Which 2017 Probiotic Supplements Are The Most Effective? | Smarter Reviews

Which 2017 Probiotic Supplements Are The Most Effective?

Digestive issues? Learn how to choose the right probiotic for you.

Probiotics have been all over the news lately, especially now that both researchers and celebrity doctors alike are confirming the major connections our microbiome has to our overall health.

Despite its newfound popularity, many of us are still unclear about what exactly our microbiome is, why we need probiotics to help us keep it balanced, or which supplements are best to take.

With that in mind, we’ve compiled years of research about the microbiome and its effect on our health. This quick guide will help you discover everything you need to know to make the most informed decision about your probiotic supplement needs.

Why is our microbiome important, anyway?

Right now, 90% of the cells in your body are microbial. These microbes –– a general term for bacteria, archaea, protists, and other molecular organisms –– are present throughout the body.

The human microbiome is the collection of all of these microbes. This means –– you guessed it –– 90% of your body is actually your microbiome. Keeping it balanced can have huge benefits not only for your digestion, but your brain, skin, immune system, and a host of other functions.

In fact, researchers are only scratching the surface of the potential of probiotic supplements, and why they’re essential for our overall wellbeing.

Unfortunately, many of us still don’t realize that, even though our digestion feels normal, we may still need a quality probiotic supplement to keep us healthy.

10 ways you're hurting your gut bacteria

Our modern Western society has adopted unhealthy activities and lifestyles that affect our microbes in a variety of ways. Most are difficult –– if not impossible–– to avoid, but it's critical to spread awareness if we want to protect our microbiome

  1. Sweets. Processed sugars can feed potentially unhealthy bacteria
  2. Wine and beer. Alcohol consumption can alter your microbial balance.1
  3. Poor sleep. This can lead to subtle changes in your microbial makeup.2
  4. Antibiotics. These kill both good and bad bacteria.
  5. Not enough fiber. It serves as food for helpful microbes. 
  6. Living in the city. Pollution can affect the number of good bacteria.3
  7. Water containing chlorine. Chlorine can kill both good and bad bacteria.
  8. Foods with artificial coloring. These are antibacterial and antifungal.
  9. Antibacterial soaps. Any antibacterial products can destroy healthy microbes.
  10. NSAID pain relievers. They disrupt digestive flora and intestinal mucus.4

What You Should Look for in a Good Probiotic

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

Doctor Formulated

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

High CFU Count

Since our microbiome is composed of about 100-trillion good and bad bacteria, a high number of CFUs will have greater impact on the growth of beneficial bacteria within your gut flora. Look for a formula with a minimum of 40 billion CFUs

Multiple Strains

Taking a probiotic with a variety of good bacteria strains can help balance your microbiome. Unfortunately, most probiotic supplements only provide one type of strain.  That's why it's crucial to find probiotics that use a comprehensive approach to promoting balance in your gut bacteria.

Try to find a supplement with at least 9 individual strains.


Substrains

The substrains listed next to each strain indicates that a specific probiotic strain has undergone clinical studiesMany probiotic formulations do not list their specific substrains,

This is a huge red flag. It means that they could be using generic forms of the strain (which are cheaper) that have not been clinically studied, proven, or adequately researched.

  • Here is an example of a probiotic strain listed with its substrain to the right: Lactobacillus Casei Lc-11TM

It's essential to find a probiotic supplement that lists its substrains. Avoid generic strains and stick with clinically studied, trademarked strains that have been shown to be effective.

Prebiotics

The latest research shows using fiber-based prebiotics (such as NutraFlora Fiber) will help the probiotics populate and flourish in your gut. This will significantly increase the overall effectiveness of the probiotic.

Non-Refrigeration

These products can be damaged during shipping. Another note: you're not always going to have access to a refrigerator, so we suggest choosing a probiotic that is well-formulated to withstand room temperature and does not require being refrigerated during periods of non-use.

Try To Avoid:

  • Artificial fillers, colors, and binders such as magnesium stearate, chromium, gelatin, and silicon dioxide.
  • Fly-by-night companies. If the probiotic supplement you find isn't backed by a reputable seller with positive reviews, you should avoid them. 
  • Confusing guarantees that hide details in their terms and conditions that make it extremely difficult to receive your money back, if even at all.
  • Probiotic supplements that promise big results from a single bottle. These are empty promises built on sub-standard results or none at all. 


top 3 Biggest Myths About Probiotics

We've read a lot of inaccurate information about probiotics and how you should re-balance your gut bacteria. Below are the three biggest myths we've come across:

  • Yogurt is the best probiotic. Yogurt does contain probiotics, especially Greek yogurt. However, you would have to eat roughly 50 Greek yogurts a day to get the daily recommended amount of probiotics. This can become extremely costly, plus a lot of yogurts contain hidden sugars and syrups.
  • All probiotics are the same. Not all probiotics are created equally. As we have stated before, many have cheap fillers, or just a handful of good bacteria strains. Be sure to read the label of any probiotic you buy.
  • Probiotics will be destroyed in the stomach. The best probiotic supplements have capsules specifically designed to resist stomach acid so this is not an issue. Look for probiotics with capsules that mention stomach acid resistance to ensure the probiotics make it safely to the intestinal tract.


