For those seeking a healthier lifestyle results can be overwhelming when searching for the best options.
From fitness trends to diet fads the information available is seemingly endless.
Add to this that the best option may vary depending on desired results and you may be facing hours of screentime in search of the information you need.
Weight loss, muscle gain, improving strength, toned physique, all of these spring to mind when we think of things such as diet and fitness.
Yet there is one huge aspect of health that is far too often overlooked and is arguably one of the most important- Gut health!
Proper gut health results from the presence of good bacteria, or probiotics, within our digestive tract and has been attributed to countless benefits.
Improved bodily function, mental health, BMI, and even the prevention of various diseases, are just a few of the recorded effects.
The internal balance is achieved through the consumption of probiotic foods, probiotic supplements, and fermented foods.
While a given diet may provide the desired aesthetic results some overlook the importance of improving gut health and others may even be detrimental to it.
Enter the Paleo Diet – With a vast list of benefits, the Paleo Diet is renowned for the promotion of gut health and good bacteria within our bodies.
With the removal of processed foods and the introduction of lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, and nuts this diet is packed with fiber and promotes a healthy gut microbiome naturally.
Finding the correct balance of good bacteria within our digestive tracts is no easy task.
While the Paleo Diet is a good start many seek out alternative sources such as probiotic supplements and fermented foods that contain high levels of naturally occurring probiotics.
In this article, we will help our readers understand gut health, the health benefits of probiotic supplements, who should take them, and what are the best probiotic supplements available.
For those that feel their diet may be lacking, are new to paleo, have certain medical conditions, or just want to improve their quality of life, these tips may be the key to feeling better and leading a healthier life in the years to come.
What are Probiotics?
Our bodies are loaded with trillions of bacteria!
Now before you go and douse yourself in sanitizer, or drink disinfectant, you need to understand that the majority of these are good bacteria that improve our health and keep the bad bacteria at bay.
These microorganisms are referred to as probiotics or good bacteria and, when they are considered as a community within our digestive system, tend to be called gut microbiomes or gut flora.
They reside within our entire digestive tract from start to finish. When there is a proper balance of probiotic bacteria within our body these gut microbiomes have a long list of functions and benefits.
- Aiding in digestion
- Boosting the immune system
- Improving the absorption of nutrients and minerals
- Protecting from harmful bacteria
- Lowering cholesterol
- Helping with inflammation
- Boosting metabolism
- Aiding in treating and preventing several ailments and medical conditions
This is just to name a few of the physiological effects yet it doesn’t end there.
Probiotics have been shown to aid in depression, improve moods, and even relieve stress and anxiety.
Who should take probiotic supplements?
The question is not IF people need probiotics as it is necessary for proper health.
The question is are you receiving enough probiotics from your diet or do you have an underlying condition interfering with the production and maintenance of good bacteria in your digestive tract.
There are various reasons why people take probiotic supplements to improve gut health.
Let’s cover a few of the most common reasons and help to provide some insight.
Naturally occurring probiotics tend to come from a variety of fermented foods.
Some diets, such as the paleo diet, which includes a lot of vegetables and nuts are great for the maintenance of gut health as these ingredients are packed with prebiotics which helps to feed the good bacteria in our bodies.
However, paleo as well as many other diets and general eating habits do not emphasize the importance of fermented foods.
If your meals are lacking foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, yogurt, kimchi, and similar options you may need to consider probiotic supplements.
Medications can greatly interfere with gut health and the microbiome balance within our bodies. Even over the counter medications can have an impact that may need to be countered.
Probiotic supplements are recommended for those who take certain medications regularly especially in regards to antibiotics.
These can be devastating to the gut microbiome and it’s important to take the actions needed to replenish the good bacteria.
Of course, consult a physician in regards to the type of medication you are taking and the effects of taking probiotics concurrently.
Recurring physiological issues
For those who suffer from issues such as heartburn, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or even recurring colds and flu, it may help to take a probiotic supplement.
Whether the cause of such ailments is poor gut health or there is a different underlying condition the effects of probiotics can be noticeable.
By achieving a balance in the gut microbiome it can assist in treating and preventing digestive issues.
Additionally, this balance greatly improves the immune system which will assist in fighting off those unwanted sicknesses and help to avoid taking medication unnecessarily.
As we previously mentioned the introduction of probiotic supplements can greatly assist in the treatment of various medical conditions as well as aid in the prevention of developing such conditions in the future.
The most prominent illnesses affected by probiotics tend to be bowel and gastrointestinal diseases, as well as digestive disorders.
These include conditions such as Crohn’s Disease, Irritable bowel Syndrome, Inflammatory bowel disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and Lactose intolerance.
