This is the only probiotic that keeps the bloating down when I travel

Here’s the thing: While probiotic supplements show a lot of promise, it was very early in the research, Jampolis says, and there are many factors that go into whether or not a specific probiotic supplement will benefit you. I think it’s really important to be smart about them, he says.

Specifically, pay attention to which strain or strains a probiotic contains to make sure it’s right for the problem you’re trying to solve. For example, the right probiotic strain or strains for someone dealing with immune health issues is different than what is most effective for a woman dealing with recurring urinary tract infections.

It can be confusing for the average shopper to know which strains are well-suited to which health conditions, so Jampolis suggests speaking with a medical specialist for personalized recommendations. For example, if you’re looking for something for a specific gut condition, talk to your gastroenterologist, he says. Want help with a vaginal problem? Consult a gynecologist. Because it’s their field, they’re more likely to follow the research and be able to advise you on which products actually have the right strains and in the right doses, Jampolis explains. (Also important: It’s a good idea to talk to your health care provider first before starting a probiotic, just to make sure it won’t interfere with any medications or supplements you’re already taking, Ehsani says.)

Beyond that, look for supplements that have been produced under good manufacturing practices, or GMP (a system that ensures products are manufactured consistently and adhere to quality standards), says Jampolis, and that are third-party tested to ensure transparency, adds Gilberg-Lenz. .

For this, consider the certifications on the label. Those from independent organizations, such as the United States Pharmacopoeia, NSF International or, are a good sign because they can assure you of product quality and adherence to rigorous standards, Johnson says. Also look at what else is on the label. Johnson says a trusted brand will provide clear and transparent labeling, including the list of ingredients, potency, expiration date and any other relevant information. He suggests steering away from products with vague or misleading labels and instead recommends brands that prioritize research, create evidence-based formulations and provide detailed, science-backed information about their products. Reputable brands often publish their research results in peer-reviewed journals or make them accessible on their website, Johnson says.

Try to buy directly from a company whenever possible, Gilberg-Lenz says, rather than from unauthorized third-party retailers. And pay attention to a product’s potency or the number of live bacteria or colony-forming units (CFUs) per dose, Johnson says. If you want to maintain gut health and overall well-being, a supplement with 1 billion to 10 billion CFU per dose may be enough for most people, he says. Bonus points if the label specifies how many CFUs are active at the time of the products expirysays Jampolis, as this confirms how many bacteria will be alive for as long as you take the product.

To that end, many probiotic supplements still need refrigeration (meaning they’re not shelf-stable) unless the company has a unique manufacturing process, Jampolis says. So if they’re not, that’s probably a red flag, he says.

Finally, consider the cost. While Jampolis doesn’t believe you need to spend a fortune on probiotic supplements, if you want quality products that have been rigorously researched and tested, you’ll probably have to accept a higher price. Companies that are investing in research are likely to charge a bit more, Jampolis says.

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