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What Probiotics Should I Take? Here Are the BEST Probiotics We’ve Tried!

When we were kids, everybody knew what a “germ” was.

It was something tiny we couldn’t see that would make us sick. Germs are why we washed our hands and why our mothers made horrible faces when we did normal kid things like picking our nose, pressing our lips into a glass window, or bringing trash and bird feathers to her, asking, “What’s this?”

As adults, the fact that the world of “germs” actually has good guys and bad guys feels revolutionary. It’s flipping our entire childhoods on their heads!

washing hands

Yes, we’re still supposed to wash our hands, (we think!), but now we’re actually supposed to consume “good germs” in the form of probiotics. What is going on here?

This is exactly why I want to train my children to be intentional, conscious thinkers, and not just teach them facts about health and nutrition.

The research, thank goodness, is always changing, always improving. And the more we learn about how both the human body and the world we live in works, the more changes we need to make. Shoot, the more we learn about how the entire biome inside our bodies works, the more we realize we’re outnumbered by those 3 trillion bacteria in our own microbiome!

So how do we get over this idea of germs being gross and making us squirm and accept the fact that some germs, the good guys, are necessary for our health?

Probiotics to Heal the Gut

Even though the idea of probiotics is a bit revolutionary, most of us adults have come around to them as normal. It probably helps that no one uses the word “germs” when they’re talking about probiotics in benign-looking yogurt or capsules. 🙂

In fact, for plenty of people, probiotics have become a go-to.

stomach pain

A friend in real life reached out to me recently and said, “I think my gut is a mess. I need to figure out a good probiotic. Do you have any ideas?

It fascinated me that she had put so many pieces together:

  • She felt that something in her gut was the root cause of her ill health.
  • She thought that probiotics would help it.
  • And she came to me, the crazy health lady, whom she realized she knew in person after searching some things and hitting Kitchen Stewardship® via Google! Ha! 

I’m glad she asked, because finding the best probiotic isn’t as easy as listening to some marketing or seeking out the best coupon.

This would be a good opportunity to remind you that I’m not a doctor or nurse, nor any trained medical professional. I’m just a mom who does a lot of research, learns from experience, and does my best with my current knowledge. I’m a great gal to ask a health question over the backyard fence. But everyone should check with their own doctor or at least use a heavy dose of common sense before trying anything new in the name of health.

So do we all need probiotics?

Do we need them only if our gut health is poor?

Should we take them prophylactically even if we feel pretty well?

Let’s dig into this in the next couple sections…

What Are Probiotics?

Simply put, probiotics are bacteria that are “pro” or advantageous to your health. There are many strains of probiotics, but here’s where it gets interesting.

The definition itself can begin to break down because something sold in a bottle of probiotics might be “anti” one person’s health but “pro” another person’s depending on their physiology and/or state of disease.

You see, certain strains of probiotics are better for shoring up certain deficiencies in the gut. Since the gut is often called the seat of health, or the origins of the immune system, any time we’re talking about the gut and probiotics, we are really speaking of whole-body health.

Getting the right balance and amount of healthy bacteria in your body will help your brain health, your skin, all your essential organs, your weight, your mood, and yes, your digestion.

But ultimately, our bodies should be doing their part to get a good balance of healthy and malicious bacteria. That doesn’t always work perfectly, which is why we often need probiotics as a supplement.

Here’s more on probiotics from Dr. Lauren Jefferies!

Can’t see the video? Watch it on YouTube instead.

Why Are There Different Strains of Probiotics? 

Just as in any species, there’s a wide diversity of bacteria that co-exist with humans

Those that assist in our digestion and good health are varied, and each has its own specialty

“The most common probiotic bacteria are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. Other common kinds are Saccharomyces, Streptococcus, Enterococcus, Escherichia, and Bacillus.

Each genus comprises different species, and each species has many strains. On labels, you’ll see probiotics identified by their specific strain (which includes the genus), the species, subspecies if there is one, and a letter-number strain code.”1  – Health Line

Here’s where we need to dig more into the research.

gut bacteria

First, understand that if there’s a number after the strain of probiotics, it is a patented, lab-produced strain. This is likely not one found in nature, although it may be close. The number doesn’t mean you run the other way, but it does mean you retain your skepticism and ask questions.

If you’re seeking healing for a certain imbalance through probiotics, you’re going to want to research which strains are actually most helpful to you.

It is very rare to find a commercial probiotic supplement that has more than three to six different strains, so you have to do your research to find the one that’s the best fit for you.

Why Take Probiotics?

Throughout history humans have consumed probiotics, both from less sanitary conditions (soil-based bacteria) and from fermented foods — traditional sourdough, fermented vegetables, or sauerkraut, to name just a few.

Ancient peoples would naturally have a diverse range of healthy bacteria in their guts and throughout their bodies.

So why do we take them in capsule or liquid form

Our modern diet is generally deplete in lots of nutrients from vitamins and minerals, because we don’t eat enough vegetables, to healthy fats, because the animals we are eating aren’t eating the right things. Even those who eat an insanely clean diet still may have mineral deficiencies, because the soil has often been worked too hard and is depleted of the minerals it ought to and used to have.

Probiotics are in a similar category.

In our sanitized world, we often aren’t exposed to enough “germs,” both good and bad bacteria. We also live in a more toxic world than ever before, with our antibiotics, hormone supplements, birth control, pesticides, cleaning chemicals, and other toxins. These have a drastic effect on the gut.

Think of it: when you take just a single round of antibiotics, no matter your age, it’s pretty much like tossing a nuclear bomb down your digestive system. It kills the good with the bad. Starting from that blank slate means that you need to take extra caution to sow the right seeds on newly plowed soil.

probiotic capsules

The default in our standard American diet is…well…let’s just say the right seeds take some searching and won’t come to you automatically. Because of antibiotics and the assault on life via killer toxins in the environment, many people have damaged digestion, leaky gut, and gut dysbiosis (an imbalance of healthy and pathogenic bacteria in the gut).

