How to Find Functional Foods with Added Probiotics

CDHF

Written by: CDHF

Updated: February 8th, 2023

The World Health Organization defines probiotics as ‘Live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host’. In plain language, probiotics are “good microbes.” These friendly microbes help us digest food, maintain health and fight disease. 

You may think probiotics are only available in supplement form, but some of the most common probiotics are offered in foods including fortified yogurts, drinks, and even formulas for children! However, these should be taken with the same caution as probiotic supplements, as not all functional foods with probiotics or “live cultures” have evidence to support their benefits.

 It’s important that you talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or dietitian first before taking a probiotic, to ensure you have a proper diagnosis, or know why you are taking it. Together, you can select an appropriate probiotic that is the most suitable for you. 

The issue of choosing the right probiotic for the right reasons has been addressed in the Clinical Guide to Probiotic Products.

The Clinical Guide to Probiotic Products is an evidence-based decision-making tool for clinicians, which is independently prepared and updated every year. This project has been going on since 2008, and has been recognized as the only reliable resource by international healthcare associations providing health care professionals and consumers with a list of probiotic formulations that have been specifically clinically tested – so they can select the appropriate product, dose, and formulation for a specific indication. Alliance for Education on Probiotics (AEProbio) supports publishing and distribution of this Guide.  

Within the Guide, the recommendations are tied to brand names, making it easier for you to select the recommended product when purchasing in stores. Probiotic strain names and doses are also listed. Favorable published clinical evidence for the particular strain(s) presented in each product are given and include numerous gastrointestinal conditions.  

The handy acronym list makes it easy for you to find the functional food that has clinical evidence for your specific condition: 

There, you will also be able to compare the functional foods based on the level of evidence, as it is graded with a I, II, or III, with level I being the highest level: 

level of evidence indicator on probiotic chart

To make things even EASIER, the guide also includes symbols to indicate whether or not the product is gluten free, requires refrigeration and/or has been approved by Health Canada.

probiotic chart symbols

So, for example – if you are an adult looking for a functional food with added probiotics that may help with the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, there are two functional foods that have level I clinical evidence to support it. Referring to the Clinical Guide for Probiotic Products under the functional foods indication (page 15 of the PDF), you would find:

functional foods level of evidence on clinical guide to probiotic products

See the full guide to review brands and strains for other conditions online at Probioticchart.ca or download the PDF.

How to Use the Guide:

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Download on the App Store
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Get it on Google Play

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