Mar 31, 2016 11:30AM
By Nancy Smith
Ten years ago, no one could have guessed that medical science would now be studying the health benefits of live bacteria strains and microorganisms such as yeasts, or that researchers would tell us that our body is home to billions of bad, as well as good, bacteria that are beneficial to health. And none could have foreseen the marketing of countless commercial brands of dietary supplements containing live, active cultures of friendly bacteria known as probiotics.
Recommended for helping to boost the immune system and ease everything from irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease to antibiotic-associated diarrhea and even skin conditions such as eczema, as well as mood disorders such as depression, it is important to be knowledgeable about purchasing probiotics. To offer consumers clarity, Natural Awakenings checked with local health food stores and health professionals regarding effective shelf-stable probiotics, what’s the most important information on the label and which is better—refrigerated or non-refrigerated.
Take Probiotics Daily
One important fact that Dee Harris, a registered dietitian/nutritionist and owner of D-Signed Nutrition, in Bonita Springs, conveys to her patients when recommending probiotics is that microorganisms are transient visitors just passing through. “This is why probiotics or fermented foods must be taken daily. Reading the label on shelf-stable brands is important. We look for both potency and multi-strains on the label. We are learning that certain strains are targeted to do different things, so it is best to get advice from a professional. But generally, look for a multi-strain species with at least 10 billion CFUs,” notes Harris.
While she doesn’t believe there is a right or wrong answer in the controversy over shelf-stable or refrigerated, she does advise that there are benefits to individualized unrefrigerated packets are better. “Keeping air and moisture out helps to keep them sterile and potent. Even if you buy shelf-stable in a bottle, it’s best to store them in the refrigerator, where they are less susceptible to contamination. The individually packaged non-refrigerated probiotic by Xymogen that we carry in our office is easier to travel with,” says Harris. She suggests Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotics or Renew Life Ultimate Flora Probiotics, both with 50 billion CFUs, for patients that want the convenience of ordering online or over the counter.
Bargain Brands Aren’t Bargains
Consumers should expect on average to pay $10 to $12 for every 10 billion CFUs. “Cheap brands are bargains because they generally have far less CFUs and/or fewer strains,” says Harris.
“When my daughter-in-law had a caesarean-section birth, I gave my grandchildren one-quarter teaspoon of powdered probiotics every day,” says Harris, who emphasizes that parents should read labels to be sure that powdered or chewable probiotics have no added sugar, sugar substitutes such as sucrose, GMOs, gluten, soy or alcohol.She notes that the powdered form Garden of Life Raw Probiotics for Kids is reliable.
Dr. Brian Thornburg, a board-certified concierge pediatrician in Naples, recommends probiotics for all babies fresh from the womb, particularly those born via caesarean section. He cites a 2015 article in Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics to emphasize the importance of giving probiotics to infants. “Researchers were able to prove that probiotic supplementation given to infants in their first month was able to affect immunologic responses to environmental exposures by supporting healthy gut microbiota, and could therefore be used to prevent the development of Type 1 Diabetes among children at increased genetic risk. In other words, they proved that an unhealthy gut microbiome is capable of activating genes. Shelf-stable powdered probiotics, consisting of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria, can be sprinkled on the mother’s nipple or mixed with formula,” says Thornburg, who recommends Ther-Biotic Probiotics by Klaire Labs, which can be purchased through a physician and online
Trusted Shelf-Stable Probiotics
Knowledgeable experts at health food stores such as Food & Thought, Sunshine Discount Vitamins and Genesis Non-GMO Vitamins, in Naples, as well as Ada’s Natural Market ,in Fort Myers, are in agreement with Harris and Thornburg regarding the most trusted brands of shelf-stable probiotics, which they recommend.
Ada’s Natural Market, 7070 College Pkwy., Fort Myers; 239-939-9600. AdasMarket.com.
D-Signed Nutrition, Bonita Bay Executive Center, 3531 Bonita Bay Blvd., Ste. 300, Bonita Springs. 239-676-5249. D-SignedNutrition.com.
Food & Thought, 2132 Tamami Tr. N., Naples. 239-213-2222. FoodAndThought.com.
Genesis Non-GMO Vitamins, 877 91st Ave. N., Ste. 4, Naples. 239-596-9017. GenesisNonGMO.com.
Sunshine Discount Vitamins, 2608 Tamiami Trl. N., Naples; 239-436-6659. Vitamin-Discounts.com.
Thornburg Pediatrics, 5500 Bryson Dr., Ste. 301, Naples. 239-348-7337. ThornburgPediatrics.com.