The various bacteria that live in our gut are some of the most overlooked aspects of good health.
We often neglect them, or worse, do things that send them off balance. The result is a host of ailments ranging from chronic constipation to a compromised immune system.
Fortunately, there are probiotics available. Alternatives to multivitamins, these healthy drinks and supplements are chock full of healthy microorganisms that lead to better microbiota health.
However, drinking the right strains of bacteria is just as important, if not more than choosing to take them in the first place. That’s why we’re going to discuss all probiotics today and how you should pick the right one. We’ll then give our recommendations to get you started!
Best Probiotic in the UK
|Bio-Cultures Multi-Strain Capsules||Capsule||180||4.9|
|Garden of Life Raw Probiotics||Capsule||30||4.6|
|Florastor Maximum Strength Probiotic||Capsule||100||4.7|
|Symprove Probiotic Liquid Supplement||Liquid||28||4.5|
|Nature's Aid Kidz Pro-5||Powder||22-45||4.7|
|BeLive Probiotic Gummy||Gummy||35||4.9|
- Format: Capsule
- CFU: 10 billion
- Strains: 5
- L. Acidophilus
- S. Thermophilus
- L. Rhamnosus
- L. Salivarious
- B. Bifidum
- Total Doses: 180 capsules
Bio-Cultures is a good, all-around probiotic that helps maintain fantastic digestive health. It’s a blend of 5 bacterial strains chosen for maximum health benefits, including both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species.
This probiotic offers fantastic value with a full 6-month supply per bottle. You simply take one tablet in the morning, and you’re good to go. It’s great as general relief for both constipation and diarrhoea and will help to promote regular bowel movements. From what we have seen from the reviews of some people, this has helped them in a variety of health problems from nausea to even sleeping better.
Bio-Cultures is also great for those who suffer from allergies, as it is both lactose-free and gluten-free. These people have always had trouble getting probiotics from things like yoghurt, but this capsule will eliminate that problem. The CFU of 10 billion is perfect for general doses meant for maintaining health.
The manufacturer has a generally good safety record and adheres to best practices. It’s also vegan and GMO-free.
But what we like most about this is the price. At around 10p per capsule, it’s one of the more cost-effective solutions out there. If you want to give probiotics a try and see how it will affect your health, Bio-Cultures is a good, affordable place to start.
- Affordable price per capsule; one of the most cost-effective probiotics
- 10 billion CFU
- Includes 5 of the commonly beneficial strains
Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
- Format: Capsule
- CFU: 40 billion
- Strains: 15
- Lactobacillus: L. acidophilus-LA85, L. rhamnosus-LRa05, L. plantarum -LP90, L. casei-LC89, L. lactis-BL99, L. reuteri -LR08, L. brevis -BBr60, L. bulgaricus –LB2, L. salivarius -LS97, L. helveticus -LH76
- Streptococcus: S. thermophilus-ST81
- Bifidobacterium: B. bifidum-BBi32, B. breve-BBr60, B. longum-BL21, B. lactis -BLa80
- Total Doses: 60 capsules
Bio-Culture Complex is a premium version of their everyday Bio-Culture Multi-Strain Capsule. The difference is in the dosage which now offers 40 billion CFUs, with a proprietary blend using 15 different bacterial strains. They all work in synergy together to promote digestive, as well as overall health.
As with their other products, the Bio-Culture Complex uses high-quality production processes. It uses a high-quality formula which is free from GMO and any other preservatives and additives. It also contains no lactose or gluten, so is great for those suffering from allergies.
This is a stronger probiotic that’s meant to alleviate more severe chronic issues such as eczema and acid reflux. If you’re using a probiotic and it’s not solving the problem, it may be worthwhile to switch to something more potent like this.
Despite this, the price isn’t at all bad. It may be up to 3x the cost of their original Bio-Culture variant, but it’s still reasonably priced once you compare it with other similar probiotics.
- Reasonable price (30p) per capsule
- 40 billion CFU
- Includes 15 strains for maximum effect
Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
- Format: Capsule
- CFU: 50 billion
- Strains: 33, with Bifidobacterium as the primary strain
- Total Doses: 30 capsules
Garden of Life is one of the more well-known raw food manufacturers in the market. This Raw Probiotics line is made specifically to support the health of your colon. It’s the perfect long term cure for those suffering from chronic constipation.
It uses a proprietary blend of 33 probiotics, with Bifidobacterium as one of the major strains in the blend. It contains up to 50 billion CFUs, which is potent, to say the least. The 30 capsule content might seem limiting, but it’s only because you’ll feel the benefits within a month or so.
In addition to constipation, this probiotic is also great for relieving irritable bowel syndrome and its symptoms like acid reflux and bloating with most people reporting that it is pretty effective.
