In our series on the gut microbiome, we explain what constitutes the gut microbiome, signs of compromise, what harms the beneficial bacteria, how to support the gut microbiome and digestive enzymes, indigestion & inflammation. Among the supplements that replenish the gut microbiome are probiotics, including live cultures and fermented foods; prebiotics, including resistant starches; and sporebiotics. In this article we discuss how to replenish the gut microbiome with probiotics.

Probiotics are Bacteria

 Probiotics are living microorganisms (microbes) that comprise the beneficial bacteria in the gut microbiome. They sustain our existence with their impacts on digestion, immunity, inflammation and more.

Probiotics in the Gut

Examples of probiotic bacteria in the gut microbiome include:

Lactobacillus strains, i.e. acidophilus, bulgarius, reuteri, plantarum
Bifidobacterium strains, i.e. bifidum, lactis, longum
Streptococcus thermophiles
Saccharomyces boulardii
Bacillus subtilis

Lactobacillus reside predominantly in the small intestine and upper GI tract. They metabolize carbohydrates and produce lactic acid, which may prevent harmful bacteria from colonizing the intestines. They also protect the integrity of gut lining, combating leaky gut.

Bifidobacteria reside in the large intestine or the lower bowel. They help modulate the gut microbiome, prevent inflammation, and protect from many diseases, including colorectal cancer, infections, inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, and depression. They produce antimicrobial chemicals that target harmful bacteria and pathogens. Learn more at: The Facts on Probiotic Bifidobacteria

Other probiotics in the gut microbiome may perform a variety of roles and aid in metabolizing foods, resisting pathogens and unhealthy bacteria, and boosting immunity.

Boost and Balance Your Gut Probiotics

A healthy balance of probiotics in your gut microbiome is essential for well-being. Aside from food sources, probiotics can be consumed as a supplement. Health professionals advise rotating/varying biotic intake, switching from one food source or formula to another to help diversify the gut microbiome.

Food Sources of Probiotics

Food sources like fermented foods and milks with live cultures provide beneficial probiotics. Subscribe to Dr. Axe to see 17 Great Probiotic Foods for Better Gut Health, including:

Apple cider vinegar
Raw milk

Note: Be careful as probiotic potencies can vary dramatically – and some of them have up to 35g of sugar!

Live Strains and Active Cultures

To be beneficial, probiotics must be live and active, not dead. When purchasing supplements, be sure to investigate product efficacy by way of product packaging, shipping and storage requirements; survivability through the stomach with its high acidity; and the resulting bioavailability of probiotics to seed in the lining of the intestines. Ensure live, active probiotic delivery to the gut lining.

There are many biotic formulas on the market and product efficacy can vary significantly.

Is Your Gut Lining Gunked-up?

While many formulas are clinically proven to survive stomach acidity and seed their microflora into the lining of the intestinal wall, this outcome can be significantly hindered if the intestinal lining is gunked up or competing with an overabundance of harmful bacteria already there. Please do not under-estimate the importance of such (common) conditions on the viability of the formula you choose.

Supplement Exposure to Heat

 While many pre/pro/spore biotics may not require refrigeration, excess heat, especially during storage and transit in hot summer months, may reduce/destroy them. Be conscientious about how they are stored and shipped to you.

Purchase Considerations

Tips from Dr. Mercola: “Factors to look for when trying to identify a high-quality probiotic supplement include the following:

Make sure it’s a reputable brand. If you trust the products made by a company, perhaps they’re doing a great job making their probiotics as well.
Look for a potency count (colony forming units or CFUs) of 50 billion or higher. That’s the number of bacteria being delivered per dose.
Declaration of shelf life, i.e. the shelf life of the CFUs. Avoid capsules that only declare the CFUs at time of manufacture.
Food products should be in resealable packaging and stored as directed.
Look for a product containing multiple species of bacteria, as high diversity tends to be associated with better health. That said, products containing species of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria are generally recommended.
Look for non-GMO brands.
Confirm that they’re manufactured according to current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP).”

Learn More

Help Support Your Immune System and Total Body Health With Probiotics


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This information is for educational purposes only and does not diagnose, treat or cure health conditions. It is not intended in any way to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner when seeking medical advice. Copyright © 2002- 2023 The Thermogram Center, Inc. All rights reserved.