Beyond multivitamins: Probiotics

Beyond multivitamins: Probiotics

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Probiotics may play a role in maintaining healthy weight, preventing autoimmune diseases, keeping your skin healthy, and preventing some intestinal disease.

Photos courtesy of Ben Sutherland, Diego, Meal Makeover Moms, Stacy Spensley/flickr

SAN DIEGO, February 3, 2015 — Probiotics are “friendly” microorganisms which are similar to those naturally living in the human body.

The trillions of friendly bacteria which exist in and on the human body are those bacteria our bodies depend on to help digest our food, produce some vitamins we depend on, maintain the health of our skin, inhibit the growth of bacterial pathogens, and numerous other tasks in the human microbiome. The word “probiotic” is derived from the Latin “pro,” meaning for, and “biota,” meaning life.

Probiotic literally means “for life.”

According to Harvard Health Publications, probiotics are widely found in foods and beverages consumed by Northern Europeans and Japanese.

Consuming foods containing probiotics has historically been less of a priority in the United States, though it is now gaining in popularity.

Foods like yogurt, kefir, miso, fermented cheeses and vegetables are some of the more widely known and consumed foods containing probiotics.

Photo courtesy of John Fischer/flickr
Photo courtesy of John Fischer/flickr

While there is a growing variety of foods that naturally contain probiotics, supplementation might be necessary to ensure the appropriate mix of intestinal flora to provide adequate prevention of certain diseases and boost immune response. They may also help reestablish healthy intestinal flora after a course of antibiotics.

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The American Gastroenterological Association says that probiotics are potentially helpful for addressing some of the following health disorders:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Infectious diarrhea
  • Antibiotic-related diarrhea
  • Traveler’s diarrhea
  • Maintaining oral health
  • Promoting urinary tract health

It is difficult to determine which dosage of probiotics is right to take, but many experts suggest that an average adult take 15-20 billion bacterial cells each day as an aide to hindering specific disease processes, and as a preventive measure for fostering overall good health.

The Healthy Home Economist suggests that a combination of the more popular bacterial strains could be most helpful if contained in a daily supplement:

  • Bacillus subtilis
  • Bifidobacterium strains
  • Lactobacillus strains
  • Streptoccocus thermophilus
  • Lactoccoccus bacteria

When taken for the first time, probiotic supplements may cause temporary symptoms such as bloating or headaches as they replace harmful gut bacteria with health-promoting microorganisms.

Discuss the possible need for including probiotics in a daily healthcare regime with a qualified healthcare professional.

Choosing a probiotic supplement might at first seem daunting. Selecting well-known brands from a Whole Foods Market, General Nutrition Store (GNC), the Vitamin Shoppe, and other reputable dealers will go a long way towards helping you make a good decision.

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It may also be advisable to choose a probiotic supplement which requires no refrigeration.

Carefully check expiration dates on any probiotic supplement container. Thoroughly read labels for method of human absorption, while also paying attention to disclosures for known allergens, dosages and the number of microorganisms to be consumed.

Which probiotic supplements are ranked the highest? has ranked their choice for the Top Five probiotics, which were scientifically tested for quality and value.

Highest Quality (“A” Ranking):

  • Renew Life Ultimate Flora Critical Care
  • NOW Foods Probiotic 10
  • Healthy Origins Probiotic
  • Dr. Mercola Complete Probiotics
  • Nutrition NOW PB8

Best value:

  • Nutrition NOW PB8
  • TruNature Digestive Probiotic
  • NOW Foods Probiotic 10
  • Healthy Origins Probiotic
  • Jarrow Formulas, Jarro-Dophilus EPS

Eating naturally probiotic-rich foods is always ideal, but may not always be realistic for optimal consumption of helpful microorganisms. Hence, probiotic supplements taken daily via supplements containing billions of bacterial cells could help ensure digestive health.

For building a healthy immune system and for disease prevention, a daily probiotic just might go a long way towards helping achieve such goals.

Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!

Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is a health care provider of over 30 years. As a featured “Communities Digital News” columnist, LifeCycles with Laurie Edwards-Tate emphasizes healthy aging and maintaining independence, while delighting and informing its readers. Laurie is a recognized expert in home and community-based, long-term care services, and is also an educator.

In addition to writing for “Communities Digital News,” Laurie is the President and CEO of her firm, At Your Home Familycare, which serves persons of all ages who are disabled and infirm with a variety of non-medical, in-home care and concierge services.

Copyright © 2015 by At Your Home Familycare

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Laurie Edwards-Tate
Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, President and Founder of At Your Home Familycare in San Diego, California, was among the first to recognize the growing need for services allowing individuals to remain independent created by the aging of America including the Baby Boomer generation, now being called the “Silver Tsunami.” It is the Baby Boomers who are rapidly redefining what aging and growing older means and looks like in America today. Now celebrating its 28th year in business, AYHF is among San Diego County’s Top Women-Owned Businesses and Fastest Growing Businesses, and enjoys a reputation for upholding the highest possible standards among its employees and its emphasis on customer service. Edwards-Tate is a valued contributor to the public dialogue on current issues and challenges in the home care industry, and serves in leadership roles on the Home Care Aide Association of America Advisory Board and Private Duty Home Care Association Advisory Board, as well as the Home Care Aide Steering Committee of the California Association for Health Services at Home. Edwards-Tate is frequently interviewed in the media on healthy aging, caregiving, and health care topics. Follow Laurie and AYHF at; on Facebook at, and Twitter at @AYHFamilycare