If you have a specific ailment, such as diarrhea or lactose intolerance, most experts would advise supplements over yogurt. “You usually don’t get enough probiotics from food to have a therapeutic dose,” says naturopath Rahima Hirji. But how do you make the best choice?
Top Form: Options include capsules, tablets, powder, and liquid, but experts generally recommend the refrigerated enteric-coated capsules or tablets. The coating ensures that organisms will survive the acidy transit through the stomach to the intestines, and the refrigeration keeps organisms alive for as long as possible. The powdered form is cheaper than capsules, and it’s a great option if you want to take your dose in a smoothie. The liquid form is the least stable of all the forms, and experts tend not to recommend it.
Read the Label: Look for products that contain one billion bacteria in each daily serving. But don’t buy if the bottle guarantees the dose only at the time of manufacture; the trip from manufacturer to supermarket can seriously compromise the product’s bacteria. Check the expiration date as well, and purchase bottles as far in advance of that date as possible.
Look for a Blend: Some practitioners recommend particular strains of bacteria for different ailments, but not all strains are readily available. The simplest way to cover your bases is to buy a probiotic that contains a blend of several. “That way you’ll increase the chances that one or more of the strains will have an impact,” says Mary Ellen Sanders, food scientist and president of Dairy and Food Culture Technologies in Centennial, Colorado.
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