Probiotics: Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, & More

Probiotic supplements have gained in popularity due to what we now know about their potential health benefits. Nowadays, a wide range of probiotics is available, making it challenging to choose the right one for your needs. 

Below, we discuss why you should consider including them in your health regimen by looking at the facts behind them. These supplements cater to various health concerns, including digestive support, immune health, and women’s health. 

2023 Guide to Top Probiotic Supplements for Health

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts. Contrary to the general belief that these microorganisms are harmful, the human body houses both beneficial and harmful bacteria, and probiotics are the “good” type, aiding the body to function smoothly.


Probiotics are live bacterial microorganisms that provide health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. They are essential for maintaining a balanced gut microbiome, which is the collection of beneficial microbes living in your digestive system.


Two primary groups of bacteria used in probiotic supplements are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.


Each group of bacteria contains various strains that offer unique health benefits. Some common probiotic strains include Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium longum, Bacillus coagulans, Streptococcus thermophilus, Enterococcus faecium, and Escherichia coli Nissle 1917. Look out for these names on the labels of products. 

It is important to choose a probiotic supplement containing the appropriate strains for your specific health needs.


In addition to bacteria, certain yeasts like Saccharomyces boulardii can also function as probiotics. These yeasts contribute to gut health and can support digestion, especially in individuals sensitive to bacterial probiotics.

Fermented foods such as kombucha and yogurt are natural sources of beneficial bacteria and yeasts and may complement probiotic supplements in promoting your overall gut health.

Why Are Probiotics Important?

Probiotics are living microorganisms, primarily bacteria that can benefit your health when consumed in adequate amounts. They reside in your gut microbiome, a complex ecosystem of microbes that plays a crucial role in your overall well-being.

Why Are Probiotics Important

Your gut health is directly affected by the type and balance of bacteria present. A healthy gut microbiome is vital for proper nutrient absorption, toxin elimination, and immune function support.

Including probiotics in your daily diet can promote a healthy gut and contribute to improved overall health. However, not all probiotics are created equal. It is essential to choose the right strain and dosage that suits your individual needs.

What Are the Benefits of Taking Probiotics?

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that support various aspects of your health. By introducing them to your system, you can experience positive effects on your gut, mood, and immune function.

Reduce Bloating

Probiotics have been praised for their ability to ease digestive ailments, particularly bloating. Certain strains, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis, can optimize gut flora, balancing the microbiome to facilitate more efficient digestion and reduce gas production.

A good probiotic regimen in your health routine can prove beneficial in combating bloating. The bacterial strains present in these supplements work to break down food more effectively. Opt for a product rich in diverse strains for an all-encompassing approach to gastrointestinal health.

Improve Immune Function

Probiotics are essential for bolstering immune function. A wide variety of bacterial strains, like Lactobacillus casei and Bifidobacterium bifidum, enhance the body’s natural defenses, reducing susceptibility to infections and supporting overall health.

Improve Immune Function

Regular intake of probiotic supplements supports the gut’s residential protective bacteria, which represent an essential part of the immune system. This fortification aids in creating a healthier internal environment, empowering the immune system to respond efficiently to health threats.

Improve Vaginal Health

Probiotic supplements have proven beneficial for vaginal health. Strains like Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri help maintain an acidic environment, inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria, thus promoting vaginal health and preventing infections.

Improve Vaginal Health

Regular consumption of probiotics can support a healthy vaginal microbiome. They restore the balance of bacteria, assist in maintaining an optimal pH level, and serve as a preventive strategy against yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis.

Gut Health

Multiple studies link gut health to mood and mental well-being. By taking probiotics, you may notice an improvement in your overall mental health and a positive effect on your mood.

Gut Health

In summary, probiotics provide numerous health benefits, from supporting gut and vaginal health to improving immune function, mental health, and mood. 

How to Choose the Best Probiotic Supplement for You

Firstly, look for a reputable brand that guarantees viable bacteria up until the expiration date.


Dosage matters, too. Check the colony-forming units (CFUs) count, which indicates the number of live bacteria in each serving.


Aim for a product with 5-10 billion CFUs for maintenance or 10-20 billion CFUs for specific gut health issues.


Choose a capsule form if you prefer convenience. Some probiotic supplements come in powder form, which can be mixed with food or beverages, but capsules are typically easier to use.


Select a shelf-stable product if possible. This ensures your probiotic supplement will maintain its potency without refrigeration. However, be sure to follow the storage instructions on the label.

Do You Need a Probiotic Supplement?

Probiotic supplements can be beneficial if you experience digestive issues such as diarrhea, bloating, or IBS. They contain beneficial bacteria that can improve digestion and promote a healthy gut environment.

Do You Need a Probiotic Supplement

Choosing the right supplement is crucial. Look for one with a variety of bacteria strains and a high CFU (colony-forming unit) count. High CFU ensures you’re receiving enough live bacteria to experience health benefits.

Side Effects

Side effects from probiotics are generally mild, but if you experience abdominal pain, bloating, or increased gas, it’s essential to discuss these with your doctor.

Side Effects

These could be symptoms of an underlying issue, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or Crohn’s disease.

Pre-Existing Conditions

People suffering from antibiotic-associated diarrhea or infectious diarrhea should also consult their doctor, who can then recommend a specific probiotic strain that may help alleviate your symptoms.

Probiotics could be useful for people with gastrointestinal conditions such as IBS, IBD, or ulcerative colitis, but talk with your doctor first to determine the best course of action. 

Pre-Existing Conditions

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are another area where probiotics might be beneficial. However, consult your doctor about the potential benefits and risks of using probiotics for UTI prevention and recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which probiotic supplements are best for IBS?

For individuals with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), specific strains like Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 may provide relief.

Consult your healthcare professional to determine the most suitable option for your condition.

Why should I take probiotic supplements?

Probiotic supplements can enhance the balance of “good” bacteria in your gut. 

Why should I take probiotic supplements

This helps boost your immune system, improve digestion, and aid in nutrient absorption – contributing to overall health.

Are there any side effects of probiotic supplements?

Probiotics are generally considered safe. However, people with weak immune systems or severe illnesses may experience adverse effects.

Are there any side effects of probiotic supplements

Mild side effects for first-time users can include gas and bloating, which typically subside after a while. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any supplementation regimen.

What are some dietitian-approved probiotic foods?

Kefir, kimchi, yogurt, sauerkraut, and kombucha are natural sources of probiotics.

What are some dietitian-approved probiotic foods

Including these foods in your diet can help support a diverse and balanced gut microbiome.

How can I determine the right probiotic supplement for my needs?

Consider your health goals, dietary restrictions, and any specific concerns. Consult a dietitian or healthcare professional for personalized advice.

How can I determine the right probiotic supplement for my needs

Look for products with clinically studied strains and a suitable CFU (colony-forming units) count to ensure an effective dose.