On the surface, we might see this dysbiosis as a food sensitivity, eczema, or even brain fog

RELATED: Here are some clues that your baby might even benefit from a probiotic.

Most of us — but not all — probably need some probiotic supplementation or intentional probiotic consumption through food. Humans can’t even make their own neurochemicals or B vitamins without the healthy bacteria living in our bodies!2

Harvard reminds us that there’s a “growing body of scientific evidence suggest[ing] that you can treat and even prevent some illnesses with foods and supplements containing certain kinds of live bacteria…health benefits are strain-specific, and not all strains are necessarily useful.”3

For most of us, therefore, the question isn’t why take probiotics? Probiotics are beneficial in your system for your health.

The question is first, do I need a probiotic supplement? And second, which strains are most useful to me?

Wish You Knew All the Answers to Keep Your Family Healthy?

How about a crash course?

I’d love to send you a 7-day “Quick Start Guide” email mini-course to give you Health Agency! When something goes wrong in your family, YOU can be the agent of healing and not allllllways have to call a doctor for every little thing.

Imagine this email series as a virtual chat over the backyard fence with your own neighbor, a wise older mom who’s raising 4 kids with intention, trying to avoid unnecessary medication and being kind to the earth.

Looking forward to connecting to help you learn EXACTLY what you need to know to stock your natural remedies “medicine cabinet,” deal with normal childhood ailments, and even the dreaded, “What’s that on my skin?” issue! 🙂

Prebiotics: Did You Know You Need to Feed Your Probiotics?

Before we figure out what kind of probiotics you or your family might need, let’s talk about the care and feeding of our little friends.

What? Care and feeding?

That’s right, with trillions of them inhabiting us, they need something to eat. They’re going to eat whatever’s there. And we want to make sure we feed the good guys and do our best to starve out the bad guys.

RELATED: There’s more info about taking care of your microbiome here.

For example, when one of my kids or myself starts getting sick, we generally tone down if not cut out sugar, depending on how sick they are and how important it is to stay super healthy that week. The bad bacteria are drawn to eating sugar, which would include simple carbohydrates like white flour.

This means that the higher your diet is in those “foods,” the more likely you are to naturally attract bad bacteria and let it proliferate.

What do good bacteria eat?

As you might imagine, if the bad guys eat sugar, the good guys eat — that’s right, vegetables. Isn’t that the “opposite” of sugar, especially if you’re a kid?

But not just any vegetables!

roasted vegetables

We need to feed our probiotics something called prebiotics. You can read all about prebiotics here.

In essence, prebiotics are a certain kind of specialized plant fiber. Mayo Clinic says, “[Prebiotics] act like fertilizers that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.”4

Prebiotics are most commonly found in foods like:

  • Lightly cooked onions and leeks
  • Chicory root
  • Garlic
  • Dandelion leaves
  • Green bananas and plantains
  • Cooked and cooled potatoes
  • Fermented asparagus

If your diet is incredibly rich in these kinds of foods, you might not need to intentionally take a supplemental prebiotic. If your diet isn’t perfect (everyone is raising their hand here, including me) considering some sort of prebiotic might need to be part of your regimen.

One of our contenders today for the best probiotic I’ve reviewed is Seed, officially a synbiotic. In August 2020, the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) officially defined a synbiotic as:

a mixture comprising live microorganisms and substrate(s) selectively utilized by host microorganisms that confers a health benefit on the host.5

So if you have prebiotic concerns, make sure Seed’s strains are right for you, and then you can take it all in one capsule. (Officially two, since that one is a two-a-day dose, but the capsules are the same.)

What If We Don’t Need to Take Probiotics at All?

Our ancestors certainly weren’t popping pills full of living bacteria. However, in most healthy cultures, humans have a long history of consuming fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and more.

If your diet is rich in fermented foods AND you’re exposed to healthy soil bacteria (for example, you are an organic gardener), you might be okay without purchasing a supplement.

Dr. Ken Brown notes that some people don’t actually do well on probiotics.

For example, folks with SIBO (i.e., small intestine bacterial overgrowth) tend to feel worse with probiotics, because they already have a problem of too much bacteria, saying, “If we just throw more bacteria down there, that’s the opposite of helpful.”6

And here’s one I didn’t even know. Health hacker Dave Asprey cites research about people who are overweight having a higher correlation of higher lactobacillus bacteria. Researchers haven’t figured out why that is, but he plays the skeptic saying, “Until we figure that out, I’m not going to take something that is found in high amounts in people who are overweight.”

On the other hand, not every probiotic supplement has lactobacillus bacteria strains. So that may be something to keep in mind as you make your choices, particularly if you struggle with weight.

stomach pain

The bottom line is that bacteria are going to proliferate and inhabit our human bodies, whether we do something about it or not.

Our goal is to have more helpful bacteria — probiotics — than harmful bacteria (germs and others). If we can achieve this without a supplement, that’s great.

Many of us, especially in modern America with the spread of pesticides and poor diets, need a little help.

Test, Don’t Guess: How to Figure Out the Best Probiotic for You

You can always try genetic testing or work with a functional practitioner to attempt to narrow down the exact strains of probiotics that your body needs. You could do testing, even with your normal medical practitioner, to see if you have any underlying disease or even unrest in your body that you could then coordinate with what each strain is best for.

Or you can be a human experiment. 🙂 

Plenty of people out there have some digestive distress, a touch of IBS, bloating, gas, etc. Sometimes it’s easiest just to try a month of a probiotic with strains that seem to fit your needs and see if your symptoms abate. If they do, that’s probably a great strain for you until your body tells you differently.

I know, I said, “test, don’t guess.” But that’s a combination of an educated guess and then testing. If the results aren’t promising, you can change to a different strain or combination of strains, or add some prebiotics and see if you feel better.

