Probiotics are very often part of any health and wellbeing maintenance or treatment programme. They are just so important to our health and everyday we see research published that bears this out.

Most of my patients take either the Biocare BioacidophilusBioacidophilus Forte or Nutrigold’s Pro-otic.

Pro-otic is a multi-strain product which you can keep stable at room temperature. It is a lower dose probiotic but very useful. It IS grown on a dairy substrate so I tend not to advise it for dairy intolerants (although actually I have never known anyone react to it, but best to be safe).

Prof. Lawrence Plaskett (who trained me) has written a very technical 16 page newsletter about probiotics called Bowel Flora, which you may find a useful and fascinating read so check it out here if you need convincing why probiotics are so important to wellbeing and health. The resulting product is Nutrigold’s Pro-otic, which is why I like it.

The Biocare ones are all dairy-free and come in several different types for adults and children.  Basically, all the Bio-acidophilus products actually contain the two key beneficial strains: bioacidophilus and bifido bacteria. The difference is in the strength.

The standard one (Bioacidophilus) is 10 billion bacteria cells per capsule , the Bioacidophilus Forte is 30 billion and Bioacidophilus Forte Plus contains a whopping 75 billion per capsule.

General Tips for Taking Probiotics Effectively

There is some research to suggest that there are three ways you can help probiotics to actually implant in the gut, which is what we ideally want them to do – not wash through. 

  • Avoid too many strains in a product as they compete.
  • Take concentrated doses a few times a week – so work out how many you want to take over a week and then divide it into 2, 3 or 4, then take that dose as a kind of ‘blast’ dose. eg. want to take 210 billion over a week (ie. one of the 30 billion capsules per day). Divide it into 3 doses of 70 billion and take that 3 times during the week, nicely spaced out. Or, you could do 100 billion twice a week. If that is too strong for you (upsets your gut), divide it into lower doses.
  • Take them at least 2 hours away from anything that inhibits so-called ‘quorum sensing,’ which is one of the mechanisms the bacteria uses to implant effectively. Those include flavonoids like garlic, quercetin, luteolin, and don’t forget eating onions, leeks, garlic etc will also inhibit them. You can get an idea of foods high in flavonoids here and specifically in quercetin here. 

For Wellbeing:

I normally recommend 1-2 caps per day of the Bio-acidophilus, but sometimes it can be cheaper and easier to just take 1 capsule of a stronger one. Depends on your preference and needs. I quite favour dividing dose in general so that you get some in the morning and some at night. Try working out how much you pay per capsule – could you save money by buying a larger size or a stronger version? Probably.

For Adults:

For adults, the minimum level I normally prescribe for maintenance is about 5-10 billion per day. Anything that talks in millions by the way is usually a complete waste of time unless you take lots if it.

For Adults with Allergies:

For adults with allergies, I would say either Custom Probiotics D-Lactate Free Probiotics  or GutPro/Smidge Sensitive are best, if not exactly cheap. Those are the ones most likely to suit people with allergies, but everyone is different obviously. We have been told that the bacteria are grown on dairy-free, soy-free and grain-free mediums, although some corn is used during fermentation so hyper-sensitives beware. They also shouldn’t increase histamine levels and have no fillers or additives in. It’s best to start with a low dose and increase very slowly.

If they don’t suit, then it may be best to start with just a small dose of Biocare Baby Infantis and increase very slowly before trying other probiotics.

Also, read how to heal a leaky gut to prevent further allergies.

For Treatment:

For treatment of a suspect gut, I would recommend a minimum of 20-30 billion per day.

After antibiotics, I would normally recommend a month of high levels eg. the  Biocare Bioacidophilus Forte Plus product at 75 billion 1 a day would be ideal here, or just take 2 of the Forte ones to give 60 billion. See the tips above on how to make them even more effective.

There is much research on how different strains can benefit different health issues. Here is a useful rundown from Open Gate Acupuncture in case it helps:

Probiotics: Wasting Your Money? Not if you know 3 things

Microbiome & Personalised Gut Formulas

The Flore test analyses your gut microbiome for bacteria, fungi, yeasts and parasites based on US, UK and European gut data, depending on where you are from. There are kits for adults, teens, tots and babies. You then get a detailed report about what’s been found, plus dietary recommendations on how to correct imbalances in your gut.

The in-house lab then formulates a personalised gut formula containing a mix of probiotics, prebiotics, botanicals and enzymes, depending on your needs. They choose from over 120 different strains and botanicals to blend your customised one-a-day formula.

They send you the report and 90 days worth of the formula, then another test kit a few weeks in and a reformulated supply based on your new results. This is a kind of subscription service that you can do as long as you like or can cancel easily at any time.

The reason I chose this is because you do a questionnaire beforehand and you can state any sensitivities or diet issues you have eg. TGF, Grain free etc and they will make sure the formula complies, usually by giving you a customised lypholised powder rather than capsules and leaving out any prebiotics, herbs etc. They seem to be very switched on to sensitivities and don’t use any excipients, fillers etc and are open to reformulating if you react to anything. 

Click here for more info. 

In Pregnancy:

For pregnancy, the Pro-otic or 1 capsule of the Bioacidophilus would be fine, more if you need it. In the last 3 months, it’s also a good idea to add Bifido Infantis to start providing the baby with the right bacteria for a healthy immune system.

For Children:

For babies, Biocare Baby Infantis Powder or Baby Biotic is the right choice up to 6 months and then I like to recommend a combination of this and the banana or strawberry acidophilus powder up to a year. 

For older children, the acidophilus powder is fine on its own, or use the Nutrigold Pro-otic if they are OK with capsules, or MindLinx if there is any sign of allergies like eczema, food intolerance or whatever as it contains glutamine to help heal an early leaky gut.

See here for a post I have written specifically on using which probiotics for different ages and when you might consider giving them. 

You could also do the Flore test on babies, toddlers and children (choose the correct test for their ages). This would give you real insight into their actual gut status and a customised probiotic/gut formula for them, tweaked as per each test. 

General Rules

Always take good quality probiotics. There are many on the market which are not worth the money you pay as they have generally not been manufactured or stored properly and are dead long before you open them.

Particularly do not think that probiotic drinks are a good substitute for proper probiotics; they are not. Why would you want to give probiotics in a sugar and dairy-laden drink that contains very little of the right bacteria cells? Good marketing. Not so good for health, in my opinion, although I suppose some is better than none!

You can take probiotics on an empty tum to avoid them getting killed in stomach acid. However, recent research suggests just before a meal containing fat is good to help the transport of them to where they need to be. See whatever suits you.

I hope that helps. Probiotics are often part of any wellbeing programme I recommend. They are crucial for your digestion, absorption and immune system, to name just a few of their benefits. Remember to read the Bowel Flora factsheet for more in-depth info.


Gut Tests

Read the Gut Tests Overview here and see all the various gut tests, prices and sample reports. 

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