The only drawback with Raw Probiotics is the higher cost. It’s almost 1 pound per capsule, which is a bit expensive as far as probiotics go. If you’re just after maintaining your gut health, there might be less expensive options on this list.
However, if you have chronic digestion problems and nothing else is working, then there’s a good chance the Garden of Life Raw Probiotics will work for you.
- A potent blend of 33 probiotics
- 50 billion CFU
- Free from soy and gluten
Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
- Format: Capsule
- Content: 250 mg of live bacteria per capsule
- Strains: Saccharomyces Boulardii
- Total Doses: 100 capsules
The Florastor Maximum Strength Probiotic is a far departure from most probiotics that have 10+ strains in their formulation. This particular brand only focuses on one: the yeast Saccharomyces Boulardii.
Before you dismiss this as ineffective, read a bit first. S. Boulardii is a yeast strain that’s proven to be highly effective against diarrhoea, as many studies have already shown. This probiotic is actually one of the best long term cures for such a condition. In addition, it can potentially also relieve such ailments as GERD and vomiting syndrome.
Florastor is a great overall supplement for digestive health. It’s a good practice to take this together with an antibiotic, as it’s proven safe to do so. You’ll also ensure that your microbiota balance won’t become disturbed in the process.
This probiotic is safe for lactose intolerant people, even though it has a listed amount of 33 mg of lactose. At that amount, however, the effects are mostly negligible. And despite the intimidating ‘maximum strength’ label, it is safe enough for everyone in the family to use, even infants from 2 months of age.
The one complaint most people have with this is the price, which is more than most multi-strain probiotics. Nevertheless, we can’t deny the effectiveness of the Florastor Maximum Strength Probiotic.
- Use only one highly effective strain S. Boulardii
- Freeze-dried yeast cells for maximum shelf life
- Good for all ages
Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
- Format: Capsule
- CFU: 5 billion
- Strains: proprietary blend which includes L. reuteri, L. acidophilus, and L. rhamnosus
- Total Doses: 90 capsules
Nature’s Way Primadophilus Reuteri is a proprietary probiotic blend that’s made to boost both the digestive and immune systems of your body. The key bacterial strains are also proven through countless studies to help lower bad cholesterol, making this probiotic good for your heart as well.
The probiotic has a guaranteed 5 billion CFU, throughout the product’s shelf life. It also uses a unique delayed-release capsule that has an enteric coating. It helps protect the live bacteria from the stomach’s harsh acids enough for it to reach the large intestine intact. It then adds NutraFlora scFOS that helps the bacterial probiotics to grow rapidly in your gut.
While it’s more on the expensive side, this probiotic is still a good option to take if you want to maintain the overall health of not just your gut, but your body’s other systems as well.
- Proprietary probiotic blend to promote digestive, heart, and immune health
- Delayed-release capsule ensures the bacteria reach your gut
- Probiotic support helps the bacteria strain to grow rapidly
Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
- Format: Liquid (500 ml per bottle)
- CFU: not stated
- Strains: 4 (Lactobacillus: L. rhamnosus, L. acidophilus, L. plantarium, and E. faecium)
Symprove is a liquid probiotic that comes in a delicious mango and passionfruit flavour. It’s also dairy-free and gluten-free, making it a good drink to take for those who have stomachs sensitive to dairy and allergens.
This probiotic primarily helps improve your digestive health by balancing the levels of good bacteria in your gut. It also helps with the digestion of carbohydrates, the production of vitamins, and improving your overall immune response.
The water-based, liquid form of Symprove allows it to reach the gut and not be destroyed or digested along the way. From there, it’s designed to rapidly multiply and help produce lactates, which further drives growth. The strains also tend to be fresher with a higher chance of having live, viable bacteria per dose.
If you prefer your probiotic in liquid form, the delicious flavour of Symprove might just be the one for you.
- Delicious flavour
- Reaches your gut intact
- Lactose and gluten-free
Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
- Format: Powder
- CFU: 5 billion
- Strains: 8 including L. caseii, B. infantis, L. plantarium, and S. thermophilus
- Net Weight: 90g
Nature’s Aid Kidz Pro-5 is a probiotic formula specially made for children as young as 12 months old. If you want to introduce a good microbiota balance to your kids as young as possible, or if they’re suffering from constipation, this is one of the more convenient ways to do it.
This probiotic comes in a powder form which makes adding it to your child’s diet very easy. You can add it into their morning cereal, juice, or milk. It has a pleasant taste that kids won’t find too offensive.
The formulation includes 8 different strains that are designed for use with younger children, with a guaranteed 5 billion CFU per serving.
Nature’s Aid Kidz Pro-5 uses a sugar-free formulation, so it’s great for fostering young teeth. It’s also free from many common allergens such as soy, wheat, lactose, and gluten. It’s ideal for children with very fussy digestion or those who are susceptible to allergies.