Probiotic supplements have been shown to assist in the treatment of such ailments and even reduce the coinciding symptoms. It is also a consensus within the scientific community that probiotics are a good preventative measure for gastrointestinal illnesses.
A 2013 study showed that gut microbiomes were key in the prevention of gastrointestinal illness and infection such as irritable bowel syndrome. Additionally, the study showed a link between gut health and susceptibility to metabolic disorders, obesity, and diabetes.
As with any serious medical condition, it is important to first consult a physician before introducing supplements.
Increased levels of stress and anxiety can have quite a detrimental effect on gut health. Stress has been found to adversely affect digestion, absorption of nutrients, and even result in a weakened intestinal barrier.
Balancing the damage done by elevated stress levels with probiotic supplements comes highly recommended. Not only can this counteract the impacts but multiple studies have shown that probiotics can alleviate stress and stress-related anxiety.
Some studies are even finding links between gut health and states of depression. This 2018 study researched the possibility of using probiotics as a form of treatment for Major Depressive Disorder.
The study concluded that probiotics may be a beneficial antidepressant treatment and also assist in decreasing the inflammatory effects of MDD, although further research is needed.
Although regular exercise has been shown to improve gut health, extremely intense exercise and endurance training can have the opposite effect.
The issue is referred to as exercise-induced gastrointestinal syndrome and can alter the body’s ability to digest, absorb nutrients, and remain hydrated.
For fitness enthusiasts who have high-intensity sessions or notice adverse symptoms following prolonged exercise, it may help to use Probiotic supplements in battling these digestive issues.
Paleo Probiotic Supplements
If you find yourself falling into one of the above categories or just feel like you don’t have enough fermented foods in your diet you may be about to embark on your search for probiotic supplements.
As you delve into the world of probiotics it can quickly become overwhelming with all of the talk of various bacteria strains, species, colony-forming units (CFU), and the number of brands available.
To help we have compiled a list of the best Probiotic supplements in 2021 to save our readers some time and research.
This Garden of Life supplement is perfect for those looking for a strong probiotic with raw ingredients.
Using soil-based probiotics and introducing various bacteria strains, Garden of Life has produced an effective supplement with a long list of benefits.
- 5 billion CFU per capsule
- 90 capsules per container
- 13 different strains
- Immune support
- Colon health support
- Digestive support
- Vegan friendly
- Gluten Free
Primal Defense ULTRA is the ultimate high potency, broad-spectrum probiotic formula.
- The only shelf stable probiotic powder formula containing a unique whole food blend with Homeostatic Soil Organisms (HSO)
- This dietary supplement has 15 billion CFU and 13 hardy beneficial strains for immune system health
Mary Ruth’s Liquid probiotic is great for adults and children alike. Its liquid form makes it easy to add to food and drinks and the fact it is flavorless means you won’t even notice it.
Thanks to the production and bottling process there is no need to include hundreds of billions of CFU’s as they are more likely to survive to the time they are ingested.
- Non-GMO certified
- No refrigeration needed
- 12 different strains
- 40 servings per bottle
- Vegan and Celiac friendly
- Boosts immune function
- Assists Digestion
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This probiotic is a nice and simple alternative for those looking for a mild supplement.
Reducing the number of strains within the formula makes this a viable option for people with a sensitive reaction to supplements or for those who have had unwanted side effects from probiotics in the past.
FloraTummy’s Best Probiotic also contains prebiotics to help sustain the potency of the bacterial strains.
- 12 billion CFU per capsule
- 30 capsules per container
- Once a day dose
- Reduce diarrhea, gas, and constipation
- Contains 2 prebiotic fibers
- Vegan friendly
- No refrigeration needed
The makers of FloraTummys Probiotic Sprinkles for Kids is now offering you The NEW FloraTummys Probiotic Capsules for Adults & Kids > 100 lbs. Like FloraTummys Probiotic Sprinkle Packets, FloraTummys Capsules are proudly made in the USA, Non-dairy, gluten & sugar-free, Non-GMO, vegan, free of peanuts, wheat, eggs, soy yeast, and no animal ingredients & no artificial flavors or preservatives. FloraTummys Capsules contain 4 probiotic strains (L. acidophilus, B. lactis, B. bifidum, and B. longum) & 12 billion friendly bacteria. FloraTummys Capsules also contain two prebiotics, SunFiber and (FOS) which both nourish the probiotics and help them maintain their potency. The New advanced, technologically advanced, desiccant lined bottle removes moisture & oxygen during storage and significantly improves the shelf life.
