There are billions of small bacteria living in our gut that make up our microbiota. Combined there are a lot more bacteria than cells in our body and together they have as much as 100x more genetic material.
Bacteria constantly interact and compete with each other and react with food we eat. Have you ever wondered if you feel bad about specific foods or how your bacteria react to those foods? The latter is much more likely.
Our gut bacteria are strongly linked to all of our cells in the body and overwhelming evidence confirms their role in various chronic diseases such as diabetes, cholesterol, depression, panic attacks, obesity and digestive disorders. Unsuitable bacteria can make you feel tired or not able to fall asleep in the evening. Bloating and flatulence probably don’t even need to be mentioned.
Unfortunately, because of such a large number of different strains of bacteria, choosing the right probiotic is extremely difficult.
In this article you will learn how to distinguish quality probiotics from non-quality probiotics, and in the next one how to choose a suitable probiotic based on the desired result.
Quality of probiotics
Probiotics are living organisms, which makes them one of the most sensitive types of dietary supplements, which also means that there is an above-average number of poor quality products on the market.
Be aware that probiotics are only effective if the bacteria are still alive when ingested and if they have passed through the stomach to the intestines. Otherwise, the probiotics will be completely ineffective.
Temperature sensitivity of probiotics
As a rule, bacteria are highly temperature sensitive, but there are strains that pass room temperature (often classified as “shelf stable”). Nevertheless, it is advisable to keep even Shelf stable probiotics cool in order to maintain their maximum effectiveness. The exception are soil based organisms, which will be discussed later.
The optimum temperature for storing probiotics is between 1 and 2oC, which does not mean that they will be destroyed immediately at higher temperatures. This only means that the closer to optimal temperatures they are stored, the longer they’ll remain useful and the more effective they’ll be (the more living organisms). It is therefore advisable to always store probiotics in the refrigerator. You should not freeze probiotics.
Controlling the storage of probiotics at home is easy, but the problem often arises in production and distribution.
You must first understand that the vast majority of brands are not actually manufacturers, but someone produces probiotics for them.
You’ll have more chances to get quality probiotics if you buy a brand that actually produces them themselves.
A quality manufacturer will know what is important in production and storage and will take care of it. Often, such manufacturers, for keeping a good name, arrange for quality delivery and sometimes even check the storage conditions with their distributors.
If possible, check how probiotics have been stored and transported. One or two days of transportation at normal ambient temperature is not likely to be too damaging to probiotics, but keeping them on shelves for extended periods or transporting them in overheated trucks in the summer can be a problem.
Other environmental impacts
Two additional environmental factors are the presence of oxygen and sunlight.
Probiotics are mostly anaerobic organisms, which means that oxygen destroys them. For manufacturers and distributors, this is generally not a big problem, since the bottles are opaque to sunlight (or in tinted glass) and airtight.
For home storage, however, this means keeping them tightly closed, preferably in original packaging and in a dark place (eg refrigerator).
How to determine if a probiotic is of good quality?
We cannot give you an unambiguous answer here, but there are some indicators you can rely on:
- Make sure the manufacturer also owns the brand. The packaging will say “Manufactured By” or “Manufactured for”. By means that the manufacturer also owns and for means that someone has manufactured this product for the brand.
- Check the number of living organisms. Quality probiotics today contain at least 5 billion living organisms, and some promise 100 billion or more. As a rule, anything above 5 billion is OK, and the actual effective number depends on the strain.
- Check the number of strains in the product. If it is a general probiotic, the minimum number of strains contained should be 5 (this is of course not true if you are looking for a specific probiotic with a specific strain).
- Check that the strains contained are effective and supported by independent health research. PubMed is the largest library of such research.
- Verify that the data on living organisms are given after the expiry date and not after or during the manufacturing process. Sampling time is important if you want to know if the product will be effective by the end of its shelf life.
- See if the manufacturer does independent testing and how often they test their product. A quality manufacturer will have a test for each batch of products.
- Check how the product was stored with the seller. It is best to see for yourself how the products are stored or you will have to trust any photographs or recordings.
By doing this, you will not be able to control every aspect of quality, but you are likely to get a quality product.
If you cannot be sure that the product has been kept cool, choose Shelf stable probiotics, although even these will be more effective if they are kept cold.
Probiotics quality at Fmed.eu
At Fmed.eu we take great care to assure the quality of all the supplements we offer, and we give special attention to probiotics and omega 3 fatty acids.
We only select quality manufacturers and most of our probiotics are manufactured by SFI, known as Klaire labs. SFI is a leading manufacturer of probiotics with sophisticated technology and professional background and long tradition.
If you are interested how probiotics are produced at SFI watch this video:
With exceptional production technology, they have complete quality control. For example, all input ingredients are first quarantined, then tested several times at random. All batches of finished products are also tested randomly and independently. As a rule, their probiotics reach almost double the number of declared living organisms at the expiry date.
We buy only small quantities at one time to keep the probiotics as fresh as possible, as they lose their quality over time.
Klaire labs only send probiotics with transport that is properly cooled. With us, probiotics are stored immediately in the refrigerator, where they remain until we send them to you. In this way, their exposure to heat is minimized, which means a better quality product for you.
If you want to shorten this time even further, you can opt for our partially cooled delivery.