Types of Probiotics: Identifying the Individual Bacterial Strains
“Probiotics” is an umbrella term that describes a number of friendly bacteria that make up the gut microbiome. There are an estimated 500 different types of probiotics; the majority of these have been cataloged but otherwise have received next to zero scientific research. This post will identify some of the more well-documented probiotic strains and their diverse roles in digestion and gut regulation.
The Main Probiotic Strains and Subtypes
Probiotic strains are further classified into subcategories, and each of these sub-species has a different effect on the body. We’ll identify these types followed by the subtypes.
This is perhaps the most common probiotic strain and is readily available in fermented foods, such as yogurt, miso soup and kimchi. Lactobacillus’ main function is to assist in digestion. Certain subtypes from this species assist in lactose digestion for those whose bodies normally struggle to absorb milk sugars. In this post, we list the most common sub-strains for lactobacillus. Still, we’re not biased toward this probiotic; we give it the most attention because it’s the most commonplace and documented species.
Some of the common lactobacillus subtypes include
- Lactobacillus Acidophilus – This strain subtype is so common and useful that we dedicated an entire article to the benefits of L. Acidophilus. In short, L. Acidophilus treats diarrhea, lowers cholesterol and may even promote dental health. The mouth, after all, is another body part teeming with both good and bad bacteria.
- Lactobacillus Reuteri – We also did an entire article on the benefits of L. Reuteri. This probiotic strain has health benefits you might not expect from a probiotic. For one, it improves thyroid function. It also improves sex drive and even prevents balding in men. Who would’ve thought?
- Lactobacillus Rhamnosus – Studies1 suggest that this probiotic strain boosts immune health. Research shows that it increases phagocytic activity in the blood, meaning it protects the body from foreign cells, free radicals and dying cells.
- Lactobacillus Plantarum – In a 2012 study2, subjects that supplemented with L. Plantarum saw a greater reduction in abdominal pain and bloating compared to a placebo group. All subjects had been previously diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome.
LEARN MORE: Which Probiotic Strains Are Best for IBS?
Bifidobacterium is also found mainly in fermented foods and is a lactic acid bacterium. Its functions include breaking down foods, enhancing nutrient absorption and preventing invasion of pathogenic bacteria. This strain is also found in large quantities in the vaginal wall, making it a useful aid for treating vaginal infections. Bifidobacterium types include
- Bifidobacterium Longum – This is known for anti-inflammatory properties and protects the mucous membrane wall. This probiotic strain breaks down carbs, including some cereal grains that the human body otherwise cannot digest. This also happens to be one of the ampler probiotics present in human breast milk.
- Bifidobacterium breve – Some strains are also food for the brain. Studies show B. Breve may preserve cognitive function and offset Alzheimer’s disease in older men and women. Research3 also suggests it plays a role in skin health and preventing eczema.
- Bifidobacterium Infantis – This probiotic is found in your gastrointestinal tracts as well as in the oral cavity. Studies suggest it may assist in a number of issues directly or indirectly related to digestion, including chronic fatigue syndrome, ulcerative colitis and psoriasis.
This is the strain colloquially known as baker’s or brewer’s yeast. The strain treats acute diarrhea that mainly affects children. It’s also useful for adults prone to traveler’s diarrhea or diarrhea caused by antibiotic use. It may also have use for alleviating lactose intolerance. Saccharomyces include
- Saccharomyces Cerevisiae – The main functions of this sub-strain include treatment of diarrhea, most notably diarrhea from the rotavirus. Research suggests it may possibly be effective for treating acne. This probiotic is also referred to as S. Boulardii. To be more precise, S. Boulardii is actually a sub-strain of Cerevisiae. In other words, it’s a sub-strain of a sub-strain.
- Saccharomyces Pastorianus – This strain helps to break down glucose and fructose. Combined with other Saccharomyces, studies4 show it may also offset colitis and inflammatory bowel disease.
Take the Different Types of Probiotics Together
As you can see, a lot of the probiotic types and their sub-strains have overlapping qualities. There is also raging debate regarding the efficacy of multi-strain probiotics versus those that contain a single strain. Is more necessarily better? While we certainly believe in quality over quantity, there is actually evidence5 to suggest that multiple strains may have a synergistic effect and increased potency.
BEFORE YOU START: Learn About These Possible Adverse Effects of Probiotics
This is why we included multiple strains in Floracil50, which includes most of the probiotics listed here.
Probiotics Are Diverse Microorganisms
This post would go on indefinitely if we were to list all the known probiotic strains. We listed the ones with the most studies and verified benefits for human health. Since a lot of them share similar functions, you don’t need to get too caught up in what each and every strain does. A multi-strain product like Floracil50 will ensure you get the much-needed probiotics for fortifying gut health.