One of the most common dietary supplements for the gut is lactic acid bacteria found in both probiotic and synbiotic supplements. We would like to share four things to keep in mind when trying to figure out which is the right supplement for you.
Lactic acid bacteria are a type of benign bacteria that occur naturally in the human intestine. Hundreds of different types of microorganisms live in the intestine, and together they make up our gut flora. The gut flora is responsible for several bodily functions such as metabolism, hormone balance and intestinal function.
Our gut flora already starts forming during the first years of our life. Thereafter the gut flora is primarily affected by what we eat and how we live, but also by our surroundings. The gut flora can end up unbalanced if we, for example, eat insufficient amounts of fibre for extended periods of time (fibre is the food of benign bacteria!), If we go on an antibiotic regimen, or expose the body to a lot of stress.
An unbalanced gut flora consists of a decreasing number of good bacteria, which leaves room for bad bacteria to multiply and take over. This can eventually lead to mild inflammation and has been linked to allergies, autoimmune diseases, weight gain, skin problems, fungal infections and more.
For those who want to try a dietary supplement made up of lactic acid bacteria, it’s important to remember that different bacterial strains have different properties. In addition, there are several factors that affect the quality and effect of the supplement. Here are four things to keep in mind:
In order to understand what effect the product has, it is important that the bacterial strains and the composition of these bacteria have been studied and tested properly.
In order to ensure that the bacteria are able to travel down to the intestinal system where they can have a positive effect, the bacteria must be able to tolerate both a low pH value and a low level of bile acid. One of the functions of the stomach is to kill malignant bacteria and the stomach acid therefore has a pH value of around 2, which is very low. This is in contrast to the intestines where the pH value is about 7-8. The ability of the bacteria to cope with the inhospitable environment of the stomach varies greatly between different bacterial strains, so this is important to keep in mind when choosing supplements. The bacterial strains used in Super Synbiotic’s products such as Synbiotic15 and Synbiotic40 Enhanced have a very high tolerance to both bile acid and low pH values (see references below).
Your gut flora is unique to you – it is commonly compared with the human fingerprint in this respect – and the effects of a dietary supplement can therefore vary from person to person. It may also take time for the body to get used to a new supplement, which means that you might need to adjust the dose or take other measures. When trying a new supplement, be sure to test it thoroughly for at least three months, taking the supplement each day (according to instructions). You can then make an evaluation of how you feel and any potential effects the supplements has had on you. And remember that some substances have more subtle long-term effects.
Probiotics is a category of supplements that contain good bacteria, while synbiotics is a category of supplements that contain both good bacteria and fibre (prebiotics). The fibres in the supplement are important since they feed the bacteria in the gut. In addition, fibre facilitates normal bowel function. The Swedish National Food Administration recommends that an adult consumes at least 25-35 grams of fibre per day.
When we talk about dietary supplements, it is important to point out that they are supplements and nothing more. The gut flora is affected by many external factors such as stress, diet and exercise, so you should always begin by evaluating these areas of your life. A dietary supplement is not a universal solution to health problems, but can work well as a complement to a healthy lifestyle.
Kruszewska et al. 2002. Selection of lactic acid bacteria as probiotic strains by in vitro tests. Microecology and Therapy 29:37-49.
Ljungh et al. 2002. Isolation, selection and characteristics of Lactobacillus paracasei subsp. paracasei F19. Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease Suppl. (Lactobacillus F19 – Closing the broken circle) 3:4-6