Are you experiencing digestive discomfort? Have you taken a course of antibiotics and since then, you just haven’t felt quite right? Are you suffering from an overgrowth of Candida? You are not alone. Gastrointestinal issues are very common. It is reported that 70 million U.S. citizens suffer from digestive issues. (1)
Thankfully, there are nutritional supplements that you can take to alleviate some of the uncomfortable or even painful symptoms that you are experiencing.
Probiotics are supplements containing beneficial bacteria that live naturally in your body when you are healthy. There is a myriad of products available containing a wide range of different bacterial strains.
To receive the most benefit from a probiotic, you need to single out the right one for you and your situation.
Choosing the most effective probiotic for Candida can be confusing, but this guide will help!
Five Questions to Ask When Choosing a Probiotic Supplement
There are so many probiotic supplements on the market that it can be difficult to choose between them. This probiotics buyers’ guide will help you to find a good brand that will improve your gut health and help you to beat Candida.
There are five questions to ask when you buy a probiotic supplement. Let’s take a look!
Question #1: Will The Bacteria In The Probiotic Reach Your Gut?
When you take other supplements or medication such as vitamins, antibiotics, or analgesics, they reach the acidic environment in your stomach and quickly begin to break down. For most types of medication, that is exactly what you want to happen. This process does not damage the medication, and it will still deliver the desired effect.
The challenge with supplements containing live bacteria is that you don’t want them to deliver their contents into the stomach. You need those probiotic bacteria to safely reach the intestine, where they can begin to do their job and restore balance to your gut.
For this reason, we recommend using probiotics that have a system for getting their bacteria past stomach acid. The best of these systems is BIO-tract. It’s the only controlled-release technology available for probiotics on the market today, and it’s by far the best option for your probiotic.
Traditional probiotics use vegetable capsules which are not really suited to probiotic bacteria. Tests have shown that they deliver only around 4% of their probiotic bacteria to the intestines. The remaining 96% are exposed to stomach acid and die before they reach your gut.
Have you taken probiotics in the past and found that they had no positive effect? You’re not alone. If hardly any of the bacteria getting where they need to be, it would be unrealistic to expect results.
Probiotics with BIO-tract deliver 60% of their bacteria past stomach acid. That’s 15 times more than regular probiotics in vegetable capsules, and it means that your gut will benefit from most of the probiotic bacteria contained within your supplement.
How does it work? The probiotic tablets react with moisture in your gastrointestinal tract, forming a protective layer around the probiotic bacteria and getting them safely past your stomach acid.
Once the tablet reaches your gut, it slowly releases the good bacteria throughout the day and along the intestines. An extra benefit of this is that you can take your probiotic whenever it is convenient, without worrying about taking it with or without meals.
You are also safe in the knowledge that the helpful bacteria you need are reaching your gut and not being lost in the stomach. You will receive the full benefit of your probiotic, without wasting your time or money.
Question #2: How Many Billion CFUs Of Bacteria Does It Contain?
CFU stands for colony forming unit, and it tells us the level of live and active bacteria that we can find in a dose of probiotic. It doesn’t give the whole picture, but it does give us one way to compare probiotics.
In general terms: the higher the CFU count, the more effective that probiotic is.
Although you should also be aware of how many bacteria your probiotic will actually deliver to your gut.
Not all probiotics inform you how many CFUs they contain. Be wary. A probiotic should contain at least 10 billion CFUs for it to be useful for an adult, or at least 5 billion CFUs for children. (2)
If you are looking at a probiotic and it doesn’t clearly state the CFU count, then consider a different brand.
The higher the CFU count, the greater the amount of useful bacteria will reach your intestines where it can get to work healing your body. No one has ever overdosed on probiotics – the worst side effect you are likely to see is some bloating or stomach cramps. Therefore, finding a high CFU is your safest bet.
Question #3: Which Strains Of Bacteria Does It Contain?
Along with CFU count, another important thing to take note of is the strains of bacteria that are found in the probiotic.
This can be confusing – there are countless different strains, and some of them sound very similar!
Thankfully there has been a considerable amount of research on probiotic bacteria in the last decade. We are now confident which strains will benefit us the most, and which we should take if we have any specific health conditions.
The reasoning for taking a probiotic will dictate which bacterial strains are most suitable for you. Some of the best bacterial strains to look for in a probiotic are:
This bacterium is highly adhesive, clinging to the intestinal wall and promoting gut healing. It is excellent at fighting bacteria and yeast that cause us problems, such as E. coli and Candida albicans.