Overall, this is an easy and cost-effective way to introduce probiotics to your child’s diet.
- Probiotics especially formulated for children
- Easy to add to food with no aftertaste
- Free from sugars or any allergens
- 8 different strains
Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
- Format: Gummy
- CFU: 2.5 billion per gummy
- Strains: Bacillus Coagulans
- Total Doses: 35 gummies
BeLive Probiotic offers a unique way to take your probiotics – in gummy form. Not only are they convenient, but they’re also delicious! They are available in a sugar-free strawberry and orange flavour that honestly you will find hard to resist eating more than you should!
These probiotic gummies are great for adults as well as for children. They contains one strain, bacillus coagulans. It’s a hardy strain that can withstand stomach acids to reach your gut. It’s great for boosting the immune system and preventing infections, as well as helping you lose weight. And because it’s sugar-free, it doesn’t add any extra calories to your diet.
We love BeLive Probiotic Gummies, and it’s a part of our overall probiotic regime. It gives you the best of both worlds in that it’s as convenient as a capsule, but with the great taste of a liquid drink.
- Delicious taste
- Packs 2.5 billion CFU per gummy
- Convenient for both adults and kids
Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
What’s a Probiotic?
Probiotics are any food source or supplement that contains a healthy number of beneficial ‘good’ bacteria for our gut. A proper balance of this microbiota is key to our overall health, according to many credible health sources like the National Institute of Health in the US.
However, this balance of good bacteria can fall out of sync allow the ‘bad’ bacteria to take over. This can be caused by a number of factors, including diet, stress, and even taking certain antibiotics.
This imbalance can lead to a number of health problems, from something as minor as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to something more severe like ulcerative colitis. It even goes beyond digestive problems and has been shown to help prevent skin problems like atopic dermatitis in infants.
An abundance of bad bacteria is also linked to further health complications like Type 2 diabetes and obesity.
A good balance of probiotics is also linked to other health benefits like an improved immune system and even reduced cholesterol, according to this study. It also produces many different vitamins and like B vitamins and vitamin K.
Probiotics are naturally present in many fermented foods such as yoghurt and kimchi. The most common and well-known type of probiotic bacteria is Lactobacillus, but it’s only one part of a group of 7 core gut microorganisms. These include Saccharomyces, Streptococcus, Enterococcus, Bifidobacterium, Escherichia, and Bacillus.
Probiotics can also be taken in supplement form and are useful for those whose diet doesn’t contain a lot of probiotic sources. They are available in a variety of forms, including tablets, capsules, and liquid drinks. They can be confusing with different doses and included bacteria, so we’ll help clear them up in this article.
Are Probiotics Safe?
Before we delve further, I feel it’s a good time to address a question that most people might have: ‘are probiotics safe?’
The good news is that, yes, they are safe for most healthy people. We have been eating probiotic-rich foods for thousands of years and have encountered very few complications in the medical literature. It’s even safe enough to give to infants, as per the study on atopic dermatitis showed.
You might encounter some minor side effects when you take probiotics supplements for the first time. This often involves gas build-up and discomfort in the lower abdomen. This is normal and is an indication that the probiotic is working. Severity varies but often disappears after a few days as your gut adjusts to the balance.
However, if you have any medical conditions, especially those involving the immune system, you should first consult your doctor before taking any probiotic supplements. The lowered immune response can lead to dangerous infections.
What to Look For In A Probiotic
Type of Live Bacteria
One of the key things to look out for is the type of bacteria used in the probiotic supplement. Lots of manufacturers will have their own unique blend, all while using naming conventions that might be confusing to the average consumer.
It’s pretty easy to read the bacterial nomenclature, however, once you know how. Most probiotics usually list them in this format: genus, species. Some include the strain, but most do not.
You need to be very specific with your species, as different species will not have the same health effects. Lactobacillus Acidophilus, for instance, is the species most used for its probiotic properties, but not all.
A lot of probiotic supplements also have multiple strains, some having as much as 15! This is useful and convenient, as the added strains can help cover a lot of bases in your microbiota balance.
Which type of probiotic you need will depend on your purpose. Are you simply taking it to improve your overall health, or are you treating a specific condition? Some bacteria, for example, are more effective to treat constipation.
Your doctor will usually advise you on which probiotic species you need for your specific condition.
In general, you’d want a multi-strain probiotic that has at least 6 strains and includes at least one Bifidobacterium and one Lactobacillus.
If you want to be more specific, here are some of the more common bacteria you need, depending on your goal. It’s important to note that the following are merely suggestions and recommendations. It’s still best to consult with your doctor before buying.
Bacteria against diarrhoea
Most cases of diarrhoea are caused by infection caused by an imbalance in the large intestine. It’s commonly due to gastroenteritis. It’s also possibly a side effect of taking antibiotics because it doesn’t discriminate between good and bad bacteria.
