Probiotic Basics

TV commercials, internet ads, and now coming to your local supermarket. There is a lot of buzz going around about probiotics. With everyone looking to find an edge for their health, probiotics has been catching on quickly. While taking probiotics can be extremely helpful to your digestive system and realigning your flora, it can help you in many more ways than just digestion. Knowing the basics is key to balancing your flora quickly.


The reintroduction of healthy bacteria to your gut allows the body to begin to clean house of the bad bacteria that was residing there. Probiotics can help realign the gut back to more of a homeostasis, making the balance between the good and the bad more equal. Once this occurs, healthy foods will be broken down properly, and all the nutrients will be allowed to go to its destination. Your flora is back! Unfortunately, it’s not so cut and dry.

All this is great news for your gut, but it comes with one caveat. Probiotics don’t usually take up residence in your gut. They are more like support troops that come on in and help force out the enemy. Once that cycle of probiotic is gone, they are off to the wonderful lands of sewers and septic systems. We need to keep the good guys there, this way we don’t always have to continually buy these pills. This is where pre-biotics come into play. Prebiotics give the food needed for the good bacteria (and sometimes bad) needed to flourish in our guts. But that will be discussed in a later post.

Many questions arise when choosing which probiotic to buy. Some are contained in a refrigerator; others are just on the store shelves. 8 Strains, 100 Bazillion, acidophilus, Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, OH MY!

It can all be a bit over whelming, and in the end you might just pass by the counter with a befuddled look, and have nothing in your basket. Maybe next time.

Here’s how I choose and buy my probiotics:


Know thy Strain 

The probiotic must have the strains listed on the box. The number of billion doesn’t matter if you’re getting a few strains of ineffective bacteria. You want a diverse amount of strains 8 or more, each specifically named.

Numbers aren’t everything

Passing along the supermarket aisle I saw a box sporting a 100 BILLION per serving for about 15 dollars. Quality usually comes at a premium, and QUANTITY is just a marketing tactic to have you buy their shitty (no pun) probiotic. Yes it might have had 100 billion before packaging, but due to lack of quality control you’re most likely left with a capsule full of dead bacteria.  Price isn’t always a good indicator, but in this case it usually tells you how well a product is cared for. I usually try to purchase a probiotic that is at least 25$.

Show me the tests 

Sometimes the company will have the test results of their probiotics on their website. Other times they will have on their box the strains that have been shown to have benefited the flora. The best type of test is a double blind placebo study. Although those are rare, if you happen to find a probiotic with positive results in the double blind placebo study, you most likely have yourself a good strain.

Refrigeration required?

Not necessarily, considering if your probiotics can’t withstand room temperature, I’m pretty sure they can’t handle the 98.6 something degrees of heat your body produces. While refrigeration might keep the shelf life of the probiotics live longer through the travel process of the plant to your home, it’s not necessary to specifically seek out refrigerated probiotics.

Soil Based Probiotics

You might see SBO (soil based organisms) or HSO (homeostatic soil organisms) labeled on the box or bottle of probiotics. There is some skepticism about these organisms, due to the fact that they are spore forming organisms. The fear is that if your immune system is so depleted, these organisms will act as opportunistic bacteria, take hold of the immune system and become problematic. For those of us not battling an extreme long term illness, these SBO’s are extremely powerful in helping restore the flora. SBO’s get my thumbs up approval.

Consume with Fat

Heisenbug brought this to the forefront a few months ago on his blog, saying that consuming probiotics with fat gives the probiotics a better chance of survival and higher success rate. Which totally makes sense, considering our ancestors weren’t living in a sanitized environment like we are today. Bacteria from the soil would be very close to the food, thus being a normal part of our flora. This study shows that fats especially helped the probiotics in their effectiveness to help replenish the flora. Just remember when taking probiotics, don’t be afraid to have it with your meals, or better yet swig it down with a TBS of coconut oil.

So which probiotics do I take?

Back when my flora was completely out of whack, I tried a few probiotics that didn’t do squat. It wasn’t until I received guidance from Chris Kresser’s blog, that I would give the SBO’s a chance. That led me to purchase Prescript Assist. Once I started taking Prescript Assist, my flora started to come back into balance. No more breakouts, fibromyalgia, and BM’s became a regular thing again.

Today I cycle through 4 different probiotics just to keep my flora aligned. I don’t take them each day, but when I feel a little iffy about a meal or I’m experiencing a flora distress signal I will pop back a capsule. Every three days I usually take a different strain for maintenance. And my flora thanks me. A big thanks to Dr. BG, Richard Nikolay, and Tim Steele for bringing these probiotics mentioned below to the forefront.

My Probiotics

  • Tina Quinn

    Since this post is from 2014 what are your new favourite probiotics?