When it comes to health, feeling good is definitely a great end result.

There have been a few times in our family’s history where we saw a definite one-to-one correlation with a certain probiotic and promising health result that we could see or feel. But in general, I tend simply to rotate different brands and strains of probiotics so that our family retains metabolic flexibility.

Plus, I kind of think of probiotics as an insurance investment for our future health.

If you know you’re not getting a lot of natural probiotics from your foods (and unfortunately, yogurt generally doesn’t have enough quantity or variety), it’s definitely something to consider.

Why You Should Rotate Probiotics

If you’ve just become convinced (or have been already) that taking probiotics should be a part of your health regimen, rotating your probiotics is another piece of the puzzle. As I mentioned already, rotating can be a good way to figure out what strains are best for you.

Once you find something that makes you feel better, it may make sense to stick with that one for a number of months. But at a certain point, you may want to experiment again; perhaps your normal proliferation of gut bacteria has been altered and your body has different needs.

Being a human experiment is admittedly not very fun and a bit of mental work. But it’s important if we want to stay healthy. Unfortunately, our bodies rarely run on autopilot as much as we wish they would.

Another fascinating reason to consider rotating probiotics, particularly if you’re aren’t targeting a specific ailment but just seeking an overall balanced gut and good health, has to do with what Dr. Petra Wiechel in Switzerland counseled my friend Katie Wells about.

Dr. Petra recommended against letting your body get used to any singular input, including supplements, “because you don’t want it to always assume that it’s going to get something endogenously, especially if it’s something your body can create on its own.”7

One option to ensure this sort of “metabolic flexibility” is to do what Katie does and skip taking supplements on the weekends. Rotating them, especially probiotics, since there’s such a wide variety of strains in combinations, is another method.

seed daily synbiotic

As far as skipping on weekends, I figure that when I forget to refill our supplements or just accidentally forget to take them, I’m contributing to my own good health through metabolic flexibility. 🙂

And finally, a team of researchers from the University of New England College of Pharmacy says that “an individual’s starting microbial profile is a key determinant in predicting their response to intervention with live probiotics. The gut microbiota is complex and challenging to characterize.”8

It’s also certainly ever-changing, so as our body has different needs, we may need different strains of probiotics. And we don’t want to cause an accidental gut dysbiosis in a certain direction by having just one kind of healthy bacteria down there, or just a certain group.

Just like in our human culture, bacterial diversity is beautiful.

What Is Metabolic Flexibility?

Metabolic flexibility is something many of us have lost, and it needs to be found. According to the American Journal of Physiology,

Metabolic flexibility is the capacity for the organism to adapt fuel oxidation to fuel availability.9

In other words, when we are metabolically flexible, we are able to burn either fat or carbohydrates for fuel. Goodpaster and Kelley in 2008 expand the definition more to say that metabolic flexibility is “the transition from fasting to fed states, or fasting to insulin stimulation to explain insulin resistance.”10

Why is this a problem in America?

We spend too much time eating and not enough time fasting, and we eat way too many carbohydrates including processed carbohydrates! This means our bodies always have carbohydrates for fuel. And so, like any good American, the body always chooses the easy way.

Carbohydrates are easier and faster to burn for energy, so when the body has a constant supply, they always burn carbs. In ancestral times, humans might not have had access to carbohydrates all day every day. And so the system ran best when it could easily switch from carbs to fat for fuel and back.

When I say we don’t spend enough time fasting, I don’t mean that we all need to have three-day water fasts. I just mean that we eat too late at night quite often, and many of us don’t even give our bodies a 12-hour rest with no new fuel.

RELATED: 7 health benefits of intermittent fasting

It turns out that metabolic inflexibility contributes to insulin resistance, which is also known to some as pre-pre-diabetes. The more metabolically flexible we are, the more we begin to protect ourselves from becoming diabetic. Some even say metabolic flexibility is the most important aspect of health.

Research shows that metabolic flexibility helps avoid diabetes, obesity, and maybe even neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, called by some “type 3 diabetes” because it’s related to insulin resistance too.10, 11

Dr. Mercola cites that only 15% of Americans are metabolically flexible. As the root cause of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, this is clearly a disaster.12

The bottom line on all of that is that metabolic flexibility is exponentially important for us. And yes, we can focus on it when it comes to fat and carbohydrates through our diet (and our fasting). But there’s also some metabolic flexibility built into switching up your supplements including probiotics. Anything we can do to change up the system is good for our systems!

heart over belly

What’s the BEST Probiotic We’ve Tried?

Haha, trick question!

Here’s the thing– If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that reviewing probiotics would be a lot of smoke and mirrors and not really a fair deal. Perhaps my family had a great experience with a certain probiotic, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for you.

We have tried and continue to rotate many different brands and strains of probiotics. So how can I say what the best probiotic is? I really can’t.

But I can say that certain strains are more well-researched for humans and that some companies do a much better job of making sure the probiotic gets through the stomach acid, for example, actually impacting your gut, instead of selling you expensive pills full of nothing effective.

Today we’ll:

  • walk through all the probiotics my family has tried over the years
  • tell you logistically what we like about it because there are some differences in how they’re delivered
  • discuss the purposes and research-backed evidence for each strain included
  • and share any other personal notes

That way you can choose for yourself what you’d like to try and hopefully find the best probiotic for your family.

