit

Whether you suffer from common GI disorders or you’re looking to improve your gastrointestinal motility, you might be browsing the shelves of your local drug store or market to see what probiotics are available. Like gut microbiome research, probiotics have become a trendy venture. Unfortunately, not all probiotics are created equal. If you’re looking to add a probiotic to your daily routine, there are a few things we at Innovative Medicine want you to consider:

  1. Quality of Ingredients
  2. Focus of the Probiotic
  3. Shelf Life Stability

It can be difficult to navigate what exactly makes a probiotic effective. Although some probiotics advertise billions upon billions of CFU (colony-forming units) and are comprised of dozens of different species, more doesn’t necessarily mean better.
Fortunately, we at Innovative Medicine have done a whole host – pun intended – of work to help you sort out which probiotic may be best for you.

Choosing the best probiotic that can make an impact on your health can take time. What’s more, it can be difficult to navigate what exactly makes a probiotic effective. Although some probiotics advertise billions upon billions of CFU (colony-forming units) and are comprised of dozens of different species, more doesn’t necessarily mean better. Whether the probiotic can make it intact to your GI system, and whether it itself contains any fillers that can trigger a reaction are also concerns worth accounting for. Furthermore, some probiotics are focused on reducing specific issues, such as focusing on inflammation or IBS symptoms. Keep this in mind when you’re reviewing a bottle. Additionally, examining the quality and expiration date of your probiotic should also be a priority. Probiotics contain live bacteria with the ability to reproduce – but if they’re not stored properly you might be consuming a dud. An expensive dud.

Fortunately, we at Innovative Medicine have done a whole host – pun intended – of work to help you sort out which probiotic may be best for you. We have tested each product at our own Innovative Medicine clinic – and found these 7 to be the best on the market. Check out our top picks, and a bonus choice for those who want a little something more.

Our Top Innovative Medicine Picks for the Best Probiotic

1. Genestra Brands – HMF Forte

Average Cost: $38.00 [60 Pills, twice daily]
NON-GMO, DAIRY FREE, GLUTEN FREE, SOY FREE

This product received Innovative Medicine’s highest score probiotic and continues to be the supplement recommended in house for many of our patients. It boasts strong adherence to intestinal cells, improving the likelihood of successful colonization. Many have reported almost immediate reduction of gastrointestinal discomfort and no uncomfortable stomach effects immediately swallowing.

With 10 Billion CFUs per serving and containing 4 comprehensive probiotic strains, HMF Forte tosses out fancy fillers for simply effective. This probiotic is trusted among many integrative doctors, including the New York Center of Innovative Medicine’s own practitioners. Its quality ingredients make HMF Forte vegan-friendly and maintain an affordable supplement to your gut health.

Strains included: Lactobacillus acidophilus (CUL-60), Lactobacillus acidophilus (CUL-21) Bifidobacterium bifidum (CUL-20), Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis (CUL-34)

Hah from Colorado noted it helped his Crohn’s symptoms, stating, “HMF Forte keeps me running strong.”

HMF Forte Probiotics - Innovative Medicine

2. Ora Organics – Trust Your Gut

Average Cost: $34.99 [60 Pills, twice daily]
NON-GMO, DAIRY FREE, GLUTEN FREE, SOY FREE

This vegan probiotic is a close second on our list, featuring an innovative freeze-dried recipe that drastically extends its shelf life to 5 years. Touting 16 Billion CFU per serving and 6 probiotic strains, it also includes Jerusalem artichoke as a beneficial prebiotic shown to fuel the bacteria with proper fiber and nutrients. Ora Organics ultimately sought to create a probiotic for sensitive stomachs, free of synthetic fillers, and travel ready. Their formula reduces the need for refrigeration to keep your gut happy when you’re on the go.

Strains included: Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Lactobacillus Reuteri, Bifodobacterium Bifidum, Bifidobacterium Breve, Bifidobacterium Lactis, Bifidobacterium Longum

One reviewer, Kateyln, wrote, “We’re on our third bottle of these little miracle workers at my house. I have a dairy sensitivity and have noticed an improvement with my GI since starting.”

