In the age of modern medicine, antibiotics play a major role in preventing serious illnesses. Unfortunately, they also kill off beneficial strains of bacteria leaving our microbiome weak and vulnerable. So we, as a society, turn to THE PROBIOTIC SUPPLEMENT to help our bodies regain a healthy flora.
These are found at most grocery stores, health food stores and pharmacies. The only trick is that probiotic supplements can quite expensive. And there is a risk of wasting your money on “snake oil”.
How to choose a probiotic supplement
In the world of supplements, you get to choose between tablets & capsules, refrigerated or not. I really can’t say which ones are best. I personally have tried to culture several very expensive brands of probiotics without any luck. One of them was even purchased through my naturopathic doctor, and we both assumed that it was a very good brand.
I’m not alone with my dismal findings about the effectiveness of probiotic supplements. This British Study tested 8 different brands of probiotics with very little success. At this point I think you would have better luck with growing sea monkeys.
How to test a probiotic supplement
The best way to test whether a probiotic supplement is active is to try to culture it! Most probiotic supplements contain bacterial strains that will culture in milk. Even a supplement that has more unique varieties of cultures will contain some strains that will culture in milk.
Whether you use a vegan milk or regular milk, follow the basic yogurt making procedure using the probiotic supplement as the culture. Most tablets, capsules and powers claim to contain billions of bacteria, so they should readily culture your milk within 24 hours. If after 24 hours you don’t have a tangy yogurt then you probably paid for a dead probiotic.
Grocery store probiotics: yogurt, kefir, kombucha and more
Buying probiotic products in your grocery store is a much better way to get probiotics into your diet. The only trick is to know what you’re looking for.
-Anything that is shelf stable. Probiotics are naturally alive and not stable for the long term.
-Likewise, if it’s not in the fridge it’s not probiotic.
-Kefir and kombucha are effervescent when they’re alive. If the container is sealed when you buy it, then it’s no longer living. Even if it is bubbly… a sealed bottle of kombucha isn’t alive. There is too many risks involved (exploding bottles, alcohol production, a super sour product).
-In fact I would say MOST grocery store kombucha isn’t alive. There are some exceptions, for example there are kombucha brewers selling to hippy grocery stores in my city. So beware, most grocery store kombucha is just soda pop dressed up as a health product.
-Yogurt! All yogurts have some live culture, though they do vary greatly on how “alive” they are. In my Canadian neck of the woods, I like Liberte and Greek Gods, which both have very active culture.
-Other cultured dairy products like buttermilk, sour cream, kefir (it’s usually not real kefir, but it does have lactobacteria living in it).
-Refrigerated fresh products like miso, sauerkraut and kimchi. It depends on what is being made in your region, but you may be able to find all sorts of living probiotics. Usually these are VERY EXPENSIVE, which is a good reason to try making a few DIY probiotics.