L. plantarum helps to protect the membrane that surrounds your gut. Because of these properties, it is an excellent choice for anyone suffering from irritable bowel disease or colitis.
Studies have found that this tough bacterium can survive in severe environments and even with simultaneous antibiotic treatment. If you need to take antibiotics and want to avoid overgrowth of yeast, L. plantarum is an ideal choice for a probiotic. (3)
Very few of us in Western populations have a significant population of L. plantarum in our digestive tracts, due to our high sugar, alcohol and fat diets. However, in those with a healthy diet such as in indigenous African tribes, it flourishes.
L. plantarum has been shown to affect cancer development, improve nutrient extraction from food, lower inflammation, and improve symptoms of digestive health.
L. paracasei has powerful antibacterial properties and can impede the growth of common pathogenic agents including E. coli and Candida albicans, as proved in a study where researchers fed mice fermented milk that was laced with L. paracasei. It was found that their gut microflora was improved and that the colonization of Candida was inhibited. (4)
L. paracasei is also extremely useful as a tool against Porphyromonas gingivalis, which causes periodontal disease.
L. acidophilus is perhaps the most well-known and well-researched of probiotic bacteria. It displays remarkable potency in the battle against Candida and has been shown to significantly inhibit the rate at which the yeast grows. This is one of most effective probiotic bacteria against Candida albicans. (5,6)
L. acidophilus produces lactic acid as a byproduct of its metabolism. This helps to regulate acidity in your gut, boost your immune system, and prevent Candida albicans from switching to its fungal form (it needs an alkaline environment to do this).
This remarkable microbe has also been found to lower cholesterol, prevent and treat diarrhea, negate the effects of irritable bowel syndrome, promote weight loss, lessen the symptoms of colds and flu, reduce allergies and eczema, and is an excellent bacterium for improving gut health.
What about Soil-Based or Spore-Forming Bacteria?
You might have come across probiotic supplements that contain soil-based or spore-forming bacteria. These can be good options for some people, but they come with a note of caution.
The advantage of these products is that the bacteria they contain are very hardy. They survive the passage to the gut very well, and they are so virulent that you need far fewer of them in your supplement.
That brings us to the downsides. When they are introduced into a weakened and imbalanced microbiome, they grow fast and have the potential to result in an overgrowth of their own. The risk is that you would effectively be giving yourself SIBO.
Soil-based probiotics are also much less-researched than the lactic acid-based bacteria mentioned above. Many of the research studies are commissioned by brands and have potential for bias.
We would recommend sticking with strains of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria that have been researched for decades and proven to be safe through repeated, widespread use.
Question #4: How Many Different Strains Of Bacteria Are Included?
Your gut microbiome can consist of 1000 different species of bacteria. So, when you pick a probiotic, it makes sense to opt for one that has a variety of strains. Your gut microbiome works as a team, with the different strains of bacteria having different talents. You should try to replicate this as far as possible with the probiotic that you choose.
Research which strains would be the most advantageous to you personally and then select the probiotic that has the greatest proportion of these different species. The different strains will act in harmony to heal you.
Look for a probiotic that has at least 5 strains of bacteria, and preferably many more.
Question #5: Are There Any Other Ingredients That Might Damage Your Gut Health?
Tablets and capsules always include additional filler ingredients besides the active drug or supplement in question. These are usually included to lengthen its shelf life, sweeten it, or make the probiotic easier to pour into capsules.
You should take care to read the ingredients label carefully. These extra substances can often be quite damaging to your gut health. Other ingredients might be allergens or substances that could hurt your health in some other way.
Some manufacturers use gluten, nuts, dairy products or animal products in their probiotics. This could spell big trouble for you if you are allergic to them, if you suffer from conditions such as celiac disease, or if you are a vegetarian or vegan.
Be particularly careful to avoid supplements that contain large amounts of gums. These are commonly used in some ‘gummy’ vitamins and probiotics. The gums used in these formulations are a gut irritant that will likely compromise your gut health and worsen your Candida symptoms. Examples are gellen gum and xanthan gum.
Also watch out for unnecessary sweeteners. These sugars can come in many different forms, like sugar, sucralose, maltodextrin, and more. Some of these sweeteners can feed pathogenic bacteria and yeast, others are gut irritants, but none of them are really necessary in a high-quality formulation.
