Trying to buy probiotics on Amazon can be a daunting task. After all, you’ll have somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,000 choices. Here’s some information that will help make your decision a little easier. After all, the better armed you are when trying to navigate this probiotic maze, the easier it will be to make your ultimate choice.
Why Probiotics on Amazon are Important
There is no shortage of probiotics on Amazon or anywhere else. It’s almost like they’re everywhere, judging from the amount of advertising that appears on television on a regular basis. But why are they so popular?
Whether you buy probiotics on Amazon, in your local drugstore or grocery store, or anywhere else, it’s important you realize how they work before you buy them. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria, most of which are located in the gastrointestinal tract – often referred to as the “gut.”
This is an area where a constant battle is being waged between beneficial and harmful bacteria and other microbes. If the bad bacteria prevail, that’s when we are the highest risk for a host of health issues. These range from a mild bout of diarrhea to severe illnesses. Probiotics are designed to make sure there is a healthy balance between good and bad bacteria.
There are a lot of reasons that your body can lose good bacteria, but one of the most common is the use of antibiotics. These powerful medications have saved millions of lives by attacking harmful bacteria. Unfortunately, they also kill the beneficial ones. Probiotics on Amazon are designed to replenish your supply.
The probiotics Amazon sells contain billions of bacteria, mainly from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families. Lactobacillus acidophilus (L. acidophilus), for example, is a bacterium that is found in just about every probiotic product on the market. It’s important because it helps stem the growth of harmful microbes, and, as a result, helps to keep a good balance of bacteria in the gut.1 L. plantarum is not only found in probiotic supplements, but, like many other good bacteria, is also found in foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and many others. Research indicates that L. plantarum can reduce the symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive issues.2
Bifidobacterium lactis helps us digest dairy products, and studies suggest it can also help reduce the effects of celiac disease.3 One theory holds that the reason is B. lactis inhibits the formation of a substance known as wheat gliadin, which is one of the main causes of the severe intestinal problems associated with the illness.
B. breve has been shown to inhibit the growth of a type of harmful yeast that contributes to certain oral problems as well as irritable bowel syndrome.4,5 B. longum, according to research, can reduce the symptoms of antibiotic-associated diarrhea.6
But probiotics aren’t only bacteria. For example, a type of yeast known as Saccharomyces boulardii has been shown to help people get over serious bouts of diarrhea as much as a day and a half sooner than through traditional treatment methods.7
Make Sure You’re Getting Your Money’s Worth
Before you hit that “add to cart” button to buy probiotics on Amazon, there are several other things that you’ll need to keep in mind. One of the most important is to check the labels carefully before making your purchase. Doing so will provide vital clues about whether or not you’ll be getting a high-quality product.
The label should, for instance, tell you how many CFUs (colony-forming units) of beneficial probiotics you’ll be ingesting in each serving. This could mean the amount of CFUs per capsule, the portion of a probiotic drink you’ll pour into a glass, the amount of powder you’ll be mixing with liquid, etc.
There’s no “one size fits all” answer to the number of CFUs you should look for, but most experts believe that 15-30 billion per serving is sufficient. There are some products that contain 1 billion CFUs, while others contain hundreds of billions. But those are not only pricey, there’s no research that clearly states they provide any extra benefits.
Labeling should also contain information on not only the types of bacteria and other microbes found in the product, but also the viability of those microbes. Labels should contain phrasing such as “viable at the time of manufacture” or “viable until the date of expiration.” If it says the former, don’t even think about buying that product. The reason is that there are no guarantees that the microbes will be alive when you ingest them – and as a result, won’t provide you any benefits. If, on the other hand, the label says the latter, then the microbes should be be viable when you use the product.
Another key piece of information on the label will be how you need to store the product. If it says you need to refrigerate it, keep the product cold so that the microbes will stay alive. There are some probiotics on Amazon, however, that are freeze-dried. This means that the microbes will spring to life once you ingest them. Freeze-dried probiotics need only be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
If you purchase a probiotic powder and plan on mixing it with some tea or other hot beverage, make sure the label states that it’s heat-resistant. If it doesn’t, mixing the powder with hot liquid will kill the bacteria. The label on probiotic products that are in capsule form should say the capsules have an enteric coating. This will help ensure that the microbes will be able to survive their journey through the acidic environment of the stomach.
Before taking any probiotics on Amazon, check with your doctor first. While probiotics are safe for people in generally good health, they can cause serious issues for those suffering from severe intestinal problems or those with a compromised immune system.