Our specialized ranking system

At Smarter Reviews, we employ a comprehensive evaluation system to analyze and measure the full value of products, by looking at the ingredients, safety, projected effectiveness, return policies, and overall customer satisfaction. This method is known as the Smarter Reviews Ranking System.

In addition to ranking products, we also collect research from the latest studies and clinical trials. Choosing the best product is easy with Smarter Reviews. We offer a clear-cut system that covers the most important criteria, and takes into account the experienced personal reviews of our valued Smarter Shoppers. We've taken the guesswork out of the process, so you can shop smart, and save time and money.

Top 5 Probiotic Supplements of 2017

Based on our own extensive research, the metrics provided by our Smarter Reviews Ranking System, and consideration of numerous reviews by Smarter Shoppers just like you, we've compiled a list of what we've found to be the top five products in 
this category, on the market today.

Review

Complete Probiotics
Platinum

Total Ranking

647 votes

9.6/10

A+

Overall Grade

  • Ingredient Safety
  • 9.7/10

  • Category Average
  • 8.4/10

  • Projected Effectiveness
  • 9.4/10

  • Category Average
  • 8.1/10

  • Value
  • 9.6/10

  • Category Average
  • 8.2/10

  • Return Policy
  • 9.3/10

  • Category Average
  • 8.8/10

  • Customer Satisfaction
  • 9.8/10

  • Category Average
  • 8/10

Vote and Review

5/10

PROS

  • Contains 50 billion live cultures in each capsule 
  • 11 robust strains
  • Endorsed by an MD 
  • Each vegetarian capsule is specially designed to resist stomach acid
  • NutraFlora Fiber is included to aid in the growth of the Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli strains
  • Only one capsule per day is needed to reach daily serving
  • Has no synthetic fillers or binders
  • Each substrain is listed and has been clinically studied.

CONS

  • Due to popularity, sometimes it's on backorder/sold out
The Bottom Line

Our Smarter Shoppers have voted 1MD's Complete Probiotics Platinum the most popular daily probiotic they tried. It is one of the best formulas on the market, due to its 50 billion live cultures, 11 robust and clinically studied strains, NutraFlora prebiotic fiber, veggie capsule composition, and no synthetic fillers or additives whatsoever.

This was the only product we could find that is actually endorsed by an MD, specifically a Gastroenterologist (gut and digestive health physician). It was also the only one that listed each of its clinically studied substrains. Our Smarter Shoppers absolutely loved this probiotic blend.

*Results are based on the Smarter Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

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Review

Renew Life Ultimate Flora
Critical Care 50 Billion

Total Ranking

310 votes

8.9/10

B+

Overall Grade

  • Ingredient Safety
  • 9.1/10

  • Category Average
  • 8.4/10

  • Projected Effectiveness
  • 8.8/10

  • Category Average
  • 8.1/10

  • Value
  • 9.3/10

  • Category Average
  • 8.2/10

  • Return Policy
  • 9.1/10

  • Category Average
  • 8.8/10

  • Customer Satisfaction
  • 8.3/10

  • Category Average
  • 8/10

Vote and Review

5/10

PROS

  • Provides 50 billion organisms per serving
  • Dairy and gluten free, vegetable capsules

CONS

  • Reports of less capsules in bottle than on label
  • No money-back guarantee
  • Refrigeration recommended for best quality and efficacy
The Bottom Line

Some Smarter Shoppers stated that the storage guidelines of this product was inconvenient.* Although the product contains over 50 billion live cultures, many reviewers believed the product lost its potency due to poor refrigeration by delivery.*

*Results are based on the Smarter Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

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Review

Culturelle Digestive Health
Probiotic Capsules

Total Ranking

328 votes

8.6/10

B+

Overall Grade

  • Ingredient Safety
  • 8.5/10

  • Category Average
  • 8.4/10

  • Projected Effectiveness
  • 8.7/10

  • Category Average
  • 8.1/10

  • Value
  • 8.4/10

  • Category Average
  • 8.2/10

  • Return Policy
  • 9.1/10

  • Category Average
  • 8.8/10

  • Customer Satisfaction
  • 8.2/10

  • Category Average
  • 8/10

Vote and Review

5/10

PROS

  • Can be found in retail stores
  • Dairy and gluten-free, vegetable capsules

CONS

  • Contains unhealthy synthetic fillers
  • Only offers 10 billion CFUs per serving
  • Only contains one probiotic strain, Lactobacillus GG
The Bottom Line

