Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A “Shot” of Probiotics

Photo credit to Carnby on Wikimedia Commons

Your body contains 10 times more intestinal bacteria than human cells. So, it’s no wonder that maintaining a healthy environment of friendly bacteria in your gut plays such an important role. It’s well documented that the presence of probiotics or “healthy bacteria” in your intestinal tract may improve immune function and aid in digestion. Live bacteria are increasingly being added to products, such as “shots” or drinks, to enhance their health appeal. But are these drinks as beneficial as they seem? 

Follow these tips for getting to know your probiotic drinks better.

  1. It’s all in the name. There are three important components of a probiotic’s name: genus, species and strain. Look for products that list the full probiotic name, such as Lactobacillus Rhamnosus HN001 or Lactobacillus plantarum 229V, which is a sign that more research is available on its benefits. Check out the company website for clinical studies to support specific benefits, such as improving resistance to pathogens.
  2. It’s all in the numbers. Colony forming units (CFUs), the measurement of live microbes in a probiotic, should be listed on the label because different probiotics are effective at different doses. For example, some probiotics appear to offer benefits at 50 million CFUs per day, while others may be effective at doses of 1 trillion. Read the product information to learn more about an effective dose.
  3. It’s all in the packaging. Check the product’s label for proper storage (most probiotics survive better at lower temperatures.) By definition, probiotics have to be alive when administered. The California Dairy Research Foundation advises consumers to choose products from reputable companies, which are labeled with live bacteria information obtained at the end of shelf life and not at the time of manufacture.

A Guide to Probiotic Shots and Drinks

Here’s a list of popular probiotics beverages available in many supermarkets.

Probiotic Strain
Specific Health Benefits
Bio K + Probiotic
L. acidophilus CL1285, L. casei LBC80R
50 billion per 3.5 oz
Improves digestive health and resistance to infectious pathogens; used in the therapeutic treatment of urinary infections
Bucha Live Kombucha
Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 6086
1 billion per 16 oz
No clinical studies available
DanActive fermented milk
L. casei DN-114 001
10 billion per 3.1 oz
Contributes to healthy gut flora
GoodBelly Quarts
Lactobacillus planterium 299V
10-20 billion per 8 oz
Promotes healthy digestion
GoodBelly SraightShot
Lactobacillus planterium 299V
20 billion per 2.7 oz
Promotes healthy digestion
GoLive Probiotic and Prebiotic Ready-to-Drink Bottles
Bifidobacterium bifidum R-71, Lactobacillus acidophilus L-10*
8 billion per 16 oz
No clinical studies available.
KeVita Sparkling Probiotic Drink
Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 6086
 4  billion per 15.2 oz
No clinical studies available.
Lactobacillus Casei Shirota
8 billion per 2.7 oz
Contributes to health gut flora, promotes gastrointestinal health by helping to prevent diarrhea and IBS

Information obtained from manufacturer label and manufacturer websites.

*Contains an additional 13 other probiotic strains

This article was written by McKenzie for the October 2013 issue of Environmental Nutrition.

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