Probiotic Strains and What Research Shows They Support

The Best Probiotics for Immunity and Gut Health

  • Bifidobacterium breve13
  • Bifidobacterium longum13
  • Bifidobacterium infantis13
  • Bifidobacterium lacti13
  • Lactiplantibacillus plantarum13
  • Limosilactobacillus reuteri13
  • Limosilactobacillus fermentum13
  • Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus13
  • Lacticaseibacillus casei13
  • Ligilactobacillus salivarius13
  • Bacillus Coagulans14
  • Bacillus Subtilis15

The Best Probiotics for IBS16

  • Bifidobacterium breve
  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Lactobacillus acidopholus
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Lactobacillus plantarum
  • Bifidobacterium infantis

The Best Probiotics for Leaky Gut17

  • Saccharomyces boulardii
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Bifidobacterium breve
  • Streptococcus thermophilus
  • Lactobacillus casei

The Best Probiotics for Anxiety and Depression18

  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Lactobacillus helveticus

The Best Probiotics for Skin Health

  • Bifidobacterium breve13
  • Bifidobacterium longum13
  • Bifidobacterium lactis13
  • Lacticaseibacillus casei13
  • Ligilactobacillus salivarius13
  • Bacillus Indicus19
  • Lactobacillus reuteri20

The Best Probiotics for Cardiovascular Health

  • Bifidobacterium lactis13
  • Lactiplantibacillus plantarum13
  • Bacillus Indicus19

The Best Probiotics for Kids21

  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Lactobacillus reuteri
  • Lactobacillus casei
  • Lactobacillus paracasei
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum
  • Bifidobacterium breve
  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Bifidobacterium infantis
  • Bifidobacterium lactis

The Best Probiotics for Dental Health

  • Lactobacillus salivarius22
  • Lactobacillus reuteri23
  • Lactobacillus paracasei24

The Best Probiotics for Micronutrient Synthesis

  • Bifidobacterium adolescentis13
  • Limosilactobacillus reuteri13
  • Bacillus Indicus19

The Best Probiotics During Antibiotics

Bacillus Clausii is the only probiotic strain that has been shown in research to be resilient while taking antibiotics.25

Seeking the Best Probiotic? My Family’s Reviews and Experience:

Jump to a specific review with these links: 

Just Thrive | Seed Synbiotic | Balance One | Probiota Women’s from Seeking Health |  MaryRuth’s Liquid Probiotic | Miessence Liquid | Miessence PowderWellbelly | Hyperbiotics Pro-Kids | Hyperbiotics GBX-FocusHyperbiotics Pro-Dental

Price ranking: 

$ = Less than $1.00 per serving

$$ = Between $1.00-$2.00 per serving

$$$ = Between $2.00-$3.00 per serving

$$$$ = Over $3.00 per serving

Just Thrive Probiotic

Details from the Company:

JustThrive probiotic

  • Microbiologist-formulated and clinically tested
  • Supports immune, digestive, and emotional health
  • Improved flora balance
  • Increased digestive nutrient absorption in the intestines
  • Powerful antioxidant and carotenoid production at the most bio-available location in your body – your own little nutrient factory!
  • Boosts energy, improves sleep, and promotes healthy skin
  • Encourages healthy weight management
  • Ingredients matter! Our formulations are all-natural, non-GMO, and made WITHOUT soy, dairy, sugar, salt, corn, tree nuts, or gluten. Vegan, Paleo, and Keto Friendly

Price Range: $$

Coupon: Use the code Katie15 for 15% Off!

Where to purchase: Amazon or JustThrive

Unique feature: Spore based probiotic

Strains included: Bacillus Indicus HU36®, bacillus coagulans, bacillus clausii, bacillus subtilis

My experience: Our family uses Just Thrive more than any other option, simply because it’s affordable enough for the whole family to take it; and, being spore-based, it has some qualities that many other probiotics don’t. I like that it can be taken during a round of antibiotics. And over the years, spore-based probiotics have been recommended for Crohn’s disease, which my husband used to have, so it’s certainly in my kids’ genetics. Anecdotally, a friend found that Just Thrive helped her stomach feel better when she ate foods she was mildly sensitive to, so we are trying to convince Leah to take it before experimenting with dairy.

Pros

  • Only probiotic you can take while taking antibiotics
  • Convenient subscription options that saves you $5
  • No refrigeration necessary 
  • Very unique — which may hit ailments that others don’t

Cons

  • Spore based probiotics are sometimes controversial
  • Fewer strains compared to others
Just Thrive

Kitchen Stewardship® readers get an exclusive discount on Just Thrive Probiotics! Use code Katie15 for 15% off.

Seed Daily Synbiotic

Details from the Company:

seed synbiotic 24 strain broad-spectrum probiotic and prebiotic formulated for digestive, gut, immune, and additional systemic benefits. In a double capsule design to ensure survivability to the gut.

Price Range: $$

Coupon: KITCHENSTEWARDSHIP to get 15% off the first month of your subscription.

Where to purchase: Seed

Unique feature: Synbiotic

Strains included: Bifidobacterium breve SD-BR3-IT, Bifidobacterium longum SD-BB536-JP, Bifidobacterium infantis SD-M63-JP, Bifidobacterium lactis HRVD524-US (Bl-04), Bifidobacterium breve HRVD521-US, Bifidobacterium longum HRVD90b-US, Bifidobacterium lactis SD150-BE, Bifidobacterium longum SD-CECT7347-SP, Lactiplantibacillus plantarum SD-LP1-IT, Limosilactobacillus reuteri RD830-FR, Limosilactobacillus fermentum SD-LF8-IT, Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus HRVD113-US, Lacticaseibacillus casei HRVD300-US, Bifidobacterium lactis SD-MB2409-IT, Lactiplantibacillus plantarum SD-LPLDL-UK, Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus SD-GG-BE, Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus SD-LR6-IT, Ligilactobacillus salivarius SD-LS1-IT, Bifidobacterium lactis SD-MB2409-IT, Lactiplantibacillus plantarum SD-LPLDL-UK, Bifidobacterium adolescentis SD-BA5-IT (DSM18352), Limosilactobacillus reuteri SD-LRE2-IT

My experience: Seed is one of the most well-researched and impressive probiotics I’ve ever encountered. They also have a great commitment to sustainability and I love that their refill packets don’t use any plastic. You can actually read my full review and experiences here.

