The human body’s gut microbiome is a delicate environment where various types of bacteria fight for dominance. While many assume that all bacteria is bad, there are actually many beneficial strains of bacteria and yeasts known as probiotics that consistently attempt to promote optimal digestive health. These probiotics can naturally promote a healthy gut microbiome by asserting their dominance over the many different types of harmful bacteria that can enter the body. Considering that 70 to 80 percent of the body’s immune cells reside in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, probiotics also have the potential to support overall wellness in ways that go beyond digestive health.
In addition to being found in the body, probiotics can also be provided to the body through dietary sources. Certain dairy products and fermented foods, in particular, have been recognized as rich sources of probiotics. While it is possible to obtain certain probiotics from common food sources, it can be difficult to provide the body with a full range of various probiotics and the unique benefits they could potentially offer to the body. Fortunately, the nutraceutical industry offers a variety of products that can provide the body with specific probiotics that have been recognized for their unique contributions to gut health and whole body health.
Best Food Sources for Probiotics
Yogurt is probably the food that is most commonly associated with probiotics, but there is a wide variety of additional dairy and fermented food sources that have been recognized for their probiotic properties. Some of the most probiotic-rich foods include:
- Traditional (uncultured) buttermilk
- Kombucha (fermented green or black tea)
- Pickles (fermented cucumbers)
- Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage)
- Kimchi (fermented cabbage and other vegetables)
- Tempeh (fermented soybean)
- Natto (fermented soybean)
- Miso (fermented soybean)
- Kefir (fermented milk)
- Certain types of cheese (including cottage, mozzarella, cheddar and gouda)
Which Probiotic Strains Best Support Whole Body Health?
Probiotics can be categorized into a plethora of strains, genuses, species and subspecies. Some of the most common and effective probiotics that can be found in food sources and nutraceutical products include:
Lactobacilli come from a family of rod-shaped bacteria and are the most abundant genus of probiotics found in the body. Probiotics in the Lactobacillus family can be found in the mouth and vagina as well as the GI tract, and they all have the ability to produce lactic acid. Within the Lactobacillus genus, there is also a wide variety of unique strains.
Lactobacillus acidophilus is a common probiotic in nutraceutical products, and it has been recognized for its ability to address certain symptoms and health conditions, including yeast infections, constipation, urinary tract infections (UTIs), vaginal inflammation and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Lactobacillus plantarum probiotics can be obtained from additional food sources like brined olives and tofu. Probiotics in this strain have long been used to address a wide range of conditions and and symptoms that include cardiovascular disease, anxiety, depression, inflammation and sleep loss, in addition to GI-related symptoms and conditions.
Probiotics in the Lactobacillus casei strain can also support both optimal comfort and function in the GI tract. Probiotics in this strain have also been recognized for their ability to address a variety of other symptoms and conditions that include acne, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and infections to the vagina and urinary tract.
Lactobacillus salivarius probiotics have been known to promote optimal dental and oral health in addition to supporting proper GI function.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus is a genus of probiotics that have been recognized for their ability to address allergies, manage appetite, promote optimal cardiovascular function and support proper dental health in addition to providing the body with effective GI support.
Bifidobacteria probiotics are y-shaped and only make up less than ten percent of the total bacteria in the average adult gut microbiome. Despite their lack of abundance, Bifidobacteria are critical to the carbohydrate metabolism process.
Bifidobacterium bifidum probiotics have been recognized for their ability to address lung infections and help manage both HDL and LDL cholesterol levels in addition to providing GI support.
Probiotics in the Bifidobacterium breve strain are loaded with enzymes that can help the body break down starches and sugars like lactose.
In addition to supporting optimal GI function, Bifidobacterium longum probiotics have been recognized as potent antioxidants that can support optimal whole body health by addressing oxidative stress and damage.
Streptococcus thermophilus is commonly used as a fermented starter in dairy production processes such as culturing for yogurt and cheese. This probiotic is even less abundant in the body than Bifidobacteria and can usually be found in the colon. This strain is known especially for its durability as it can withstand higher temperatures than other strains of probiotics. In addition to supporting optimal GI function, Streptococcus thermophilus has been recognized for its ability to support healthy cardiovascular function, reduce the risk of kidney stones and address upper respiratory infections.
Supporting Optimal Immune Function Through a Balanced Gut Microbiome
With a majority of the immune system residing in the GI tract, probiotics have the potential to enhance immune function by providing balance to the gut microbiome.
Certain probiotics also provide additional GI support through other pathways. Lactobacillus salivarius has been recognized for its ability to help prevent strep throat, while Lactobacillus rhamnosus has been known to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs). Meanwhile, Streptococcus thermophilus can help maintain a healthy GI tract by decreasing leaky gut symptoms and enhancing lactose digestion.
Today, the nutraceutical industry offers a wide range of nutraceutical products that have been expertly developed to provide the body with specific probiotics that have the ability to support both optimal GI and immune function. Active Probiotic ND is a professional grade nutraceutical product that has been packed with carefully-selected probiotic strains like Lactobacilli, Bifidobacteria and Streptococcus thermophilus to help overpower harmful bacteria and establish a balanced gut microbiome. Active Probiotic ND also contains prebiotics, which can be a source of food and energy for probiotics. Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are a type of organic carbohydrates with prebiotic properties that have the potential to enhance the function and proliferation of beneficial bacteria. With these potent, targeted nutrients, Active Probiotic ND could help support optimal whole body and gut health.