Probiotics for Adult Health


This article was made possible due to an unrestricted educational grant from Activia (Danone Canada). Written in collaboration with Dragana Skokovic-Sunjic BScPh RPh NCMP, AEProbio

So, now that we’re experts on probiotics, what sort of conditions and diagnoses could you treat with probiotics?  

While probiotics for adult health can be applied to a broad spectrum of conditions, they should not be considered a magic bullet that can cure everything. Probiotics are defined 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.  

Probiotics have only been identified as a treatment for specific conditions and for symptom relief. 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. 

For probiotics in adult gut health, clinical evidence supports the use of probiotics for: 

  • Constipation 
  • Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) 
  • Antibiotic-associated and Clostridium difficile associated diarrhea (AAD, CDAD) 
  • As a supplement to standard therapy for Helicobacter pylori treatment 
  • Prevention of traveller’s diarrhea 
  • Prevention of common infectious diseases (cold and flu) 

With so many probiotics available on the market – how do you choose which one is best for child? Well, 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 every single problem that ails our patients, but some of the most significant and most impactful solutions can be easily obtained by using a specific probiotic under specific conditions. I like to say “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… but how wrong they are…  

The issue of choosing the right probiotic for the right reasons has been addressed in the Clinical Guide to Probiotic Products. 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 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 table makes it easy for you to find the product that has clinical evidence for your specific condition:  

AAD Antibiotic associated diarrhea – prevention  
BV Bacterial vaginosis 
C Constipation 
CDAD Clostridium difficile associated diarrhea – prevention 
CID Common infectious disease – Community acquired  
CMPA Cow Milk Protein Allergy  
HP Helicobacter pylori – Adjunct to standard eradication therapy 
IBD-P Inflammatory bowel disease – Pouchitis 
IBD-UC  Inflammatory bowel disease – ulcerative colitis – adjunct to standard therapy  
IBSIrritable Bowel Syndrome
LHLiver Health (NASH/NAFLD/MHE; as adjunct to standard therapy; see studies for specific population) 
M/AMood and Affect (symptoms related to stress/anxiety; not a substitute for standard treatment)  
OH Oral health (reductions of tonsillitis, laryngitis, and dental caries)  
TDTravelers diarrhea prevention 
VDVulvovaginal candidiasis 
WMWeight 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 and requires refrigeration.  

For example, if you suffer from constipation – probiotics can help. Referring to the probiotic guide under the adult health page, under the indication for constipation – you would see that there are 6 products in the 2019 edition that have favorable published clinical evidence on relieving constipation – 5 of which have level I evidence: 

Online Video Demonstration

As you can see the following five probiotic brands and strains have level I evidence for constipation in adults.  It also indicates the dosage form – whether it be drops, tablets, capsules, etc and the number of doses you should be taking per day.  

  1. Activia 
    B. (animalis) lactis CNCM I-2494 
    1-3 servings / day  
  2. BioGaia® ProTectis® Baby Drops
    L. reuteri DSM 17938 
    5 drops / day  
  3. BioGaia® ProTectis® Baby Drops with Vitamin D 
    L. reuteri DSM 17938 
    5 drops / day 
  4. BioGaia® ProTectis® Chew tabs 
      L. reuteri DSM 17938 1 chewable tablet/day-  BioGaia® Junior
  5. Probiotic Tablets with Vitamin D
    L. reuteri DSM 17938 1 chewable tablet/day

See the full guide to review brands and strains for other conditions online at 

App Store or Google Play: PROBIOTIC GUIDE