Pros

  • Commitment to sustainability
  • Includes prebiotic
  • Many well-researched strains
  • Positive effects for both men and women
  • No refrigeration needed

Cons

  • You have to take two per day (but that’s pretty minor!)

Use the code KITCHENSTEWARDSHIP to get 15% off your first month of Seed Synbiotic!

BalanceOne Probiotic

Details from the Company:

balance one probiotic Patented time-release tablets deliver 60% of their probiotic bacteria past stomach acid (compared to 4% average on other probiotics), making them 15 times more effective. Formulated for improved gut health supports stronger immunity and improved energy levels.

Price Range: $

Coupon: Use code KITCHENS15 to save 15%

Where to purchase: Amazon or BalanceOne

Unique feature: Slow release

Strains included: Lactobacillus plantarum, lactobacillus paracasei, lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus Casei, bifidobacterium longum, bifidobacterium breve, bifidobacterium infantis, lactobacillus brevis, lactobacillus salivarius, lactobacillus rhamnosus, lactococcus lactis, streptococcus thermophilus

My experience: Balance One is a probiotic I was introduced to through a Healthy Living Bundle. And since I’m all about diversifying, it went into the Kimball family rotation. The capsule is a completely different format than most of the gelatin caps I’m used to. Balance One sends out great research-based emails and has a time-release capsule. BalanceOne has a kid’s probiotic for ages 4+ that we haven’t tried yet, but it looks good!

Pros

  • Less expensive option
  • No refrigeration needed
  • 2 month supply per bottle

Cons

  • If you hold it in your mouth too long it tastes really bad
How to choose the best probiotic

Use the code KITCHENS15 to save 15% both on the BalanceOne site and Amazon checkout!

ProBiota Woman from Seeking Health

Details from the Company:

probiota seeking health ProBiota Woman by Seeking Health is a specialized blend of ten different types of “friendly” probiotic bacteria in a prebiotic base that may help support a healthy genitourinary system and healthy vaginal microflora.

Price Range: $

Where to purchase: Amazon or Seeking Health

Unique feature: Formulated for women

Strains included: Lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus brevis, lactobacillus rhamnosus, lLactobacilus gasseri, lactobacillus casei, lactobacillus salivarius, lactobacillus plantarum, bifidobacterium species, bifidobacterium bifidum, bifidobacterium breve, bifidobacterium longum

My experience: I was drawn to try this probiotic because Seeking Health is such an upstanding company founded by Dr. Ben Lynch, author of Dirty Genes. Their supplements have slowly replaced many other brands I take because they are more affordable and tend to hit many birds with one stone. Of course this is different — just one bird, the woman in the family.

Women have different needs, and for a company to acknowledge that and choose strains specifically for women’s health was important to me. I tend to throw this one in when I’ve forgotten to take my supplements for the day. I wish I had taken the focus to do a really good test and write down before and after results. I’m doing so much to help my women’s health issues, however, that it would be hard to differentiate. As of now, my cycles are getting much, much better.

Pros

  • Specifically for women
  • Strains not found elsewhere
  • Two month supply

Cons

  • You can’t use it for the whole family
 

Want to download and print all our women’s health support lists?

We have printable resources for:

  • how to align with your monthly cycle
  • best foods to balance your blood sugar
  • increase energy by supporting your mitochondria and balancing your hormones
  • support your adrenals
  • how to gently detox your liver

We’ll send all these resources to you right away so you can achieve better health and well-being!

MaryRuth's Liquid Probiotic

Details from the Company:

Mary Ruth probiotics Support your immune system and digestion with this USDA Certified Organic liquid probiotic. MaryRuth’s probiotics are raw, plant-based, highly potent strains sourced directly from Mother Nature: extracted with water from a proprietary blend of three organic grasses.

Price Range: $$

Where to purchase: Amazon or MaryRuth’s (use code KCRF15 for 15% off)

Unique feature: Liquid for easy administration

Strains included: Lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus rhamnosus, lactobacillus salivarius, lactobacillus casei, lactobacillus plantarum, lactococcus lactis, streptococcus thermophilus, bifidobacterium bifidum, bifidobacterium lactis, bifidobacterium infantis, bifidobacterium breve, bifidobacterium longum

My experience: This probiotic is so unique, because it’s a liquid that doesn’t need to be refrigerated. We used a different liquid for years, but the refrigeration meant that we would often forget about it and had trouble traveling with it. This has practically no flavor; three of my four kids don’t even notice it.

Pros

  • Easy to shoot in kids’ mouths if they can’t take pills
  • Doesn’t need refrigeration

Cons

  • Glass bottle could be harder to manage or travel with
Mary Ruth Probiotic

Get an exclusive 15% discount on MaryRuth’s Probiotics (and everything else on the site!) with code KCRF15.

WellBelly Probiotic Powder

Details from the Company:

wellbelly

  • Whole food based probiotic blend of 9 strains of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium
  • Non-dairy, non-grain, non-GMO probiotics for infants and kids without any isolated sugar or chemically derived carriers
  • Supports digestive and immune health
  • No hard to digest D lactic acid that other probiotics have

Price Range: $

Where to purchase: Amazon or WellFuture

Unique feature: For kids, whole-food-based carrier with no fillers

Strains included: Lactobacillus rhamnosus, lactobacillus casei, lactobacillus paracasei, lactobacillus reuteri, bifidobacterium bifidum, bifidobacterium breve, bifidobacterium longum, bifidobacterium infantis, bifidobacterium lactis

My experience: This is another powder, meticulously formulated by my friend Dr. Catherine Clinton. She is so, so careful about her ingredient sourcing — non-GMO, gluten-free, everything good that you can imagine. Once my kids got older and were able to take pills, however, we did stop using it simply because it’s a powder that needs to be mixed into food. For toddlers who often eat applesauce or yogurt, this is an excellent option. And so clean!