There is a large number of studies that show probiotics can help prevent diarrhoea by as much as 34% in most cases. It also helps avoid diarrhoea due to antibiotics by as much as 42%.
For diarrhoea, strains that can help include Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus.
Bacteria against constipation
Constipation is the opposite of diarrhoea. It’s characterized by a stool that’s hard and difficult, even painful, to pass. It’s common among the elderly and in some young children.
Laxatives are a quick solution to relieve constipation, but for chronic sufferers, diet and probiotics are shown to be much more effective. There are certain strains that are known to be constipation helpers, one of them being Bifidobacterium Lactis or B. Lactis.
Other strains you can try include Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarium, and Bifidobacterium longnum, among others.
Bacteria against irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome is a larger category of digestion problems that often have diarrhoea as a symptom, but not always. It can also manifest as bloating, nausea, and abdominal cramps.
The effect of probiotics on those suffering from IBS is varied. It also depends on the symptoms being experienced. You can go with the above strains that best fit what you’re feeling, whether its constipation or diarrhoea.
Bacteria for losing weight
Yes, probiotics can help you lose weight! There is a growing number of studies that show certain bacteria can help you achieve optimal body composition and weight. One particular experiment found that obese men who took probiotics for 12 weeks saw a fat reduction of 8.5% in their abdominal area.
Some bacteria known for their fat-bursting properties include Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus gasseri, and Bifidobacterium lactis.
While more studies are needed to provide conclusive evidence, the conclusion is that it’s not harmful to include ample doses of probiotics together with your weight loss diet program.
Bacteria to help boost immunity
One of the many benefits of healthy gut microbiota is that it can help optimize your immune system. Probiotics are a great way to maintain this and can help prevent diseases such as cancer and infections from viruses and harmful bacteria. They can also help mitigate the risk of eczema in young children and urinary tract infections in women.
Strains that have a good effect on your immune system include Lactobacillus crispatus, Lactobacillus GG, Lactobacillus gasseri, Bifidobacterium longum, and Bifidobacterium bifidum.
Bacteria that help lower cholesterol
Probiotics also have a hidden benefit: they might help reduce cholesterol levels and improve your heart health. Certain strains in yoghurt, for example, are shown to increase the shift away from ‘bad’ cholesterol towards ‘good’ cholesterol in your body.
Some of the bacteria that are great for your heart include Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus reuteri, and Bifidobacterium longum.
In addition, you need to make sure that the microorganisms used in the probiotic supplement are live. Dead bacteria are of no use to you. You also need to consider how many microorganisms you’re actually getting per dose.
This is where CFU, or colony-forming units, is useful. This is the guaranteed number of the good bacteria per dose or ml, at the time the probiotic was manufactured. Most probiotic supplements range from 1 – 10 billion CFUs. Look or ask the manufacturer what their guaranteed CFU is until the probiotic expires.
CFU is highly subjective, as what you need depends greatly on your specific health condition. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ dose. In addition, bigger doesn’t mean better when it comes to probiotics. More amounts of live bacteria will have negligible effects beyond a certain point and you’ll end up just wasting your money.
Capsules vs Liquid Drinks
Probiotics can either be in capsule form or mixed in with a drink such as a yoghurt or juice.
Capsules are a more convenient option, as they can be carried anywhere and ingested quickly. They also use various techniques to put the live bacteria into a dormant state, increasing their shelf life. Most also don’t need refrigeration, so storage is easier.
Capsules are suitable for most people thanks to them being more convenient. However, they are the ‘boring’ option. In some chewable capsules, they can have a chalky and unpleasant taste.
Probiotics in liquid form, on the other hand, can be combined in a variety of refreshing drinks. They are more delicious, and drinking them is actually enjoyable. The number one issue, though, is shelf life. They need to be consumed right away for maximum benefits; otherwise they must be refrigerated.
Liquid probiotics are the preferred option for infants and older people, as they might have trouble swallowing pills or tablets.
When you have certain allergies, be more cautious and read the ingredient label of the probiotic before buying. Most bacteria are grown or cultured in milk, so these probiotics might contain traces of it. If you’re allergic to dairy, find one that uses 0% milk in their process.
Other common allergens in probiotics include wheat and soy. Be especially wary of probiotics with additives and preservatives.
Some probiotic drinks like yoghurts can have an excessive amount of sugar in the formulation. This is counterproductive, as sugar can be a source of infections. Not to mention it has adverse effects on your health, something that you’re trying to avoid with probiotics.
If you can, go with capsules or tablets which have negligible sugar content.
Whenever possible, don’t buy a probiotic that’s close to its expiry date, no matter how cheap you can get it for. Most CFU guarantees are made at the point of manufacture. Viability of these bacterial strains go down over time, so you might not be getting the full dose you need if the probiotic is nearing the end of its shelf life.