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What makes a High-Quality Probiotic Formula?
Contributed by Master Supplements

Probiotics are the first gifts from a mother as her infant passes through the birth canal. Breast-feeding further colonizes the infant with beneficial bacteria and provides the probiotic fingerprint, which is dependant on the mother's diet and gastrointestinal status. These bacterial microflora are so critical to our health and survival, that without their presence, every aspect of our health would suffer.

Stress, ingested items, and poor diet choices affect the gastrointestinal tract and alter the bacterial environment, allowing different opportunistic organisms to take the place of the beneficial organisms. PRO- (the opposite of ANTI-) biotics are Mother Nature's way of providing health benefits and a healthy gastrointestinal (GI) immune system. The immune system of the GI tract lies in the mucosal layer. Probiotics stimulate this immune system to send activation signals to the systemic immune system throughout the entire body. Lactobacillus rhamnosus and two strains of bifidobacterium are specifically known to stimulate macrophage and natural killer cells of the systemic immune system to fight viruses and bacteria. Probiotics also help manufacture nutrients, such as B vitamins, folic acid, and vitamin K. Additionally, they help in the absorption of essential minerals including calcium, copper, iron, and magnesium.

How can you determine if a probiotic is high-quality? The first thing to examine is the packaging. It should be an amber glass bottle, with totally inert packaging. It should be refrigerated to preserve the life of these freeze-dried bacteria. Moisture, heat, and light can kill probiotic bacteria in a package that lacks protection.

Look for well-studied organisms that have efficacy in humans and are not merely cheese-culturing bacteria of the genera Lactobacillus. Theralac contains a well-documented strain of acidophilus known as LA-1 or NCFM, as well as four other researched strains of probiotics. Be sure the product guarantees its CFU (colony forming units) potency at the expiration date, NOT at the date of manufacture. Ten billion CFU is a minimal quantity to have any effect. Theralac has 30 billion CFU.

Gastric acid can destroy probiotics, so it is vital that the capsules are protected. Typically, manufacturers use enteric coating, which works well for aspirin, but it is not ideal for probiotics. If the enteric coating is keeping stomach acid out, then it is keeping metabolic toxins in. An alternative to enteric coating is a technology used in Theralac that includes sodium alginate and grape skin extract, which create a buffered gel in the stomach and guarantees live delivery through the acid.

Multi-strain is also important, and all strains should all be compatible; for example, Lactobacillus salivarius is somewhat antagonistic to Bifidobacteria sp. A sufficient quantity of each probiotic strain is required to be effective, so keep in mind that a capsule only holds so much material (typically 450-500 mg). When there are too many species in a formula, it can mean there is not enough of any one to make a difference. Be wary of "proprietary formulas" since it is possible that there is much more of the less expensive ingredient, and less of the more expensive (and effective) bacteria.

Prebiotics are a good addition to help support the growth and reproduction of probiotic bacteria. One well-known prebiotic is FOS, which is effective, but for some people, it generates gas and causes bloating. Another downside is that several grams of FOS are needed to be effective and that quantity cannot fit in a standard 500 mg capsule. A better form of prebiotic is partially-hydrolyzed guar gum (PHGG), which is much more specific to organisms such as bifidobacteria that produce an enzyme called inulinase. Typically, PHGG is found in stand-alone products, such as BioActive TruFiber, rather than as an ingredient in a capsule form of probiotics.

A great feature about Theralac is that it does not need to be taken daily. The dosage is one capsule daily for two weeks followed by two capsules per week thereafter. One bottle lasts 10 weeks on this standard dose program. Dr. Russell Blaylock, a nationally-recognized board-certified neurosugeon, author, and editor of The Blaylock Wellness Report, offers an unsolicited endorsement of Theralac because he found it to be so effective. He writes "I have found one probiotic supplement that seems to meet all the requirements for a good probiotic. And that is Theralac."

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