Pros

  • Formulated for kids (especially great for toddlers)
  • Meticulously clean ingredients

Cons

  • Powder
  • Harder to incorporate into routine

WellBelly is a fantastic choice for your little ones who aren’t ready to take a pill yet! It mixes easily into applesauce and yogurt.

Hyperbiotics PRO-Kids

Details from the Company:

hyperbiotics pro-kids This very tiny pearl is the smallest on the market and is easy to swallow for most children of chewing age and up. PRO-Kids pearls are most effective when swallowed rather than chewed (though they still taste great if chewed!). Avoiding the synthetic and sugar-loaded ingredients you know are not beneficial for your child can be quite a challenge! You can rest assured because PRO-Kids is sugar free (sweetened with stevia) and has ZERO artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners.

Price Range: $

Where to purchase: Amazon or Hyperbiotics

Unique feature: Formulated for kids, time release

Strains included: Lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus plantarum, bifidobacterium infantis, bifidobacterium lactis

My experience: I ended up ordering this probiotic because I was using the PRO-Dental from Hyperbiotics to work on my silly cavities. These are tiny little chewable or swallowable caps, and my littlest guy just loves them. For my daughter, who doesn’t love swallowing pills, it’s nice that this one goes down so easily. For me, it was just a way to diversify more, and because they’re so tiny they travel really easily.

Pros

  • Formulated just for kids
  • Easy to chew or swallow for any age
  • Includes prebiotics
  • Formula proven to survive past stomach acid

Cons

  • More effective when swallowed (but cool that little ones can chew too)

The TEENSY capsules from Hyperbiotics PRO-Kids are great for kids just learning how to swallow pills! No refrigeration required, either, so they’re good for travel.

Hyperbiotics GBX-Focus

Details from the Company:

GBX-focus Whether for school, work, or just everyday life, being able to concentrate and focus on the task at hand is of the utmost importance. GBX-Focus combines six targeted probiotic strains with Suntheanine® (L-theanine) to harness the power of the gut-brain axis to support concentration, memory, cognitive focus, learning performance, and mental clarity.

Price Range: $

Where to purchase: Amazon or Hyperbiotics

Unique feature: Time release

Strains included: Lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus plantarum, lactobacillus casei, lactobacillus fermentum, lactobacillus brevis, bifidobacterium lactis

My experience: Again, this is just another that I’ve used to diversify and I figure any focus improvement is a good thing on brain-fog days. I tend to just mix this in when I’ve forgotten to take my regular supplements or haven’t refilled our pillboxes for a few days.

Pros

  • Extra ingredient for gut-brain axis and focus
  • Contains 100mg of FOS prebiotic too!

Cons

hyperbiotics GBX-focus

Hyperbiotics GBX-Focus targets mood, stress, and focus through its probiotic strains. Can’t we all use a little more help with those things?

Hyperbiotics PRO-Dental

Details from the Company:

hyperbiotics pro-dental The probiotic strains in PRO-Dental work together to create an environment in the oral cavity that helps lessen the buildup of sticky deposits that can eventually lead to problems. These beneficial strains also work to crowd out undesirable bacteria, helping to address the root cause of unhealthy gums.

Price Range: $

Where to purchase: Amazon or Hyperbiotics

Unique feature: Formulated for dental health

Strains included: Lactobacillus salivarius, lactobacillus reuteri, lactobacillus paracasei, and lactobacillus sakei

My experience: This is a very unique probiotic specifically for oral health. You chew it and hold it in your mouth to combat bad breath and support microbial balance. It’s something I definitely should use more regularly but haven’t gotten in a good routine yet. It was recommended by another blogger friend because of my recurring cavities. I figured it couldn’t hurt.

Pros

  • Uniquely targeted for oral health
  • Tastes great
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Need to remember to take it after brushing teeth and not near food

Want to learn more about my fight to REVERSE cavities using natural methods? My dentist said he’d never seen this before!

Miessence Inliven Superfood Powder

Details from the Company:

Miessence Inliven powder InLiven Superfood, based on more than 20 years of research, contains the complete Lactobacillus family of 13 strains combined with 26 certified organic whole foods naturally fermented for 3 weeks prior to bottling. When consumed, the body is able to instantly assimilate the broad spectrum of nutrients. InLiven uses an especially grown ‘super breed’ of very strong Lactobacilli designed to reach your digestion tract intact so they can do you the best. Unlike some other probiotics, the bacteria used by InLiven is produced from fruits and vegetables and not fast-tracked from fecal matter.

Price Range: $$$

Where to purchase: Miessence

Unique feature: Naturally fermented superfood powder

Strains included: Naturally occurring lactobacillus bacteria

My experience: I used this at the same time as the liquid, although there are some different strains because this one was a bit more economical. It’s really hard to use, though, because it doesn’t hide in anything other than a smoothie. So it was more of a backup only for smoothie days, which are not daily in the Kimball house. A few friends actually started using it as well and saw noticeable positive effects on their health. So Miessence has something good going on.

Pros

  • Also has whole foods in it

Cons

  • Needs refrigeration
  • Difficult to incorporate into routine
  • Cost

Interested in checking out more products from Miessence? I’ve also reviewed their Bushflower Body Spray (natural bug spray), Complete Protein Powder, and sunscreen. I appreciate the Australian company’s well-researched products, organic ingredients, and commitment to green living.

Miessence FastTract Probiotic Liquid

Details from the Company:

Miessence fastTract probiotic

2022 UPDATE: Miessense Fast-Tract is out of production. 

Specially designed for those who choose to use gluten-free products, Fast-Tract is a probiotic liquid that contains the full spectrum of Lactobacilli. Lactobacilli are the “friendly” bacteria that your body needs to promote good digestive health.

