Occasional gas, bloating, and constipation? Chances are your gut's to blame. In fact, scientists, researchers and physicians are discovering that the gut is responsible for many aspects of our health and ultimately, the quality of our lives

Along with housing over 70% of our immunity, our gut directly impacts our digestion, lungs, heart, and even the brain! And when bad bacteria start outnumbering the good, it can negatively impact one or more of these vital systems.

But a quality probiotic supplement can do wonders to help replenish our gut with billions of helpful bacteria, thereby re-establishing the correct balance of our gut flora.

Unfortunately, not all probiotics are made the same. And with so much clutter on the market it's tough to know what direction to take when looking for a high quality supplement. So, Smarter Reviews did the hard work for you, by revealing what to look for and what to avoid when shopping for an effective probiotic.

We even researched hundreds of probiotics on the market to give you the 5 very best probiotic supplements on the market today.

6 Ways Probiotics Can Skyrocket Our Health

When our good bacteria is plentiful, they line up along the inside the walls of our arteries to defend against invading bad bacteria, much as soldiers would when defending a fort. But when we have too few of these good ‘wall defenders,’ the bad bacteria jam their way through these thin walls where they enter our bloodstream and travel throughout our body — definitely not a situation we'd want.

When the bad bacteria in our gut start outnumbering the good, not only does it make it more difficult to digest food, but it can sometimes lead to embarrassing gut issues such as gas, bloating, and diarrhea. A high-quality probiotic can help correct this imbalance, leading to a marked improvement of these symptoms.

A recent study has shown a direct relationship between bad bacterial growth in the gut and the ability to fall and remain asleep. This can lead to sleep disorders that zap our energy during the day and create erratic sleep patterns. In short, the more good bacteria in our gut, the better our sleep!

Many are surprised to learn that our gut has over 500 million neurons that send signals to the brain via the spinal cord. When our bad bacteria is out-of-control, the gut sends confusing signals, which can lead to occasional brain fog, stress, and even memory slips. The gut and brain are intricately linked, so it’s vitally important that the gut is as healthy as possible. 

If you ever wondered how people slide past the age of 100 so effortlessly, chances are it’s because of their healthy, youthful gut. In fact, recent studies show that participants over the age of 100 who are less physically frail and enjoy greater mental acuity had one thing in common: an abundance of healthy bacterial strains in their gut. So, the fountain of youth may just be located in our gut after all!

With over 70% of our immunity residing in our gut, it becomes important to support it in any way we can. Probiotic supplements replenish the gut with helpful bacteria to boost our immune system so it can respond to unanticipated attacks.

4 Things All Effective Probiotics Must Have

Based on our research and feedback from our Smarter Shoppers, these are the things to look for in an exceptional probiotic supplement:

High CFU Count

Since our microbiome is composed of about 100 trillion good and bad bacteria, a high number of Colony Forming Units (CFUs) will have greater impact on the growth of beneficial bacteria within our gut.23 It's essential to choose a probiotic which specifies CFU versus "active cultures" or "live cultures." Look for a formula with a minimum of 40 billion CFU.

Prebiotics

The latest research shows that fiber-based prebiotics (such as NutraFlora Fiber) feed the probiotics, helping them to populate and flourish in our gut.24 Choose probiotics supplements containing prebiotics to significantly increase the overall effectiveness of the probiotic.

Clinically Studied Strains

There are hundreds of different probiotics strains, but many have never been proven effective. The best way to identify the potency of a particular strain is to look at the clinical studies backing it up. To find out if a particular strain has clinical backing, search the strain name on the internet. Look for strains proven effective by clinical studies

Formulated By A Doctor

It takes specific expertise to form an effective probiotic formulation. More is not necessarily better. The exact combination of strain type, potency, quantity, and prebiotics determines the product's quality. Look for real doctors specializing in gut health backing the product.

Every year, researchers make new strides in understanding probiotics and how they affect our health. We now understand that there are hundreds of unique probiotic strains that all perform different functions in our bodies. Some strains enhance digestion to minimize uncomfortable symptoms such as diarrhea and constipation. While others can enhance our mood, increase energy or give us greater mental clarity

Here are some of the most effective strains available in a high-quality probiotic:

Top Probiotic Strains & Their Benefits:

While the potency and variety of strains is crucial when looking for in a high-quality probiotic, it's equally important to know what to avoid when looking for an effective probiotic.

The following 3 tips should help you sidestep those not worth your time: 

Probiotics: 3 Things To Avoid 

Limited Unique Strains

Probiotic strains serve different purposes in the body, so it's important to choose a probiotic supplement that features a variety of robust strains. Most probiotics feature only one or two strains — far too few to be effective.

We recommend looking for a supplement with at least 9 unique strains for a more comprehensive approach to overall health and immune function. 

Absence of Clinical Studies

A high-quality probiotic will clearly identify its specific probiotic strains on the label. Indicated by a combination of letters and numbers following the strain's name (eg. L. gasseri L22G), these 'substrains,' tell you that they are backed by one or more clinical studies.

Unfortunately, many supplements on the market are made with generic (and cheaper) strains, so it's always a good idea to check the label to ensure specific substrains are there.

Required Refrigeration

Probiotics requiring refrigeration can be damaged or killed off during shipping. They may also be unable to survive the hot, acidic environment of our gut. We therefore suggest choosing a probiotic that is shelf-stable and does need to be stored in the refrigerator.  

Top 5 Probiotic Supplements of 2021