- Non-Dairy, Gluten & Sugar-Free, Non-GMO, Vegan
- Technologically designed moisture absorbing bottle & Desiccant Oxygen Remover
The Colin & Bella Whole Food Multivitamin is an all-in-one supplement. Using whole fruits and vegetables in the production results in a capsule that includes various vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and enzymes.
Including all of these ingredients in each serving boosts the efficacy of each and will help to get the most out of your supplements.
- 3 strain probiotic blend
- Includes additional digestive enzymes
- 90 tablets per container
- Digestive enzymes and probiotic blend increase vitamin absorption
- Boosts immune system
- Increased energy
- Vegan friendly
Non-GMO, Multivitamin w/ Digestive Enzymes and Probiotics – Vegan Multivitamin Mineral Blend w/ Whole Fruits and Veggies, Folic Acid, Iron and Zinc
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For those searching for a probiotic supplement that has an extremely high content of CFU’s and an array of bacterial strains then this Garden of Life supplement may be the answer.
The Ultimate Care Raw Probiotic is designed to replenish microbiomes and reestablish gut health quickly and effectively.
- 34 probiotic strains
- 100 billion CFU per capsule
- Single daily dose
- Digestion support
- Boosts immune system
- Great for replenishing bacteria following a cleanse
- Includes prebiotics and digestive enzymes
Maintaining a healthy bacterial balance in your digestive system is key to optimizing your overall well-being.† Many factors can compromise your body’s defenses, including the overuse of medications, stress, your environment and even normal aging, resulting in the loss of beneficial Bifidobacterium. Garden of Life Raw Probiotics Ultimate Care — the ultimate replenishing probiotic —i s a high potency, high Bifido formula designed to help repopulate your gastrointestinal tract with good bacteria, including the Clinically Studied Replenish Blend.† Ultimate Care Raw Probiotic offers 34 probiotic strains, including ISS Bif™ Bifidobacterium lactis (SD-5219) and L. acidophilus (SD-5221) all in a small one a day capsule. RAW means our probiotics are uncooked, untreated, unadulterated, with no binders or fillers and no carriers.
- Includes a Protein-Digesting Enzyme Blend with Digestive Enzymes Protease, Acid Protease, and Protease S
- Support healthy digestion and nutrient assimilation—plus a blend of Raw Fruits and Vegetables
For many people, probiotic supplements are a quick and easy option for a healthier life yet others may prefer an alternative approach.
People who want to avoid taking supplements will need to include a variety of fermented foods into their diet to see the same benefits.
We have included a few of the best options to consider when altering diet to include probiotic-rich foods. We also help to provide our readers with some clarification as to whether or not certain foods will fit into their diet plan.
Sauerkraut is an incredible source of probiotics and should be at the top of the shopping list for those looking to increase probiotics in their diet.
It is packed with lactobacillus, which is one of the most important bacterial strains, and holds far more CFU’s than more common options such as yogurt.
Not only is Sauerkraut excellent for gut health but it also contains various prebiotics, vitamins, fibers, and nutrients. It’s known for improving digestion, bolstering the immune system, and aiding in weight loss as it’s very low in calories.
Sauerkraut does tend to be high in sodium which may not make it a good fit for some people. If you are wary of salt intake read on as we have some other options in store!
Is Sauerkraut Paleo Diet-friendly?
Sauerkraut is acceptable in many diet plans including the Paleo Diet yet be cautious of which one you choose.
Be sure to check the contents label for natural, raw ingredients without unnecessary additives. Avoid any sauerkraut that has processed foods, has been pasteurized or contains added sugars.
When following a specific diet plan, such as Paleo, it may be easier to make your own as it’s easy, fun, and you know exactly what goes into it.
What is the Best Paleo Sauerkraut?
The best Paleo-friendly sauerkraut that has the most benefits will likely be one that you make at home.
This ensures fresh ingredients, no additives, and it’s far less likely for beneficial culture to die in the process.
Making your own sauerkraut is a sure-fire way to get the most out of your meal plan and it’s quick and easy, all you do is mix, seal, and wait!
If the process sounds daunting or having the same sauerkraut every day seems boring don’t worry.
There are excellent recipe books, such as Mouthwatering Sauerkraut by Holly Howe, that simplify the process and add loads of delicious variety to your diet.
Fermentation Made Easy! Master an Ancient Art of Preservation, Grow Your Own Probiotics, and Supercharge Your Gut Health.
- The best salt for fermentation and how much to use
- How to evaluate any batch of sauerkraut with a comprehensive Troubleshooting Guide
Paleo Kombucha for Gut Health
Second on our list of supplement alternatives is Kombucha. Kombucha is a fermented tea that has been used in several cultures for thousands of years.
Not only is Kombucha rich in probiotics but it contains other nutrients that only amplify the benefits.
