Probiotics have a very positive effect on health – but only if you use high-quality preparations and know what to look out for when taking and using them.
Probiotics – The correct application and intake
We use the term probiotics to describe preparations that contain active or inactive probiotic (gut-friendly) bacterial strains. Probiotics are usually taken to influence disturbed intestinal flora in such a way that they can regenerate and consequently improve overall health. Because the healthier the intestines and the more balanced the intestinal flora, the stronger the immune system and the healthier the person.
Since the state of the intestinal flora affects every acute or chronic illness, including obesity, probiotics can be used for almost all complaints and physical problems.
However, it is often not known what to look out for when taking probiotics correctly, when these products are best taken and which probiotic is suitable for which purpose.
Are probiotics in capsules or in liquid form?
Probiotics in capsules usually consist exclusively of probiotic bacterial strains. A prebiotic substance is often added in small amounts, e.g. B. Inulin. Prebiotic means “nourishing the intestinal flora”. A prebiotic consist of food for the probiotic strains and is given to probiotic preparations as “provisions” for the intestinal bacteria.
If a probiotic also contains prebiotic elements, then one no longer speaks of a probiotic but of a symbiotic. In order not to create confusion, most manufacturers still use the term probiotic.
Liquid probiotics such as B. Combi Flora Fluid can also contain fermented fruit, herbal or medicinal plant extracts in addition to bacteria, and depending on the product, medicinal mushroom extracts, OPC, prebiotics, or other active substances. All of these substances should help to influence the environment in the intestine so that the beneficial intestinal bacteria feel comfortable there and at the same time the harmful bacteria and fungi are deterred.
Very good results can be achieved by combining a capsule probiotic with a liquid probiotic.
Sometimes fermented foods are also referred to as probiotics, such as sauerkraut or lactic acid fermented juices. However, since it is never possible to say which bacteria are actually present and to what extent, these foods can be easily integrated into the diet, specific statements on the effect on specific health problems cannot be made.
Yogurt and other fermented milk products in particular are often considered valuable probiotics. If these foods are supposed to have a positive effect on health, it is in large part due to their probiotic cultures, which could, however, be consumed entirely without dairy products (and their health risks) (see above).
Yogurt also only contains a few probiotic strains – and if you’re unlucky only small amounts. Since there are also indications that the effect of yogurt on health is overrated, increased consumption of yogurt is not a solution if you want to specifically build up your intestinal flora or contribute to its regeneration.
Of course, fermented foods also include kefir & co, for which you will find the appropriate information in the previous link. However, if you want to take concrete action against dysbiosis (a disorder of the intestinal flora), protect yourself from diseases, strengthen the immune system and improve general health, then high-quality and high-dose probiotics in capsule form or in liquid form make more sense.
What should you look out for when buying probiotics?
When buying probiotics, you can pay attention to the following points:
The number of bacterial strains contained – the more, the better
Many probiotics on the market contain only a few strains of probiotic bacteria, some as little as one or two to three. However, the human intestinal flora consists of 200 to 400 different strains. It is therefore advisable to take probiotics that have the widest possible variety of beneficial intestinal bacterial strains.
Since there are now also research results for various strains that prove very specific effects of these strains, the greater the spectrum of effects, the more beneficial bacterial strains are contained in the respective preparation.
- For example, we know that Lactobacillus reuteri can reduce dental plaque and alleviate gingivitis, so it has a positive effect on oral and dental health. If there are problems with an elevated cholesterol level, then L. reuteri supports the regulation of the same. Children who took this strain of bacteria showed a reduced risk of allergies.
- Lactobacillus helveticus, on the other hand, takes care of bone health. The strain promotes the absorption of minerals and also the formation of osteoblasts (cells that build bone substance) – as we have described in detail here: L. helveticus
- The three strains L. gasseri, L. plantarum, and L. rhamnosus, on the other hand, help people who are overweight to reach normal weight more easily without subsequently being overtaken by the yo-yo effect.
- L. rhamnosus is also known to have therapeutic effects on vaginal yeast infections, while L. plantarum can be used on Helicobacter pylori (stomach germ) infections.
