Good bacteria living in your gut could be one of the keys to good health. Researchers are finding that this "friendly bacteria", known as probiotic bacteria, helps to not only stimulate digestive health, but also a healthy immune system. The question is, in a loosely regulated industry, how difficult is it to find trusted brands?
Studies that tested probiotic supplements on market shelves found 95 of 106 products failed to provide viable bacterial counts when compared to labels. That's only a 10 per cent passing grade.
Such discrepancies red flag the importance in finding a manufacturer whose bacterial contents validate label statements, and whose testing and production processes guarantees live delivery past stomach acids into the large intestine.
Cursory research identifies six separate studies that found 90 per cent of probiotic samples tested did not have viable bacterial counts as mentioned on the labels. Three of the studies involved foreign-made products that may also be marketed in the United States, which indicates a potential international quality issue for probiotic supplements.
One small study by Pankaj et al 2018 (1) found all three samples tested did not have uniform counts. These results were in agreement with some of the previously done studies.. In a study by Elliot, et al (2) only three out of nine tested probiotic supplements from South Africa were found to be containing the same bacteria as mentioned on the label, while studies by Berman, et all (3 and Temmerman, et al (4) found only one in twenty and six of fifty five of the different probiotic supplements tested to be consistent with the product label, respectively.
In the fifth study, Patrone, et al (5) analyzed five probiotics and found all five had bacterial species and counts that varied from brand labels. And in the sixth study, Marcobal, et al tested 14 commercial probiotics and found that only one contained the exact species stated on the label.(6)
Some probiotics experts in the U.S. blame a lack of regulation as the root of a quality problem that shadows the dietary supplement industry:
It should be noted that good bacteria products taken by mouth as dietary supplements are manufactured and regulated as foods, not drugs. Foods are not controlled as rigidly as drugs
Lack of rigidity in testing and processing is at the core of the problem in producing quality probiotic supplements or any other dietary supplements. .
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the enforcement arm of the current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) rules for dietary supplement makers. These guidelines are often characterized by health officials and industry watchdogs as "too weak" and "lacking teeth" to ensure safety, quality and efficacy.
Of particular concern is a lack of standardized testing protocols for an industry where performing "a single test" satisfies the manufacturer's requirements. Some companies don't test at all, according to the FDA..
Unlike the pharmaceutical industry, there is also no requirement that a dietary supplement maker prove product efficacy or conduct clinical studies of any kind. The FDA does not approve or even examine the product before it's marketed.(7)
The result: The quality of good bacteria supplements or gout supplements, for example, can vary widely from one manufacturer to another.(8)
Good bacteria (probiotic) supplements are dietary supplements of live "good bacteria" or yeasts thought to be healthy for the host organism. By definition, probiotics are live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the intestinal host. Note that foods that contain probiotic bacteria are also often referred to as probiotics (e.g. yogurt) but they succumb to acid while still in the stomach.
A quality probiotic supplement delivers guaranteed live probiotics (good bacteria) through the stomach into the intestine where they promote colon health by supporting the growth of healthy microflora naturally found in the colon.
To supply live probiotics to their intended target, the supplement must be uniquely designed in a capsule that is tested to withstand stomach acid. Also the product must allow for much greater attachment and growth rate of the friendly (healthy) bacteria in order to minimize the growth of harmful bacteria.
Medical researchers are finding that one of the keys to good health could be tied directly to the good bacteria living in our guts – specifically, in the world of microbes that live in our digestive tracts.
Historically, until about 2001, probiotics were considered only within the realm of complementary and alternative medicine. As understanding of the immune system and how it works has expanded, so has the understanding of the importance of probiotics and probiotic microbes in the gastrointestinal tract in regulating the immune system.
One of the country's leading researchers into the world of probiotics is Gary Huffnagle, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan Health System, a professor of internal medicine and microbiology and immunology. He has published more than 90 articles about microbes and the immune system in peer-reviewed scientific journals, academic reviews and textbooks. He is the co-author of The Probiotics Revolution: The Definitive Guide to Safe, Natural Health Solutions Using Probiotic and Prebiotic Foods and Supplements.
