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5 Probiotics That Will Transform Your Gut Health in 2022

What top scientists are discovering about our gut and how it can dramatically affect the quality of our lives.

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Many people turn to popular restrictive diets in order to rid themselves of digestive issues. However, when it comes to improving digestive health, most diets usually fall short. That’s because they don't address the underlying problem - gut health.

Most modern foods lack the vital nutrients needed to maintain a balanced gut. In fact, new studies are showing that the gut directly impacts our digestion, lungs, heart, and even our brain health. So when bad bacteria outnumbers the good, it can negatively impact various parts of our health.

It’s no surprise many people are turning to probiotics to improve their overall health. But you’ll want to be careful because not all probiotics are created equal. And with so much clutter on the market it's tough to know which ones are actually effective.

That’s why the Smarter Reviews team explains exactly what to look for and what to avoid before buying a probiotic. We also reveal the top 5 digestive probiotics on the market today.

6 Ways Probiotics Can Skyrocket Your Health

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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. 

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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.

5 Things All Effective Probiotics Must Have

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.

Proof of Results

Hundreds of brands make bold claims about their results, but the best probiotics for digestion are backed up by customer surveys. We've vetted all the top brands to see which ones have a proven track record of great results.

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:

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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

There are many different strains of probiotics and each one provides a different benefit. So it’s important to choose a supplement with a variety of “gut buddies.”

While most probiotics feature only one or two strains — we recommend looking for a formula with at least 9 unique strains to boost your overall health and wellbeing.

Low CFU Count

Colony Forming Units — or CFUs — is another important piece of the “probiotic puzzle.” It highlights the exact number of beneficial bacteria you’re getting in each dose. The bigger the number, the bigger the health benefits. Our research suggests the optimal number of CFUs is 45 billion and above.

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. Therefore, we suggest choosing a probiotic that is shelf-stable and does need to be stored in the refrigerator.  

Top 5 Probiotic Supplements of 2022

Our #1 Pick

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Complete Probiotics Platinum™ by 1MD Nutrition

Doctor-made, 51 billion CFU probiotic with 11 strains, 2 prebiotics, & more

Promotes Digestive Comfort

Helps Improve Regularity

Supports Energy & Mood

The Bottom Line

Between its comprehensive, doctor-made formula and outstanding customer satisfaction, 1MD Nutrition's Complete Probiotics Platinum® is a standout #1.

Formulated by a gastroenterologist, this powerful probiotic contains a robust 51 billion CFUs, 11 comprehensive strains, and clinically backed NutraFlora® prebiotic. Plus, this potent formula is free from fillers and an acid-resistant coating ensures all that good bacteria can provide your gut with the best support.

Finally, 1MD Nutrition™ backs up every purchase with an impressive 90-day money-back guarantee. We can confidently call Complete Probiotics Platinum® our #1 probiotic of 2022.

Smarter Reviews was able to locate an impressive 2021 survey on this product:

- 90% customer satisfaction**
- 97% who switched to Complete Probiotics Platinum® said it's the best probiotic they've tried**
- Over 80% reported improvements in regularity, bloating, and indigestion**

*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.

**Based on a survey of 312 1MD Nutrition customers who have made more than one purchase of Complete Probiotics Platinum.

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   Runner Up   

Pro-45  
by Live Conscious

Impressive formula that lacks MD endorsement

✔ Provides 45 billion live cultures

✔ 11 clinically proven strains

No MD endorsement

The Bottom Line

Live Conscious came in at a respectable #2 on our list, with a potent 45 billion CFUs and 11 strains.

Pro45 offers vegetarian delayed-release capsules and pure ingredients without unhealthy fillers or additives. We also checked its 365-day return policy and were impressed by how easy and straightforward it was. Our Smarter Shoppers gave this product high marks in the categories of customer service, returns, and overall effectiveness.

Unfortunately, it's not endorsed by an MD, but easy to order through their Amazon store. Though the reviews were stellar and ingredients are pure, the lack of medical endorsement led this product to come in a close second on our top picks.* 

*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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  #1 "Basics" Formula  

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Extra Care 50 Billion                     by Renew Life

High dosage but lacks prebiotic punch

50 billion CFU per serving

Lacks prebiotics

 No guarantee

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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  Best Budget  

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Digestive Health Probiotic          by Culturelle

Lower potency in this budget-friendly option

Vegetarian capsule

Weak formula

✖ Lacks prebiotics

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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   Decent Match  

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Primal Probiotics
by Primal Harvest

Some prebiotics but contains fillers

Contains 12 probiotic strains

 Low CFUs

Includes fillers

The Bottom Line

Primal Probiotics contains a respectable 12 separate strains of clinically-studied probiotics.

Where Primal Harvest falls short, however, is that it contains only two prebiotic fibers, whereas several are needed to feed the various strains. Unfortunately, this product also has fillers such as magnesium stearate, which are completely unnecessary.

Still, its commitment to clinically studied strains and shelf-stable bottle give it an edge over many other probiotics.

*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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