You may see Fructooligosaccharide (FOS) listed on the ingredients. This isn’t a filler; it’s what we refer to as a prebiotic. What prebiotics do is to offer a source of food for the bacteria in the probiotic. This gives the probiotic bacteria a greater chance to survive all the way down to your gut.
Taking large amounts of prebiotics like FOS can be problematic as they can feed SIBO or Candida, but the small amounts in a probiotic supplement are absolutely fine. Opt for a probiotic where FOS well down the list of ingredients.
The Best Probiotic For Candida
If you apply these five tests to probiotic supplements on the market today, you’ll find very few that pass. That’s why we worked with Balance ONE to design a probiotic supplement that fulfills all of these criteria.
Our recommended probiotic for Candida is the Balance ONE Probiotic. It uses BIO-tract technology, contains 15 billion CFUs of bacteria, has 12 probiotic strains, and is made in the USA. It’s the only probiotic that we recommend for Candida overgrowth.
When Should You Take Your probiotic?
You’ve spent a lot of time finding the right probiotic, and you want to reap the maximum possible benefit from it. So, what time of day should you take it? This is where things can become confusing.
Different brands of probiotics have different instructions, the salesperson told you one thing, and you’ve read something else on the internet. When is the right time to take it?
Your lower gastrointestinal tract is where probiotic bacteria are most effective, but they need to be alive when they reach their destination. Not such an easy task if you consider that your highly acidic stomach lies in between.
The best approach, as demonstrated by multiple research studies, is to take your probiotic when your stomach contents are at their least acidic. This gives your probiotic bacteria the greatest chance of successfully arriving where they need to be.
A meal containing healthy fats will aid in further protecting the probiotic bacteria from your stomach acid. (7)
Take your probiotic directly after you have eaten, so your stomach isn’t empty and is no longer highly acidic. An empty stomach has a pH of around 2. After a meal the pH rises to 7, which is neutral. Probiotics that are taken with a meal withstand the weaker stomach acid much better than those taken without food.
The advantage of taking your supplement immediately after eating is that your meal will buffer the acid, and your probiotic will have a higher likelihood of reaching your gut. It also means that there will be extra nourishment for the newly-introduced probiotic bacteria to grow and flourish in your gut.
If you take a probiotic that uses a controlled-release system like BIO-tract, this is less of an issue. Whether you take your probiotic with food or not, the tablets will release their probiotic bacteria slowly over the course of 8-10 hours. This means that the majority will end up in your gut, no matter what time of day you take them.
Delivery systems like this take a lot of the stress and decision-making out of taking your probiotic. It also makes life easier when you’re traveling, on the road, or just have a busy life to manage.
- Take your probiotic during or immediately after a meal
- A meal containing fats is even better
- If your probiotic uses BIO-tract, the timing is less important
Take Any Other Medications Into Account
If you are taking antibiotics, it is highly recommended to take a good probiotic supplement to maintain your gut and digestive health. (8)
However, you need to be extra careful when you take your probiotic. Leave at least two hours between taking your probiotic supplement and taking your antibiotic. That avoids any chance of the antibiotic killing the probiotic bacteria before they reach your gut.
The same goes for any other supplements with antibiotic properties, such as olive leaf, oregano oil, or caprylic acid. These natural antifungals are commonly taken by those suffering from Candida, but many don’t realize that they can kill bacteria too. Make sure that you leave 2 hours between taking your antifungal and your probiotic.
Why Choosing The Right Probiotic Is So Important
The Gut Microbiome
Researchers are increasingly aware of how important the gut microbiome is to every aspect of your health and well-being. “Microbiome” is the umbrella term that we use for the multitudes of microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, and fungi that inhabit our intestines.
Although some of these microbes can cause disease, the majority of them are vital for the correct functioning of your digestive system, mental state, cardiovascular condition, weight management and many other elements of your physical condition. (9, 10)
Your gut microbiome is a very significant part of your existence. In the average human body, there are around 30 trillion cells. This is considerably less than the 40 trillion cells of bacterial origin. There are approximately 1000 different bacterial species that make up your gut microbiome. In other words, your body is more bacterial than human! (11)
This colony of microbes weighs between 2 and 5 pounds, which is similar in weight to the liver, and with a role that is just as critical. It is vital for your overall health that you keep your microbiome healthy and functioning optimally.