3. Pure Encapsulations – Probiotic G.I.

Average Cost: $28.30 [60 Pills, twice daily]
NON-GMO, DAIRY FREE, GLUTEN FREE, SOY FREE

Pure Encapsulations focused on creating an immune focused probiotic to improve intestinal health and reduce gut inflammation. Hypoallergenic, these probiotics steer clear from artificial sweeteners, colors, preservatives, and GMO’s. This probiotic contains 10 Billion CFU per serving with 6 probiotic strains used to help those fighting symptoms associated with gut inflammation.

Strains included: Bifidobacterium lactis (Bl-04), Lactobacillus acidophilus (La-14), Lactobacillus salivarius (Ls-33), Lactobacillus casei (Lc-11), Streptococcus thermophilus (St-21), Bifidobacterium bifidum (Bb-06)

One reviewer from Chandler, AZ stated,This is amazing for me. I have had IBS since I was a teenager. I recently had my body fail on me with EXTREMELY high inflammation (cardiac risk), significant quick weight gain, and food intolerance. After taking this I go like a normal person and inflammation naturally came down. I personally feel it saved my life.”

4. Renew Life – Ultimate Flora Probiotic

Average Cost: $16.98 [30 Pills, once daily]
NON-GMO, DAIRY FREE, GLUTEN FREE, SOY FREE

Our next two probiotics include the most diverse selections with the largest number of live bacteria. Renew Life Ultimate Flora Probiotics comes in at the most affordable of our picks and has a hefty dose of 30 Billion CFU per serving with 12 different probiotic strains. This probiotic features a time-release design to support immune and digestive health.

Strains included: Bifidobacterium lactis, Bifidobacgterium breve, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lacidophillus casei, Lactobacillus plantatum, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus sallivarius, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus bulgaricus

P. White of Tulsa, OK said that, “This product is the best I have found at alleviating my symptoms. It keeps me regular, and the bloating and gas are almost “normal” now. There’s not much else to say, really, other than I wish I’d found it a long time ago. I’ve tried plenty other brands and keep coming back to this specific product.”

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5. Dr. Mercola – Complete Probiotics

Average Cost: $29.97 [30 Pills, once daily]
NON-GMO, DAIRY FREE, GLUTEN FREE, SOY FREE

Dr. Mercola has built a company upon the belief in providing quality products. This probiotic contains the highest dose of live bacteria at a staggering 70 Billion CFU per serving, with 10 different probiotic strains. Dr. Mercola’s focus to bring effective bacterial strains that are viable, dose specific, and have an extended shelf life span have crafted Complete Probiotics as a sizeable opponent to many other rival supplements. Backed by research, this freeze-dried strain selection was chosen to adapt to the human digestive system and reduce symptoms associated with lactose intolerance. Moreover, the inclusion of seed bacteria and spore bacteria provide the appropriate mixture to redefine your gut microbiome.

Strains included: Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS®-1, Bifidobacterium lactis, Bifidobacterium  bifidum, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus brevis, Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus salivarius, Streptococcus thermophilus

Brad S. of Austin, Texas remarked, “I’ve used probiotics for years and I’ve cycled through quite a few brands before I found this one. Both my partner and I have had our gall bladders removed and my partner has microscopic colitis, so probiotics are rather important. Other probiotics made our bodies rather “yeasty” (skin feeling tacky under arms, etc) but this probiotic does not do that at all. As far as bowel movements, we’ve been as regular as regular can be. We’ve found that we do not need to even take the recommended dosage.”

6. Microbiome Labs – MegaSporeBiotic

Average Cost: $55.00 [60 Pills, once to twice daily]
NON-GMO, DAIRY FREE, GLUTEN FREE, SOY FREE

MegaSporeBiotic is a vegan 100% Spore based product that focuses on reconditioning the gut instead of reseeding it with strains that cannot survive digestion or face difficulty colonizing in the gut. At 4 Billion CFU per serving with 5 unique strains of the genus Bacillus, these spores remain dormant until settling in a more favorable environment, like your digestive system.

Additionally, their website provides a variety of studies to support their species selections for disorders associated with gut inflammation. If you’re someone who likes to get into the nitty-gritty of what may be happening inside you, take a look at their site and get more familiar with the science.