Price Range: $$$$

Where to purchase: Miessence

Unique feature: Naturally fermented liquid

Strains included: Lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus leichmannii, lactobacillus plantarum, bifidobacterium bifidum, lactobacillus caucasicus, lactobacillus delbreukii, lactobacillus casei, lactobacillus lactis, bacillus coagulans, lactobacillus helveticus, lactobacillus fermenti, saccharomyces boulardii, lactobacillus bulgaricus, lactobacillus brevis, saccharomyces cerevisiae

My experience: We used this liquid for years because it seemed to play a role in helping me get rid of the nasty rash thought to be candida but later found out to be something else. The liquid is easy to serve to kids, although you do need a spoon, so not as easy as Mary Ruth Kids.

It’s highly researched, although the formulator has now passed on. So hopefully the company is keeping up with the research. I ended up taking this out of our rotation simply because it’s more expensive, and I stopped being a member of Miessence. But we had a great experience with it, and it was always the first thing we turned to if anyone had an upset tummy or a scratchy throat.

Pros

  • Easy for the whole family to take

Cons

  • Cost
  • Needs to be refrigerated so it’s easy to forget about it

We children of the 70s, 80s, and 90s were told to wash our hands and don’t share germs

Now we’re discussing which germs will make us poop better and if we want them in capsules, liquid, or powder. 

What a long road we’ve traveled! 

Since research IS always changing, as is the terrain we inhabit (both external environment and internal bodily systems), we have to change with the times

Here’s to your gut, your poo, and a better-feeling you. 😉 

Which Probiotic Is Best for YOU?

As you think about testing out some new probiotics in your family, here’s what you should do:

  1. Think about what problem in your health you most want to solve. Find the strain or strains that may help the most and choose a brand to start first.
  2. Be sure to write down your symptoms, including severity, so that you can compare after the first bottle is gone.
  3. Make a note in your calendar to come back to that symptom list. And if you find that there aren’t any improvements, try another brand and do the same thing.

And of course, if you’re just seeking to optimize your general health, I recommend rotating the probiotics. Every time you finish the bottle, try a new brand.

Personally, I would start with Seed Synbiotics, since it has prebiotics included and such good research behind it. Also try Just Thrive, since it’s spore-based and should behave completely differently than other strains.

I’d love to hear in the comments which probiotic you’re going to try first or any probiotic success stories.

Footnotes: 

  1. Gunnars, K. (2020, December 9). Probiotics 101: A Simple Beginner’s Guide. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/probiotics-101#what-they-are
  2. Gu, Q. & Li, P. (2016, July 13). Biosynthesis of Vitamins by Probiotic Bacteria. In Rao, V. & Rao, L. (Eds.) Probiotics and Prebiotics in Human Nutrition and Health. IntechOpen. DOI: 10.5772/63117 Retrieved from https://www.intechopen.com/books/probiotics-and-prebiotics-in-human-nutrition-and-health/biosynthesis-of-vitamins-by-probiotic-bacteria 
  3. Harvard Health Publishing. (2020, April 13). Health benefits of taking probiotics. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/vitamins-and-supplements/health-benefits-of-taking-probiotics
  4. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2021, February 27). Prebiotics, probiotics and your health. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/prebiotics-probiotics-and-your-health/art-20390058?_ga=2.224462426.1305648048.1613669037-1857513761.1613669037
  5. Swanson, K.S., Gibson, G.R., Hutkins, R. et al. (2020, August 21).The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on the definition and scope of synbiotics. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 17, 687–701. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41575-020-0344-2
  6. Wells, K. (Host). (2017, August 7). Using Natural and Traditional Medicine to Fix the Gut Microbiome with Dr. Ken Brown. (No. 96). In The Wellness Mama Podcast. https://wellnessmama.com/podcast/ken-brown-atrantil/
  7. Wells, K. (Host). (2020, October 29). Ask Katie Anything: Protein, Supplements, Sleep, Parenting, and Shoes. (No. 387). In The Wellness Mama Podcast. https://wellnessmama.com/podcast/ask-katie-387/
  8. Hills, R., Pontefract, B., Mishcon, H., Black, C., Sutton, S., & Theberge, C. (2019, July 16). Gut Microbiome: Profound Implications for Diet and Disease. Nutrients, 11(7), 1613. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11071613
  9. Galgani, J., Moro, C., & Ravussin, E. (2008, November 1). Metabolic flexibility and insulin resistance. American Journal of Physiology, 295(5), E1009-1017. https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/ajpendo.90558.2008 
  10. Goodpaster, B & Sparks, L. (2017, May 2). Metabolic Flexibility in Health and Disease. Cell Metabolism, 25(5), 1027-1036. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2017.04.015
  11. de la Monte, S. M., & Wands, J. R. (2008). Alzheimer’s disease is type 3 diabetes-evidence reviewed. Journal of diabetes science and technology, 2(6), 1101–1113. https://doi.org/10.1177/193229680800200619
  12. Sperlazza, C. (2019, May 2). What Is Metabolic Flexibility And How Can You Achieve It? Retrieved from https://www.bulletproof.com/diet/weight-loss/metabolic-flexibility/
  13. Seed DS-01 Daily Synbiotic. (n.d) Retrieved from https://my.seed.com/daily-synbiotic
  14. Majeed, M., Nagabhushanam, K., Natarajan, S., Sivakumar, A., Ali, F., Pande, A., Majeed, S., & Karri, S. K. (2016). Bacillus coagulans MTCC 5856 supplementation in the management of diarrhea predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome: a double blind randomized placebo controlled pilot clinical study. Nutrition journal, 15, 21. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12937-016-0140-6
  15. Guo, M., Wu, F., Hao, G., Qi, Q., Li, R., Li, N., Wei, L., & Chai, T. (2017). Bacillus subtilis Improves Immunity and Disease Resistance in Rabbits. Frontiers in immunology, 8, 354. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2017.00354
  16. Ortiz-Lucas, M., Tobías, A., Saz, P., & Sebastián, J. J. (2013). Effect of probiotic species on irritable bowel syndrome symptoms: A bring up to date meta-analysis. Revista espanola de enfermedades digestivas : organo oficial de la Sociedad Espanola de Patologia Digestiva, 105(1), 19–36. https://doi.org/10.4321/s1130-01082013000100005
  17. Rao, R. K., & Samak, G. (2013). Protection and Restitution of Gut Barrier by Probiotics: Nutritional and Clinical Implications. Current nutrition and food science, 9(2), 99–107. https://doi.org/10.2174/1573401311309020004
  18. Wallace, C.J.K., Milev, R. (2017). The effects of probiotics on depressive symptoms in humans: a systematic review. Ann Gen Psychiatry 16, 14. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12991-017-0138-2
  19. Anderson, B. (2018, December 3). The importance of Probiotic Strain “HU36”: Antioxidant Protection for Your Eyes, Heart, Skin & More. Retrieved from https://justthrivehealth.com/blogs/blog/the-importance-of-probiotic-strain-hu36-antioxidant-protection-for-your-eyes-heart-skin-more
  20. Szántó, M., Dózsa, A., Antal, D., Szabó, K., Kemény, L. & Bai, P. (2019, August 6). Targeting the gut‐skin axis—Probiotics as new tools for skin disorder management? Experimental Dermatology, 28(11), 1210-1218. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/exd.14016
  21. Well Belly. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://wellfuture.com/wellbelly
  22. Nishihara, T., Suzuki, N., Yoneda, M., & Hirofuji, T. (2014). Effects of Lactobacillus salivarius-containing tablets on caries risk factors: a randomized open-label clinical trial. BMC oral health, 14, 110. https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6831-14-110
  23. Kang, MS., Oh, JS., Lee, HC. et al. (2011, May 30). Inhibitory effect of Lactobacillus reuteri on periodontopathic and cariogenic bacteria. J Microbiol. 49, 193–199. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12275-011-0252-9
  24. Teanpaisan, R., Piwat, S., Tianviwat, S., Sophatha, B., & Kampoo, T. (2015). Effect of Long-Term Consumption of Lactobacillus paracasei SD1 on Reducing Mutans streptococci and Caries Risk: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. Dentistry journal, 3(2), 43–54. https://doi.org/10.3390/dj3020043
  25. Frühauf, P., Sliva, J., Ambrožová, H. & Kotlarová, L. (2011). Bacillus clausii – a probiotic resistant to antibiotics. Pediatrie pro Praxi. 12. 361-362. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/286796464_Bacillus_clausii_-_a_probiotic_resistant_to_antibiotics

