Probiotics for Adult Health
What sort of conditions and diagnoses could benefit from the use of probiotics for adults?
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” that are meant to help the person taking them. These friendly microbes help us digest food, maintain health and fight disease.
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.
Choosing a Probiotic
It’s important to note that not ALL adults need to take probiotics. Probiotics might not be appropriate for all patients. They are not the solution for everything, but some of the most significant and most impactful solutions can be easily obtained by using a specific probiotic under specific conditions. You need to use the right probiotic, for the right person, for the right reason.
With so many products available, and so much chatter around this “hot topic”, it’s no wonder that people are having trouble choosing the right probiotic. What often happens is that people will take something labelled “probiotic”, or “live bacterial cultures”, but as these products often aren’t right for their diagnosis, the patient won’t see any health difference and assume that probiotics just don’t work.
Selecting the proper probiotic for the symptoms you wish to relieve can be confusing. The Clinical Guide to Probiotic Products can help you select a probiotic that has been proven effective in reputable scientific studies. The Clinical Guide 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 Clinical Guide to Probiotic Products, 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 product that has clinical evidence for your specific condition:
- AAD– Antibiotic associated diarrhea (prevention)
- C- Constipation
- CDAD– Clostridium difficile associated diarrhea (prevention)
- CID– Common infectious disease (community acquired)
- HP– Helicobacter pylori (adjunt to standard eradication therapy)
- IBD-P – Inflammatory bowel disease- Pouchitis
- IBD-UC – IBD- Ulcerative Colitis (adjunct to standard therapy)
- IBS– Irritable bowel syndrome
- ID– Infectious diarrhea
- LDL-C – Reduces LDL and total cholesterol
- LH– Liver Health (NASH/NAFLD/MHE; as adjunct to standard therapy)
- M/A– Mood and Affect (symptoms related to stress/anxiety; not a substitute for standard treatment)
- Mastitis– Mastitis in breastfeeding mothers (treatment and prevention)
- OH– Oral health (reductions of tonsillitis, laryngitis and dental caries)
- TD– Traveller’s diarrhea prevention
- WM– Weight management (aids in reduction of body weight, body fat mass and waist circumference)
There, you will also be able to compare products based on the level of evidence, as it is graded with a I, II, or III, with level I being the highest level:
- Level I:
- Evidence obtained from at least one properly designed randomize trial
- Level II:
- Evidence obtained from well-designed controlled trials without randomization
- Evidence obtained from well-designed cohort or case-control analytic studies, preferably from more than one centre or research group
- Evidence obtained from multiple time series with or without intervention. Dramatic results in uncontrolled trials might also be regarded as this type of evidence.
- Level III:
- Opinions of respected authorities, based on clinical experience, descriptive studies, or reports of expert committees.
To make things even easier, the guide also includes symbols to indicate whether or not the product is gluten free, requires refrigeration and is considered a functional food.
For example, if you are an adult who suffers from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)– probiotics can help. Referring to the probiotic guide under the adult health page (pages 7-9 of the PDF), under the indication for IBS – you would see that there are 10 products in the 2023 edition that have favourable published clinical evidence on relieving IBS symptoms – 5 of which have level I evidence. They are listed below:
- Bio-K+® IBS Pro
- Digestive CareTM 10 Billion Daily Probiotic
- Purica Probiotic Intensive GI
- UltraFlora® Intensive Care
How to Use the Guide:
See the full guide to review brands and strains for other conditions online at Probioticchart.ca or download the PDF.
Written in collaboration with Dragana Skokovic-Sunjic BScPh RPh NCMP, AEProbio.