Probiotics are very popular in the supplement market today. But not just today—In 2012, the NHIS found that roughly 4 million U.S. adults had used probiotics in the past 30 days and that probiotics were the third most commonly used dietary supplement other than vitamins and minerals. 
Is there actually a clear science behind the use of probiotics? What even are they?
We did the research for you. Keep reading to find out the truth about “healthy” bacteria.
First Things First - Know the Science
You probably have a lot of questions when it comes to the world of probiotics. Lucky for you, we have science-backed answers! Check it out.
- Bacteria doesn’t always mean “bad.” Sure, bacteria have a bad reputation, like Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumonia) or Group A Streptococcus (strep throat). But they’re not all bad eggs. The “good” ones actually help our bodies do things like digest food and absorb nutrients, produce vitamins in the GI tract, protect us from disease, and even boost cholesterol levels. [2,3]
- Not all probiotics do the same thing. Meaning, not all “good” bacteria help with just digestive issues or gut health. There are 7 core genera of microbial bacteria most often used in probiotic products—Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Saccharomyces, Streptococcus, Enterococcus, Escherichia, and Bacillus. The benefits of the microorganism being used in a product depend upon its strain, species, and genera. Some are used specifically for gastrointestinal improvements, some are helpful in pregnancies, some are used for a boost in immunity, and so on. Some products will lump several strains together to offer even more benefits. [2,3]
- Probiotics don’t need to be taken on an empty stomach, despite what you’ve heard. Researchers mention that taking a probiotic during or after a meal may even help to improve the probiotic’s survival in your system for optimum benefits . As for us, we recommend taking our Pattern Wellness Probiotic with food once daily.
- Probiotics are not the same as prebiotics or synbiotics. Prebiotics usually fall under complex carbohydrates (like inulin and other fructo-oligosaccharides) that bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract use as metabolic fuel. Synbiotics are products that combine probiotics and prebiotics. [2,3]
- Probiotics come in many different forms. It’s not just supplements! “Good” bacteria live in foods like yogurt, buttermilk, and cheeses with live cultures. Many other fermented foods can contain probiotics, too, such as [2,3]:
How do probiotics work?
So, what do supplement companies mean when they say “friendly” or “healthy” bacteria? The history of probiotics traces back nearly 10,000 years.
Let’s take a look at the basics first: [5,6,2]
- Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that help normal microflora in the human body thrive.
- Probiotics are measured in colony-forming units (CFUs), which indicate the number of viable cells. Studies show that 10 to 20 million CFU is the minimum for beneficial gut support, while larger CFUs are even more beneficial for those seeking relief from stomach issues like constipation, gas, or IBS.
The “friendly” bacteria, or probiotics, you keep hearing about, are just that. Your body is home to roughly 100 trillion “friendly” bacteria. Most of them reside inside your gut and they are essential to your health. How? Well, to name just a few: [7,8,9,10,11]
- Probiotics are essential in balancing and promoting healthy gut bacteria while also destroying harmful gut bacteria. Getting a gut microbiome back into balance results in multiple healthful benefits. It’s science—a balanced gut is a happy gut. Probiotics have the power to decrease gut health issues like constipation, diarrhea, gas, IBS, and other stomach issues.
- Did you know that 70 percent of the immune system is based inside the gut? Probiotics can add an extra level of support for your immune system to fight colds, infections, and viruses.
- The gut-brain axis is the communication system between the two. That means an imbalanced gut can affect cognitive processes, and things like mental health. Research shows that probiotics can improve symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety.
- Studies have shown that gut bacteria can play a role in metabolizing and extracting nutrients from the food you eat. When paired with a nutritious diet, Probiotics can help to create a positive environment in the gut.
Are probiotics safe?
Yes! Probiotics are generally considered to be safe. However, probiotics should never be used to replace prescribed medications or pills. If you have a pre-existing condition, take prescription medications, or have any medical concerns, please always consult your physician first before starting any new supplements.
Where can I find a reliable probiotic?
You can find one right here!
Our easy-to-take Probiotic Supplement is crafted with an advanced blend that uses 11 dynamic probiotic strains with 51 Billion CFUs for maximum efficacy so you can embrace a happy, healthy, and balanced life with ease.
Plus, we made sure to design a stripped-back, simple formula that is plant-based and free from dairy, GMOs, gluten, and soy - perfect for those with dietary restrictions -, and with delayed-release capsules for maximum nutrient absorption.
Looking for more ways to feel good every day? Click here to discover even more of nature’s best ingredients so you can start feeling your best!
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2012). Statistics from the National Health Interview Survey. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Retrieved from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/statistics-from-the-national-health-interview-survey
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2022). Office of dietary supplements - probiotics. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Probiotics-HealthProfessional/#:~:text=The%20seven%20core%20genera%20of,Enterococcus
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2022). Probiotics: What you need to know. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Retrieved from https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics-what-you-need-to-know
- Tompkins, T. A., Mainville, I., & Arcand, Y. (2011). The impact of meals on a probiotic during transit through a model of the human upper gastrointestinal tract. Beneficial microbes, 2(4), 295–303. https://doi.org/10.3920/BM2011.0022
- Ozen, M., & Dinleyici, E. C. (2015). The history of probiotics: the untold story. Beneficial microbes, 6(2), 159–165. https://doi.org/10.3920/BM2014.0103
- Xiang-Chen Meng, Lu-Ji Zhang Abdel Rahman Mohammad Al Tawaha, Lu-Ji Zhang, Rokayya Sami, Jia Fang-Fang, Zong-Tao Zhu, Abdelmotaal Heba, & Amro Abdelazez. (2018, January). Potential benefits of Lactobacillus plantarum as probiotic and its advantages in human health and industrial applications: A review. Research Gate. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Abdel-Rahman-Al-Tawaha
- Kim SK, Guevarra RB, Kim YT, Kwon J, Kim H, Cho JH, Kim HB, Lee JH. Role of Probiotics in Human Gut Microbiome-Associated Diseases. J. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 2019;29:1335-1340. https://doi.org/10.4014/jmb.1906.06064
- Singh, V. P., Sharma, J., Babu, S., Rizwanulla, & Singla, A. (2013). Role of probiotics in health and disease: a review. JPMA. The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association, 63(2), 253–257. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23894906/
- Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol., 15 January 2020, Sec. Microbiome in Health and Disease, How Probiotics Affect the Microbiota, https://doi.org/10.3389/fcimb.2019.00454
- Wilkins, T., & Sequoia, J. (2017). Probiotics for Gastrointestinal Conditions: A Summary of the Evidence. American family physician, 96(3), 170–178. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28762696/
- Zhang, C., Derrien, M., Levenez, F. et al. Ecological robustness of the gut microbiota in response to ingestion of transient food-borne microbes. ISME J 10, 2235–2245 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/ismej.2016.13