Although Kombucha is known for containing a plethora of healthy bacteria it also has the same health effects that come with many teas. It provides a high dose of vitamin B along with large amounts of antioxidants increasing its effectiveness.
Kombucha has become readily available in many supermarkets worldwide and there are a variety of flavors available so you can find your favorite or mix it up regularly.
Is Kombucha Paleo-friendly?
Kombucha is acceptable in the Paleo Diet yet still be vigilant in checking the contents.
Avoiding unnecessary sugars, artificial flavors, and added preservatives is key when following the Paleo Diet.
What is the Best Paleo Kombucha?
Given the number of suppliers available, it’s almost impossible to pick a single brand as the best Kombucha around. Yet once again we find that Kombucha lovers following a diet plan prefer to make their own at home.
While the process may not be as straightforward as throwing some cabbage in a jar and letting it rest, the steps can be fun, challenging, and quite rewarding in the end.
For those who choose to make homebrew it’s best to use a starter kit, like this one from Fermentaholics, and consider a recipe book as well.
Kombucha Revolution by Stephen Lee and Ken Koopman contains 75 recipes that are sure to simplify the brewing process and allow you to find the concoction that’s right for you.
But beware homemade kombucha can contain certain amounts of alcohol which can be a bonus for some but a deal-breaker for others!
Kefir tends to be served as a fermented drink although it is derived from natural Kefir grains that are added to other ingredients to make the drink. The grains are generally added to fresh milk and the fermentation process results in a thin yogurt-like drink.
Although it’s easily comparable to yogurt in appearance, natural health enthusiasts prefer Kefir as it contains far more nutrients and probiotics when compared to its counterpart.
Containing up to 60+ strains of good bacteria that are accompanied by various proteins, vitamins, and nutrients, Kefir is an excellent option for those who need to supplement their diet.
Kefir even contains a specific strain of gut microbiome that is unique to the kefir grain and holds antibacterial properties. This strain helps to fight off the harmful bacteria that can grow in our digestive tract.
Is Kefir Paleo?
Consuming dairy within the Paleo Diet is a bit of a grey area for some but this likely results from their love of dairy-based foods and a desire to bend the rules.
If you ask strict Paleo followers the short answer is no- dairy products, like kefir drinks, are not allowed in the Paleo Diet.
Now if you find yourself to be one of the individuals that want to bend the rules, not that we are encouraging you, then Kefir would be one of the healthiest options.
The benefits are plentiful and the fermentation process makes it less likely to trigger lactose intolerant effects.
What is the Best Paleo Kefir?
As mentioned it would be hard to argue that the paleolithic man or woman would sit around the fire discussing their day over a glass of Kefir. Technically speaking there is no such thing as Paleo Kefir.
Now for those that aren’t following the Paleo Diet or choose to make an exception, there are several options available. As with many things within the natural health community the consensus is that it is best to make your own. There is no substitute for knowing first hand what goes into your body.
This is also a great option to make Kefir as Paleo-friendly as possible because the longer it ferments the more lactose is consumed by the good bacteria. This allows the Kefir to be slightly tweaked and provide less lactose and reduced amounts of sugar.
The list of Kefir recipe books is slightly more limited than those of Kombucha yet there are some available.
Delicious Probiotic Drinks by Julia Mueller is a book we found to be exceptionally beneficial.
Not only does it include Kefir recipes but it holds options for other fermented drinks to add some variety. This book has plenty of non-dairy drinks as well for those that don’t want to stray from their diet plan.
Supplement, Sauerkraut, or Sit Out?
We’ve said it before and we will say it again, the need for probiotics is clear. Do not make the mistake of overlooking gut health or sacrificing your digestive system for the desired physique.
Both are achievable and the introduction of probiotics is likely to help in attaining your desired results.
You don’t have to begin adding sauerkraut to your protein shakes or chugging a bottle of kombucha before the gym (unless inebriated anaerobics is a thing?) but just like your gut flora- balance is key.
Whether you achieve this balance through altering your diet and introducing probiotic-rich foods or opting for the ease of probiotic supplements, in either case, it will be a decision you won’t regret.
In the end, if you’re following a diet plan like Paleo, Keto, or no diet plan at all, odds are that probiotics may be lacking in your routine.
For those seeking reduced symptoms, preventative measures, improved function, and just a generally healthier and happier life, the introduction of probiotics may be the answer.
Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a bachelor’s degree in medicine from Alexandria university and is a practicing plastic surgeon. He’s our expert on all things nutrition, medicine, rehabilitation, and flexibility. Dr.Ahmed has been a medical content writer for more than 11 years and his work reached top publications such as the HuffingtonPost