Huffnagle's research documents the key role of good bacteria probiotics and prebiotics in restoring healthy balance to our bodies, improving immune system functioning, and curbing inflammation.
He advocates the use of probiotic foods and supplements to prevent and relieve allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, yeast infections, and the negative side effects of antibiotic use.
He presents new evidence that probiotics may help fight asthma, cardiovascular disease, breast and colon cancer, autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, gout, etc), chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia—and even obesity (a factor in joint pain and overall health).
“We’re now finding that eliminating all the good microbes from our body results in a weaker immune system, which we believe is leading to problems such as increased incidence of chronic disease, including allergies like asthma,” Huffnagle says. “Once you take antibiotics as your physician prescribed, follow it with some form of probiotic supplement to get the microflora in your gut back to where it should be. Your recovery and your health will be much greater.”
Since probiotic microbes do not cause disease, there’s no such thing as having too much of them.
Huffnagle says that until we are born, we are completely sterile of microbes. Once outside the womb, we are bombarded by microbes and soon we have 10 times more microbes in our body than the number of cells that make up the human body.
"Today, the world of probiotics is emerging on the cutting-edge of mainstream medicine," Huffnagle says.
It is the bad microbes that cause disease. Good microbes work with the body’s immune system to keep the bad microbes at bay by crowding them out. In the symbiotic relationship between good and bad microbes, recent research has uncovered the importance of these good microbes.
“The good microbes – and this is where probiotics come in – keep the bad microbes in small numbers. But they also stimulate the immune system and improve our digestive function. That’s the subject of research that has been going on for years,” Huffnagle says.
The adult gut contains over 40 trillion bacteria. Everyday factors such as stress or diet can decrease the number of "good" bacteria. Probiotics are live bacteria that are good for your digestive system. Probiotics are often called "good" or "helpful" bacteria because they help keep a healthy gut. They are found in a number of foods that are readily available in the supermarket, and they taste good.
One can support probiotic growth by increasing the amount of cultured dairy products, such as cheeses and yogurt, and the foods that encourage probiotics from these dairy products to multiply even further: spices, tea, red wine, berries, apples and beans.
Huffnagle says that most of these good microbes exist within our body in the digestive tract, with the largest number occurring in the small and large intestines.
“It’s the job of these good microbes to stimulate our immune system, and the other job they do is to stimulate good digestive health,” he says.
Good bacteria foods are helpful, but some are mitigated by stomach acid before they reach the intestines. Fermented foods like yogurt, miso, sauerkraut and others can make it through the gastric acid to the colon
We inadvertently kill off the good microbes in our body with antibiotics. Since antibiotics are necessary for killing the bad microbes that cause some diseases, they are important for helping to keep people healthy. However, the side effect to taking antibiotics is the elimination of the good bacteria (microbes) within our body along with the bad ones.
Huffnagle says that antibiotics are important for fighting disease and should always be taken according to physician recommendations.
His research focuses on one of the greatest unknown questions about probiotics: How do they work?
"We are examining how microbes in the gut communicate with the immune system. Many diseases have an immunologic basis, so we want to understand the good communication that goes on between the microbes and the immune system," he says.
Another emerging topic of research examines a possible link between good bacteria probiotics and obesity, and a number of researchers around the country are starting to look at this connection.
"We should have known that probiotics and the gut microflora play a role in metabolism " it's a connection that's been known in the agriculture industry for years," Huffnagle says.
"Agriculture experts quickly noted that sick livestock gained weight when dosed with antibiotics, leading to the industry practice of routinely rotating various low-dose antibiotics in livestock feed. Huffnagle says the antibiotics actually change the metabolism of the animals, creating something called 'enhanced feed efficiency'", an improved ability to retain fat.
"We take the antibiotics to recover from a microbial illness, but the trade-off is that fat we eat may be staying with us instead of being metabolized and converted to energy," Huffnagle says.
Here are three things that will help optimize your good bacteria balance:
It is of utmost importance to choose a manufacturer of good bacteria probiotic supplements carefully. Find a company that has a large staff of scientists and voluntarily does clinical studies and pre-market testing on its products to ensure their efficacy.
Natural supplements are available for sale for many conditions based on tradition, anecdotes, or marketing, but not all of these uses are supported by reliable or credible scientific research.