Additional Sources:

  • Mailing, L. (n.d.). How gut health affects resistance to infection. Retrieved from https://www.lucymailing.com/how-gut-health-affects-resistance-to-infection/
  • Gillaspy, B. (2020, February 25). Metabolic Flexibility – The Making of a Fat-Burning Body. Retrieved from https://drbeckyfitness.com/metabolic-flexibility-the-making-of-a-fat-burning-body/
  • Walker, B. (2020, October 20). Is Metabolic Flexibility the Next Big Thing? Retrieved from https://medium.com/in-fitness-and-in-health/is-metabolic-flexibility-the-next-big-thing-225215310bc3
  • Kandimalla, R., Thirumala, V, & Reddy, P.H. (2017). Is Alzheimer’s disease a Type 3 Diabetes? A critical appraisal. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – Molecular Basis of Disease, 1863(5), 1078-1089. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbadis.2016.08.018.
  • Sisson, M. (n.d.). The Definitive Guide to Metabolic Flexibility. Retrieved from https://www.marksdailyapple.com/definitive-guide-to-metabolic-flexibility/
  • Friedrich, C. (n.d.) What is Metabolic Flexibility? Retrieved from https://dev.cathe.com/what-is-metabolic-flexibility/

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

7 thoughts on “What Probiotics Should I Take? Here Are the BEST Probiotics We’ve Tried!”

    1. I’ve never heard of Renew Health actually. Do you mean RenewLife? At first glance, i see numbers after all/most of the strains, which gives me pause, and the touting of all the billions of CFUs. But if they really do have a lot of research (good research that’s related and not 100% paid for by the company) backing their strains or product, that’s really cool.

      🙂 Katie

  1. This post is AWESOME! I never considered rotating probiotics. My daughter and I have been using the same probiotic supplement for about 3 years, so I think it’s time for us to switch it up.

    I’m super excited to try Just Thrive, Seed and Mary Ruth…it’s so hard to decide which one to start with!

    How often do you recommend rotating or switching to brand?

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Hi Megan, I’m so glad this post was helpful for you! Katie recommends switching whenever your bottle runs out. With most brands that will be about every month since many of them contain a 30 day supply.

  2. Kimberly Jeffrey

    So I was wondering what your “rash” was? I think mine is candida – it’s on my legs – arms – chest – back of my neck – too if my hands! I keep asking God to please keep it from my face and vagina – I am MISERABLE – I try not to scratch – however once I start it’s like I can not control myself ??????
    My chiropractor- wellness dr hasn’t seen the rash since it has spread – I go tomorrow – I just wondered if you did anything did the itch – UGHHHH – I’m sorry I just want to cry – and not freak out thinking it’s something else
    Thank you for any insight you can give me
    Kim

    1. Hey Kimberly, So sorry you’re dealing with a rash! 🙁 🙁 I did think my rash was candida and you can see what I did here: https://www.kitchenstewardship.com/if-youve-ever-eaten-sugar-you-probably-have-candida-symptoms-yes-you-you-in-the-chair-read-this/ (and 2 other posts linked from there).

      However, when I did testing 2 years ago, I didn’t have any candida overgrowth. I was recently diagnosed with a connective tissue autoimmune disease, so that’s the root cause. I’ve had GREAT success with this homeopathic protocol: https://kellythekitchenkop.com/more-how-to-heal-eczema-with-homeopathy/

      Hope you find something in there (but also a practitioner who can help you find YOUR root cause) that helps!!
      Blessings, Katie

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