Gut dysbiosis is when this balance is lost
A robust gut microbiome is in perfect harmony. When this stability is upset by stress, antibiotics, alcohol, or by your diet, then gut dysbiosis can occur. (12)
Overgrowth of the yeast Candida albicans is one form of gut dysbiosis. It can cause a huge range of symptoms including digestive problems, fatigue, food cravings, recurring yeast infections, skin problems, and more.
For this reason, it is imperative to keep the gut biome as balanced as you can. Probiotics are one way that you can help your intestines to overcome dysbiosis. (13)
The benefits of probiotics are proven
Commercial probiotic supplements have risen in popularity since the 1930s when the Japanese microbiologist Minoru Shirota first isolated the bacterial strain Lactobacillus paracasei.
Since then, there has been a considerable body of research that shows the usefulness of probiotics for a wide range of conditions. The conditions helped by probiotics include those that affect many different areas of the body including diabetes, acne, skin aging, allergies, mental disorders, and cardiovascular issues. Scientists are discovering more applications for probiotics every year. (14, 15)
The focus on probiotic use has historically been for use in intestinal disorders, and this remains the area in which they are most frequently utilized. Probiotics can aid your digestion and overall gut health, and even support your immune system in the fight against Candida overgrowth. (16)
Probiotics improve digestion and gut health
At some point, we have all suffered from stomach cramps, excess gas or diarrhea, often following a course of antibiotics. Unfortunately, antibiotics are very efficient at killing bacteria, but they are not that discriminating, meaning that they can also kill the helpful bacteria that we need for proper digestion.
When the delicate balance of the gut microbiome is thrown off, harmful bacteria and yeasts like Candida can proliferate, causing uncomfortable symptoms. Thankfully, probiotics are an excellent way of restoring the equilibrium of good bacteria and ensuring that your digestion returns to its ideal state.
Your digestion will suffer if you have an unhealthy gut, but it can also have negative consequences on many other aspects of your well-being, from your skin to your oral health. It is vital to maintain a high-level of functionality in your digestive system. And probiotics are an easy, convenient way to help to maintain optimal gut health. (17)
A high-quality probiotic can boost the state of your gut with the good bacteria that you need to keep the bad ones in check. The critical thing to remember is that the emphasis here is on “high-quality.” Not all probiotics are made equal. Take your time and find one that is worth investing in.
Boosting your immune system with probiotics
If I asked you where your stomach was located, or your heart or liver, you would probably have some idea. What about if I asked about your immune system? Now that’s got you thinking!
You may be surprised to learn that the most significant proportion of your immune system can be found in your digestive tract. (18)
As you can imagine, a healthy gut is essential for an equally robust immune system. Beneficial gut bacteria ensure that the immune system receptor cells on the walls of the intestines are in top condition.
A vigorous gut microbiome is a powerful adjunct to your immune system. Aiding and enhancing the beneficial bacteria in your digestive system is one of the most effective things you can do for your well-being.
Probiotics to heal from Candida overgrowth
Intestinal Candida overgrowth is a form of dysbiosis. It occurs when the good bacteria are disrupted by some external force like diet or antibiotics, and the Candida yeast has the opportunity to proliferate.
It is essential to pick a probiotic with the correct strains of bacteria to displace the overgrowth of Candida from the gut. Probiotic strains like L. acidophilus and L. paracasei have been shown to demonstrate anti-Candidal activity. Select a probiotic that has the strains you need to heal from Candida.
The Bottom Line
Probiotics have scientifically-proven benefits for digestion, immunity, and more. They have also been shown to aid recovery from intestinal Candida overgrowth.
When choosing a probiotic supplement, there are several factors to consider. The most important of these is whether it will be able to deliver its probiotics past your stomach acid. Probiotics that use the BIO-tract system are generally most effective at doing this.
Also look at the CFU count, the number of probiotic strains, and the exact strains that the probiotic includes. Be wary of probiotics that contain potentially harmful additives like gums or sweeteners.
We recommend the Balance ONE probiotic. It uses BIO-tract technology to compress its probiotic bacteria into tablets, which are then able to bypass your stomach acid and reach your gut. It contains 15 billion CFUs of bacteria, 12 probiotic strains, and no unnecessary ingredients that might harm your gut.
The Balance ONE Probiotic is our preferred probiotic, and the only one that we recommend for Candida overgrowth.
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If you're looking for a more comprehensive Candida treatment plan, check out the Ultimate Candida Diet program, written by Lisa Richards and Dr Eric Wood. This plan is based on the latest research into Candida Related Complex, and contains everything you need to know to beat your Candida overgrowth.