A list of 30 questions questions has been prepared by our website to help with the process of how to choose the best dietary supplement company.
The manufacturer of our featured good bacteria supplement is the #1 natural nutrition company in the U.S., founded in 1956. They are a pioneer in the industry, recognized for their science approach to creating the best possible products on the market.
Their nutritional products are all clinically tested for efficacy, which is not an industry requirement. Their 'beyond organic' philosophy verifies purity and safety by screening for over 350 contaminants, pesticides, and impurities on every new botanical (three times more than the U.S. Pharmacopeia standards). In addition, they conduct over 100,000 quality tests per year to guarantee that the final finished product is free of hundreds of chemical contaminants.
Their commitment to science goes into every product, which is of utmost importance when formulating and manufacturing a probiotic supplement
Most probiotic supplements contain good bacteria similar to those naturally found in people's guts, especially in those of breastfed infants (who have natural protection against many diseases).
Most often, the bacteria come from two groups, Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium. Within each group, there are different species (for example, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium lactis [the hero and primary strain in our featured good bacteria supplement]) and within each species, different strains (or varieties).
In studies, Bifidobacterium lactis has made the immune system more robust by providing high performance in the gut.
Supplements containing good bacteria help maintain healthy intestinal microbial balance. The term literally means “healthful for life,” and today, probiotics has a broader definition: a live microbial supplement which beneficially affects the host by improving its microbial balance.
This website was created to help people with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and related disorders, such as gout, to learn about natural treatments to ease symptoms and improve overall health. For gout, a healthy colon supported by the growth of healthy microflora naturally found in the colon is an important gout consideration.
After extensively researching probiotic supplements as a treatment option for many types of arthritis we have discovered two probiotic and one prebiotic supplements that delivers live optimum flora that we’ve had tremendous success with.
The featured probiotic supplement delivers unique benefits via a proprietary formula with 10 billion CFUs with four bacterial strains, including the previously-mentioned powerhouse Bifidobacterium lactis™ Other features:
It's scientists believe the digestive and immune enhanced blend of 10 billion CFUs is a special perfect level studied by clinical research. :
Prebiotic supplements are important to:
Our recommendation is for this prebiotic supplement
The featured manufacturer also makes a two-product system consisting of the above prebiotic combined with a 500 million pearl-sized probiotic (tiny size, great starter for kids or as a minimum base probiotic for healthy adults). Twenty years ago the featured manufacturer's scientists led the way in developing a triple coating for the pearl probiotic to survive stomach acid.
Each probiotics supplement is available with the prebiotic, or can be purchased as an individual probiotic.
Try one or more of the above probiotic supplements and see if these natural, safe treatments work for you.
1. Pankaj Y, et al, Content Analysis of Commerically Available Probiotics, Ind Pediatr, vol 55; April 15, 2018, P344-345
2. Elliot E, Teversham K. An evaluation of nine probiotics available in South Africa. S Afr Med J. August 2004;94:121-4.
3. Berman S, Spicer D. Safety and reliability of lactobacillus supplements in seattle, Washington (a pilot study). International J Alternative Med. 2003;1:2.
4. Temmerman R, Pot B, Huys G, Swings J. Identification and antibiotic susceptibility of bacterial isolates from probiotic products. Int J Food Microbiol. 2003;81:1-10.
5. Patrone V, Molinari P, Morelli L. Microbiological and molecular characterization of commercially available probiotics containing Bacillus clausii from India and Pakistan. Int J Food Microbiol. 2016;237:92-7.
6. Marcobal A, Underwood MA, Mills DA; Rapid determination of the bacterial composition of commercial probiotic products by terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis; Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr, 2008, May; 46(5):608-11. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e3181660694
7. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Online website Dietary Supplements. Accessed March 7, 2019. https://www.fda.gov/Food/DietarySupplements/
8. https://www.newsday.com/news/health/fda-official-70-of-supplement-companies-violate-agency-rules-1.5920525 Ricks, D, Newsday, NewsHealth, FDA Official: 70% of supplement companies violate agency rules. 2013, Aug 23
Good Bacteria Disclaimer: Health statements on this good bacteria page have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.