Probiotics: A Healthy Gut Microbiome is Essential for Overall Health

Feb 09, 2022

Probiotics: A Healthy Gut Microbiome is Essential for Overall Health

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics, defined internationally by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are: “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”1 The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies probiotics for human consumption as “live biotherapeutics.”2–3 The human body hosts trillions of microorganisms and many are beneficial, however some may be harmful. These microorganisms which live both in and on the body, such as in our gut and on our skin, make up our microbiome.4

To qualify as a probiotic, the organism must be non-pathogenic, demonstrate ability to survive stomach acidic environment, resist effect of bile salts, and have the ability to compete successfully against “resident” gut organisms for an appreciable length of time.1-4

Why Do We Need Probiotics?

Probiotics normally live in a healthy balance with other bacteria in our digestive tract. Under certain circumstances however, this balance may be disrupted by physical stress, poor nutrition, unsanitary environment, aging, traveling, etc. Probiotics offer support for overall digestive health. This includes supporting regularity of bowel movements and consistency of stool, as well as supporting digestive balance. The production and absorption of certain nutrients in the colon are better utilized with balanced gut flora, and may be achieved by using probiotics.5-7†

How Do We Know Probiotics Are Good for Us?

Clinical research has long shown the benefits and safe use of using probiotics for digestive health, and more recent research has demonstrated the connection between immune, heart and brain health. According to the CRN 2020 Consumer Survey, 57% of people take probiotics for digestive health or general health, while 51% of people take probiotics for immune support.8 This is important because 70% of the immune system is found in the gut. Studies around the globe routinely report the role probiotics can play in keeping us healthy.

Probiotics can be identified by their genus, species and strain for the microorganism(s) they contain. Various probiotic strains may exert varying effects on the body (e.g. digestive, immune, etc.) and different strains from the same species may confer different benefits. [For example: Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 has shown to help support digestive and immune health, while Bifidobacterium lactis BI-04 has been studied for effects on immune health.]

Microorganisms Used as Probiotics:
























  • Probiotic bacteria from the genus Lactobacillus have shown to help with digestive issues such as occasional bloating, gassiness, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea and constipation.†9
  • Lactobacillus Acidophilus may naturally help support digestive balance and a healthy gut,†4,7 while Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG may naturally help relieve occasional gas, bloating, abdominal discomfort†9-12
  • The genus, Bifidobacterium, such as Bifidobacterium lactus HN019 may naturally help relieve occasional constipation and irregularity†10,13
  • Other probiotic bacteria, such as Lactobacillus plantarum (HEAL 9) and Lactobacillus paracasei (8700:2) have been reported to support immune system functions.11
  • Bacillus Coagulans IS-2 is a probiotic that is shelf-stable and resistant to heat and may naturally support digestive health.†14-16 Studies in adults with diarrhea-predominant IBS have shown that taking Bacillus coagulans daily for 56-90 days improves quality of life and decreases uncomfortable IBS symptoms (bloating, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and stool frequency) when compared with placebo.14-16 Research continues to demonstrate how probiotics contribute to supporting overall health and wellness.

Probiotic Mechanism of Action:

Suggested mechanisms of action for probiotics include the following:

  • Crowding-out of “resident” organisms and preventing them from adhering to gut
  • Production of molecules (bacteriocins) that are capable of destroying other organisms
  • Production of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) as metabolites from the fermentation dietary fiber or resistant starch; these SCFAs can lower intestinal lumen pH to levels harmful to other organisms

How To Select the Right Probiotic?

To select the probiotic that is the best for each individual, there are a few tips to keep in mind.

Purchase your probiotic from a well-known brand that you know and trust. A trusted brand will disclose the probiotic strain used in the product formulation, as well as providing a website and toll-free number on the label to address consumer questions.