Spores included: Bacillus Indicus HU36, Bacillus Clausii, Bacillus Subtilis HU58, Bacillus Licheniformis, Bacillus Coagulans

Adam from L.A. said, “I’m only a few days into the first bottle of Megasporebiotic. It has already had a dramatically positive effect on my gut function.”

Related: Beyond Diet: 7 Ways to Stay Healthy For Life

7. New Chapter – Probiotic All-Flora

Average Cost: $27.97 [30 Pills, once daily]
NON-GMO, DAIRY FREE, GLUTEN FREE

New Chapter has acquired a high reputation for using quality ingredients in many of their supplements. This product contains 10 Billion CFU per serving, including 3 different probiotic species strains in additional to both prebiotic and postbiotics to enhance its colonization effects. Although it includes beneficial nutrients for bacteria sourced from Non-GMO artichoke and turmeric, it does include fermented soy and may not be beneficial for peri- or menopausal women or those on hormone replacement therapy due to its potential impact on estrogen levels.

Strains included: Lactobacillus LP01, Bifidobacterium BR03, Saccharomyces boulardii

Dakota from Chattanooga, TN mentioned, “These are so awesome. I’ve been taking for a month now and they have helped my gut so much! Thank you for bringing back this probiotic new and improved!”

Bonus: RMS Beauty – Within Probiotic + Prebiotic

Average Cost: $64.00 [60 Pills, twice daily]
NON-GMO, DAIRY FREE, GLUTEN FREE, SOY FREE

Rose Marie-Swift knows about producing a high quality product. A prominent make-up artists to the stars, she started a company after seeing the effects of chemicals and low-quality ingredients in beauty care products. Containing 25 Billion CFU per serving with 8 probiotic strains, RMS Beauty’s Within Probiotic features additional prebiotics to help nourish colonizing bacteria. This recipe also includes other components such as antioxidants to promote healthy skin, hair, and nails. Designed to regulate and balance your digestive system, its comprehensive bacterial strains are delay-released with a recommended serving size of two a day.

Strains included: Bacillus subtilis DE1111®, Lactobacillus paracasei Lpc-37, Bifidobacterium longum BI-05, Lactobacillus casei Lc-11, Lactobacillus salivarius Ls-33, Lactobacillus acidophilus La-14, Bifidobacterium animalis lactic VK2, Lactobacillus brevis Lbr-34

Mimi B. found, “I can eat without worrying about “if” when eating something that in the past has caused uncomfortable circumstances in my stomach.”

Healing from the Inside-Out

Innovative Medicine believes in a complete approach to health by incorporating quality nutrition, spiritual and mental healing, as well as functional medicine therapies when needed. That’s why we understand an essential part of your journey toward optimal health is being more aware of what goes into your body, including the supplements you choose. Innovative Medicine only supports the highest quality supplements in any industry and personally tests and examines each product it recommends in its clinic. Hopefully our list gives you a little peace of mind on your path toward digestive health.

And now that you’ve seen our top picks, it’s time for you to choose which one is best for you, because don’t forget: each person is different. If one probiotic doesn’t work for you, don’t consider it a lost cause. Speak with your physician and see if your symptoms may match better with an alternative formula. Even if you’ve found the best probiotic for you, we recommend taking it for 3 months and then re-evaluating how you feel.

The most frequent take-away reviewers mentioned for any probiotic was that although “X Brand” worked well for many, it didn’t work well for all. Your quest for improved gut health may face bumps in the road but persevere! – the right fit can make a world of difference.

*Probiotics can have potential side effects, including bloating, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, or irritability. No matter what probiotic you choose, we recommend you refrigerate upon opening to optimize their shelf life.

At Innovative Medicine, we believe in transparency. We want you to know that we are a participant in the Amazon Associated Program. This program is an affiliate advertising program. It is designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon.com.

However, we only support quality products that we believe in and that have proven and tested benefits. We aim to provide you with accurate and reliable information so that you can make the best decisions for your health and well-being.

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About IM Health Team

Our Innovative Medicine Health Team is a committed and impassioned group of individuals with focused efforts on exploring and shedding light on this comprehensive realm of healing - sharing insight on some of the most advanced, integrative, but most importantly, innovative topics in medicine - empowering you to be the healthiest version of you. Want to learn more? Here's our story.
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