This product only offers one probiotic strain, Lactobacillus GG. In addition, this product only contains 10 billion live cultures. Smarter Shoppers  noticed fairly short expiration dates. This product contains undesirable fillers and added colors such as gelatin, sucrose, maltodextrin, magnesium stearate, and titanium dioxide.*

*Results are based on the Smarter Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

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Review

Align Probiotic Supplement

Total Ranking

581 votes

7.3/10

C

Overall Grade

  • Ingredient Safety
  • 7.7/10

  • Category Average
  • 8.4/10

  • Projected Effectiveness
  • 7/10

  • Category Average
  • 8.1/10

  • Value
  • 7.1/10

  • Category Average
  • 8.2/10

  • Return Policy
  • 8.2/10

  • Category Average
  • 8.8/10

  • Customer Satisfaction
  • 6.5/10

  • Category Average
  • 8/10

Vote and Review

5/10

PROS

  • Does not require refrigeration
  • Found in retail stores
  • Contains Bifidobacterium infantis 35624, a clinically studied strain

CONS

  • Only offers one probiotic strain
  • Contains only 1 billion CFU's
  • Contains unhealthy, synthetic fillers
  • Limited money-back guarantee
The Bottom Line

Smarter Shoppers discovered that this product had a lower CFU than all other products on the list and only offers one probiotic strain. The application of such a product meant a very limited range of health benefits when used. This product also contains some undesirable fillers like magnesium stearate, sodium caseinate, and titanium dioxide (for color).

*Results are based on the Smarter Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

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Review

TruBiotics Daily
Probiotic Supplement

Total Ranking

576 votes

7.1/10

C-

Overall Grade

  • Ingredient Safety
  • 7.1/10

  • Category Average
  • 8.4/10

  • Projected Effectiveness
  • 6.5/10

  • Category Average
  • 8.1/10

  • Value
  • 6.5/10

  • Category Average
  • 8.2/10

  • Return Policy
  • 8.3/10

  • Category Average
  • 8.8/10

  • Customer Satisfaction
  • 7.4/10

  • Category Average
  • 8/10

Vote and Review

5/10

PROS

  • Can be found in retail stores
  • Is a very well-known brand name*
  • Comes in two package sizes: 30 and 45

CONS

  • Only offers 1.5 billion live cultures per capsule
  • Only includes 2 strains
  • Includes fillers such as magnesium stearate and titanium dioxide
  • Does not contain prebiotics
The Bottom Line

TruBiotics is a very popular brand overall since they have the popular One-A-Day vitamins.* However, 1.5 billion live cultures per serving is concerning as a limited provided quantity, and nowhere near the most live cultures we've seen offered among the best brands of probiotic products.* The additives of magnesium stearate and titanium dioxide are also unwanted fillers that do more harm than good.*

*Results are based on the Smarter Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

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Citations

  1. “How Alcohol Affects The Gut Microbiome.” Dr. Edward Group.  08/09/2016. The Global Healing Center.http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/how-alcohol-affects-the-gut-microbiome/
  2. “17 Ways to Protect Your Microbiome and Keep Your Belly Blissful. Dr. Frank Lipman. 04/20/2015. The Be Well Blog. https://www.bewell.com/blog/17-ways-to-protect-your-microbiome/
  3. “How Pollution Affects the Gut Microbiome. Dr. Edward Group. 07/12/2015. The Global Healing Center. http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/how-pollution-affects-the-gut-microbiome/
  4. “Lifestyle Habits That Damage Gut Bacteria.” Dr. David Williams. http://www.drdavidwilliams.com/lifestyle-habits-that-damage-gut-bacteria/
  5. Laberge, M. http://www.diet.com/g/digestive-diseases (accessed 18, August 2015).
  6. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 Feb;67(2):161-7.
  7. Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2013;358:273-89.
  8. Br J Nutr. 2013 May 28;109(10):1866-72.
  9. Nutr Hosp. 2011 Jan-Feb;26(1):228-35.
  10. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2013 Jan;22(1):46-51.
  11. Pediatr Int. 2012 Oct;54(5):682-7.
  12. Anaerobe. 2012 Aug;18(4):405-13.

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Author

Tom

Tom is a lifelong nutrition enthusiast who recently retired from his career in pharmacology to write about natural health. When he isn't researching health products, Tom enjoys exploring local farmers markets and growing his own organic vegetables.

Tom at tom@smarter-reviews.com

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