Read product label to assure it is describing the health benefit you are seeking. Also, a probiotic label should provide:

  1. Amount/Quantity: a probiotic should include the amount of live organisms, which is also referred to as Colony Forming Units (CFUs). It should include the number of CFUs, not just the weight.
  2. Identity: a probiotic should list for each live organism and the benefits. The brand or manufacturer should be able to confirm that the CFUs in the product for purchase are supported by clinical research.
  3. Viability: a probiotic should guarantee the CFUs through shelf life or expiration date, rather than at time of manufacture. Follow suggested use and storage on the label. It’s important to take the product per the suggested use. For example, it may be important to take the product with a cool or room temperature beverage and a meal.

Should I Take a Probiotic Supplement?

It’s important for patients to communicate with their healthcare professionals about any changes to their daily regimen including dietary supplements. Work together to understand personal nutrition needs as well as current dietary patterns to identify nutrient gaps. For those who are still unable to meet their nutrient needs from diet alone, it’s important to discuss the need to fill any potential nutrient gaps with dietary supplements, as a safe and effective way to ensure adequate intake of all essential nutrients.

About Nature Made®

Over the last 50 years, Nature Made has been a trusted leader in the wellness industry. They have helped pioneer quality standards for vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements, and remain dedicated to formulating products backed by science. Committed to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), Nature Made’s quality extends to every aspect of our production, from purchasing high-quality raw materials to routine testing for purity and potency. In fact, they were the first national supplement brand to have a product verified by United States Pharmacopeia (USP), and it is the national supplement brand with the most products carrying the USP Verified Mark, verification that products meet stringent quality criteria for purity and potency. Nature Made is also the #1 Pharmacist Recommended Supplement Brand in 9 Categories**

**Based on U.S. News & World Report – Pharmacy Times Survey, 2021

†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


  1. FAO/WHO. Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Evaluation of Health and Nutritional Properties of Probiotics in Food Including Powder Milk with Live Lactic Acid Bacteria. Oct 2001.
  2. Sanders, ME. Probiotics: definition, sources, selection, and uses. Clin Infect Dis 2008;46:S58–61.
  3. Vaillancourt, J. Regulating pre-and probiotics: a U.S. FDA perspective. In: Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Ending the war metaphor: the changing agenda for unraveling the host-microbe relationship. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. 2006:229-37.
  4. Araya, M et al. Probiotics in food: Health and nutritional properties and guidelines for evaluation. Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Evaluation of Health and Nutritional Properties of Probiotics in Food including Powder Milk with Live Lactic Acid Bacteria. Published 2001.
  5. Slavin J. Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits. Nutrients 2013;5(4):1417-1435.
  6. Abrams SA, et al. A combination of prebiotic short- and long-chain inulin-type fructans enhances calcium absorption and bone mineralization in young adolescents. Am J Clin Nutr 2005;82(2):471–476.
  7. Martin BR, et al. Fructo-oligosaccharides and calcium absorption and retention in adolescent girls. J Am Coll Nutr 2010;29(4):382–386.
  8. CRN 2020 Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements.
  9. Saggioro A. Probiotics in the Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. Bowel_14.aspx
  10. Magro, DO et al. Effect of yogurt containing polydextrose, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium HN019: a randomized, double-blind, controlled study in chronic constipation. Nutrition Journal 2014.
  11. Ducrotte P,et al. Clinical trial: Lactobacillus plantarum 299V (DSM 9843) improves symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. World J Gastroenterol 2012;18(30):4012–4018.
  12. Berggren A, et al. Randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled study using new probiotic lactobacilli for strengthening the body immune defence against viral infections. Eur J Nutr 2011;50(3):203-210.
  13. Waller PA, et al. Dose-response effect of Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 on whole gut transit time and functional gastrointestinal symptoms in adults. Scand J Gastroenterol 2011;46(9):1057–1064.
  14. Gupta AK and Maity C. Efficacy and safety of Bacillus coagulans LBSC in irritable bowel syndrome: A prospective, interventional, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study. Medicine (Baltimore). 2021;100(3):e23641.
  15. Majeed M, et al. Bacillus coagulans MTCC 5856 supplementation in the management of diarrhea predominant irritable bowel syndrome: a double blind randomized placebo controlled pilot clinical study. Nutr J 2016;15:21.
  16. Dolin BJ. Effects of a proprietary Bacillus coagulans preparation on symptoms of diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol 2009;31(10):655-9.