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Ask the Wellness Educator
The NEEDS Wellness Team

Q: Dear Wellness Team,

I've heard that different probiotic cultures enhance different functions in the body. Where can I get a complete list of the different positive effects of various cultures?

Sincerely, D.O., New York

A: Dear Doreen, You are absolutely correct; different probiotic cultures have different specialties. There are many different strains of the "good" bacteria with many different functions, and many of them overlap..

There are literally hundreds of different bacteria, but only a few handfuls are commonly found in supplements. Probiotic supplementation is necessary for much of the American population for a variety of reasons, such as poor dietary habits, overuse of antibiotics, and exposure to environmental toxins and chemicals which alter the intestinal flora.

The two main categories of probiotics are acidophilus and bifidobacteria. They are considered the "good" bacteria of the intestinal tract, and serve many functions, including balancing the immune system of the intestinal tract and preventing pathogens from taking hold and causing illness. They can help alleviate constipation and strengthen the mucosal barrier to prevent leaky gut. In general, Bifidobacterium species are the first to colonize the GI tract during the birthing process. Lactobacillus strains tend to be hardy and somewhat more acidresistant.

In both categories, each unique strain has specific strengths. Lactobacillus rhamnosus supports both the innate and acquired immunity, and suppresses chemicals that induce inflammation. Lactobacillus plantarum helps kill C. difficile infections, which can be tolerant to even antibiotics.

Bifidobacterium longum is the most abundant of its species and can help prevent E. coli infection. Bifidobacterium breve stimulates the Peyer's patches of the intestinal immune system, and helps prevents intestinal infection.

Saccharomyces boulardii is a hardy, non-pathogenic yeast that is found in the GI which doesn't fit in either the acidophilus or bifidobacteria category. However, it is an excellent choice for fighting an intestinal infection and it does a great job of enhancing the intestinal barrier.

Natur-Tyme 35 Billion Probiotic offers strains which are stabilized using a patented poly matrix system (patent# 6,653,062) that provides 35 Billion CFU through expiration date when stored at room temperature. Each Bio-Enhanced Acid Resistant Strain (BEARS) has been specifically designed to survive stomach acid secretions during digestion eliminating the needs for eneteric coating. Each ultra high probiotic capsule contains a minimum of 35 billion CFU per serving. This eight-strain proprietary blend supports and nurtures good intestinal flora for a healthy digestive system.

Jarrow Saccharomyces Boulardii + MOS contains the probiotic yeast, Saccharomyces Boulardii, which survives passage through stomach acid and delivers its benefits to the intestinal tract. This strain helps protect and maintain a normal intestinal microflora. It also works to restore the normal intestinal microflora when possible disruptions may occur, such as, during travel or the intake of certain medications. MOS (MannanOligoSaccharides) is an oligosaccharide from the cell walls of S. cerevisiae that can discourage bacteria from adhering to the epithelial cells and reduce their proliferation.

Probiotic supplementation is generally safe for almost everyone, as long as the product is made properly and is not contaminated. The NEEDS Wellness Team recommends choosing a high-quality probiotic manufactured by a reputable vendor. Most, but not all formulas require refrigeration to extend the viability of the cultures. It is also helpful to switch brands once or twice a year, to gain the benefits of different strains made by different manufacturers.

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