You can already see from this small selection of different effects that a probiotic from many different strains are much more helpful and is therefore preferable to preparations with a small number of bacterial strains.
Combi Flora SymBIO capsules, for example, contain 13 different probiotic bacterial strains, including almost all of those just listed. In addition, the preparation contains the yeast strain Saccharomyces boulardii, which can stop acute diarrhea and also prevent antibiotic-related diarrhea.
Combi Flora Fluid (a liquid probiotic) even supplies 24 probiotic bacterial strains (but not S. boulardii, so it is particularly suitable for taking after antibiotic therapy or can also be taken in combination with Combi Flora Capsules).
When buying probiotics, also make sure that the preparation contains active, i.e. living and not inactivated bacteria.
No superfluous additives
Of course, probiotic preparations should be free of sugar, sweeteners, flavors, release agents such as e.g. B. magnesium stearate (also called magnesium salts of fatty acids), and other unnecessary additives.
Better no gastric-resistant capsules
Manufacturers often advertise that their probiotic is enteric-coated. This sounds good at first because it means that a larger amount of the bacteria it contains gets into the intestine. However, because this bypasses the stomach’s natural control and protective mechanisms, probiotics in enteric-coated capsules are more likely to have undesirable side effects than regular capsules.
How do you store probiotics?
While some probiotic strains are not heat-sensitive, we would recommend storing probiotics in the fridge.
The right time to take it
It is ideal to take on an empty stomach, as the probiotic bacteria then pass through the stomach particularly quickly and therefore do not come into contact with stomach acid and digestive enzymes as intensively. After just half an hour – so it is said that almost all bacteria (90 percent) have arrived in the intestine with this intake variant.
The pH of the stomach also varies over the course of the day. It is particularly high (i.e. less acidic) in the morning before breakfast, during meals, and in the evening before bed. It is low (i.e. more acidic) after meals.
If you take the probiotic with meals, they should contain a little fat (1 percent is enough), but not high in fat and not rich in protein, since such meals cause the release of a lot of stomach acid and large amounts of digestive enzymes, which in turn can also attack the probiotic bacteria and reduce their quantity.
A study from 2011 confirmed these statements. It examined different intake times. It was found that most probiotic strains arrived in the gut intact when taken either just before meals (up to 30 minutes before) or taken directly with meals. On the other hand, the fewest probiotic bacteria arrived in the intestine when they were taken half an hour after meals.
In summary, the following applies to the correct intake of probiotics
- Take probiotics either before breakfast (no more than 30 minutes before), with breakfast, or with another meal that is not too high in fat and not too high in protein.
- Since probiotics also have a positive effect on the quality of sleep, you can also take your probiotics before going to bed if you suffer from insomnia.
- If you have never taken probiotics before, start with a small dose and gradually increase to the manufacturer’s recommended dose. You can also split the daily dose into several intakes. In this way you avoid possible side effects (bloating or similar) developing. At the same time, you will be able to find the dosage that you tolerate best.
- Unless you have just purchased an enteric-coated capsule preparation, you can open the capsules and split the contained dose if the dose contained in one capsule is too much for you or if you cannot swallow the capsules well.
- If you have a preparation with enteric-coated capsules, but the capsules are too big and you cannot swallow them, you should first ask the manufacturer/supplier whether it makes sense to open the capsules and only take the contents. If it contains strains of bacteria that are sensitive to gastric juice, it would of course be better to swallow the capsules whole or – if that is not possible – to give the preparation away and buy something more suitable for yourself.
- If you have an enteric-coated capsule product, then you can take it at any time.
- If you want to combine capsules and a liquid probiotic, then you can take the liquid probiotic up to 30 minutes before eating and the capsules with eating.
The correct intake of probiotics in a colon cleansing
Probiotics are – together with psyllium husk powder and a mineral clay (bentonite or zeolite) – one of the three basic components of natural intestinal cleansing. For a natural intestinal cleansing, take the mixture of psyllium husk powder and mineral earth with a lot of water 30 to 60 minutes before a meal. Take the probiotic just before the meal. Here you will find details on how to properly perform a colon cleanse.