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How to choose a good probiotic
February 1st, 2023 + The Naturopathic Co.

There are many things to consider when choosing the ‘right’ probiotic. There is so much information coming to light in research around different strains of bacteria, how they interact with our body, and the effect they have on our health outcomes.

Let’s take a look at some of the variables, so we can have a better understanding around which probiotic to choose.

The strains of bacteria in the probiotic

How do you know you are getting the correct strains for your body in the probiotic you choose? Firstly, there is no ‘bad’ strain in a probiotic. We now know that diversity in healthy gut bacteria is one of the most important factors when it comes to good health. We each need lots of different healthy strains of bacteria to help the gut and immune system function optimally, so variety is key. That means it’s important to switch probiotics every now and then – perhaps every 3 months – in order to build up strain diversity.  We also know that the strains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the dominant strains found in a healthy human gut, therefore it’s a good idea to have a probiotic that includes those strains. If you want to be even more tailored in your approach to healthcare, then you would work with your naturopath to determine exactly which healthy bacteria you have in your gut, and which healthy strains you are low in. Then you would go about improving the healthy bacteria in your gut by taking a strain-specific probiotic that is most suited to your gut. ie if your Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium is already high in your gut, then there’s no need to include those strains in the probiotic you take. Functional medicine treatment tailored specifically to you is always the best approach.

The type of product 

Most probiotics come as a capsule, but you can also find powdered and liquid forms of probiotics. You can buy shelf-stable probiotics that don’t need to be kept in a fridge, as well as temperature sensitive probiotics. Shelf-stable probiotics are created by freeze-drying live bacteria. The bacteria remain dormant until they touch moisture. However, the viability of probiotics are often improved if kept in the refrigerator regardless. For example, a probiotic that is classed as shelf-stable may provide 30 billion CFU at room temperature and 50 billion CFU when kept refrigerated. Research has also shown that taking your probiotic with a small amount of healthy fat can improve survivability.

The CFU count in the probiotic

The term CFU on the packaging of a probiotic stands for ‘colony-forming unit’ and represents the estimated number of bacterial cells in each serving. The more the CFU, the better the product, and that is because not all bacteria survive through the stomach to reach the point where we want them to go! So the more we start with, the better outcome that is likely. I would only use a product that has ‘billions’ of CFU.

The knowledge on various strains in the probiotic

Some probiotic companies are very strong on research, using independent papers to highlight the use of various strains of bacteria. A reputable brand should have information about the strains found in the probiotic, and how those strains can influence positive health outcomes. Different strains of bacteria can help with different types of health concerns. Some probiotics have been shown to regulate immune health, others are good for IBS or digestive symptoms, and others are even good for vaginal health!

Check for excipients 

Check to ensure there are not any added ingredients or preservatives. Some probiotics include sugar, colouring, or flavours, which is counter productive when taking a probiotic to improve your health!

Seeking help from a naturopath

Ultimately, the best probiotic choice is going to come down to the current ‘mix’ of bacteria in your gut, as well as the current state of your health overall. Depending on the type of health issues you face, there are many different types of strains that have been shown to help different health conditions.

In order to determine the best choice for you, it’s important to get an accurate report on the strains of bacteria, yeast, (and even parasites!) in your gut. Once we know that information through a comprehensive stool analysis, then we can select a probiotic that is specific to your needs.

In my telehealth naturopathy clinic, I run an extensive list of labs to get to a comprehensive look at your gut health; including digestive capabilities, gut permeability, metabolic markers, beneficial bacteria, pathogenic bacteria, yeast, and parasites.

We work to help you get to the root cause of any health issues, and identify the best probiotic to help achieve your specific health outcomes.

Optimise your gut >< Optimise your health

To treat health issues from the underlying cause, make time to see our South Yarra naturopath,  Canberra naturopath, Sydney Naturopath, Perth Naturopath, Gold Coast naturopath, or Adelaide Naturopath.



Yvette is a qualified Naturopath and Nutritionist, MINDD Practitioner, member of the Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia.

Yvette specialises in the treatment of gut health and digestive complaints, skin issues, mood disorders, hormonal concerns, fatigue, and more.







The Naturopathic Co. 2023 Melbourne NaturopathSouth Yarra Naturopath, Naturopath Sydney, Naturopath Perth, Naturopath Adelaide, Naturopath Canberra, Naturopath Gold Coast, Naturopath Sunshine Coast, Naturopath Brisbane, Naturopath Cairns.

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