We have over 100 trillion bacteria in our gut. They are, or should be, mostly good bacteria. A common term known when one has an overgrowth of bad bacteria is yeast overgrowth, or candida flare up. We need to increase the number of good bacteria coming into the body so they can help colonize, yes colonize, and grow their numbers. This, in turn, helps to crowd out the bad bacteria or overgrowth that can cause issues of digestion, inflammation, mood swings, fatigue, trouble sleeping, and an inability to focus.
Probiotics help to keep the balance in your digestive tract, strengthen the immune system, and feed your brain too. The brain is directly affected by the gut and the microbes in it. If the gut is weak it affects the ability of neurotransmitters (brain messengers) such as serotonin, dopamine and GABA from being created. These neurotransmitters affect mood, sleep, appetite, ability to focus, and stay calm.
Knowing which probiotic formula to take can be daunting. It is a mass of unknown products to most people. Quality is key, so choosing the right company and the right formula for your needs is essential. You will also see something referred to as “colony forming units” (CFU’s). This refers to the number of bacteria in the product. Most doctors say you should have, at least, 40 billion CFU’s, but this varies greatly due to age and need.
More is not always better
The high number of colony forming units (CFU’s) can be good if you are not concerned with an autoimmune response. Really high numbers can trigger an autoimmune response in some people. Probiotics must be able to exert their benefits on the host through growth and/or activity in the human body (Collins et al., 1998; Morelli, 2000). It is therefore the action, and not the source (or the numbers) of the probiotic microorganism that is a key factor in choosing a probiotic.
CFU’s are important, but only if the product is able to survive the high acid levels in the stomach to allow the greatest exposure there. They must also be able to adhere to the epithelial cells to be carried throughout the gastrointestinal tract and further colonize it with their increased growth of good bacteria. Epithelial cells in the lining of the digestive tract mobilize and absorb nutrients.
Dr. Ohhira’s probiotics by Essential Formulas is a naturally fermented product that contains both probiotics and prebiotics in one small soft gel. The prebiotic is naturally occurring, as it has grown along with the probiotics during the natural fermentation process. There are 12 strains of quality bacterium in each capsule. These capsules can be punctured and squeezed out into any beverage for non-pill takers.
On the important note of the strain, Strep. thermophilus, and the concern of it triggering symptoms in those with PANDAS/PANS, (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections), I have received a clear response from the scientists who make Dr. Ohhira’s probiotics by Essential Formulas; from Dr. Takahata with Biobank (manufacture of Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotic, and the lead researcher and protoge of Dr. Ohhira), who states:
“Streptococcus genus consists of 60 species, and there is a Pyogenic group within Streptococcus genus that shows pathogenicity. This group consists of 14 bacterial species and 5 subspecies including “beta-hemolytic” species that rupture the red blood cells. And they are categorized into group A, group B etc. based on serotypes (Lancefield).
As for PANS and PANDAS you inquired about, pathogenic bacteria in group A like Streptococcus pyogenes, Streptococcus dysgalactiae etc. are said to be causative species.
Other than these, Streptococcus agalactiae and S. peumoniae are known to belong to group B. In each species categorized by Lancefield grouping has (a)species that show(s) pathogenicity.
Streptococcus thermophilus used in our products does not belong to any group and is a safe species without hemolyzing property.
Also S. thermophilus is approved as a starter bacteria of yogurt in Codex international food standards set by WHO and FAO. Therefore, the consumption of S. thermophilus does not have any negative influence on PANS or PANDAS.”
Probiotics for infants:
Human strain probiotics
Human strain probiotics are typically derived from human source. They are from the same source as which they are working in humans, so are easily able to survive in the conditions within the organism that is their natural habitat. This makes them a good choice.
The company Seroyal has extremely high quality products that are also backed by science. Their human strain probiotic formula is Genestra HMF. This product does contain fructooligosaccharides (FOS), a fiber that helps to fight off the unhealthy bacteria, but some people have difficulty digesting it. A good idea before ingesting would be to muscle test to be sure your body accepts it well.
- Bacillus Coagulans: reduces inflammation and increases the number of good bacteria.
- Bacillus Subtilis HU58: stimulates the immune system and is known as a powerful deterrent of bad bacteria.
- Bacillus Clausii: Found in many products. Known for its ability to rebuild positive microflora in post-antibiotic treatment.
Prebiotics are the food source for the probiotic stains. This food needs to be available to them when they are in the gut so that they can thrive in this environment. Many products do not contain a prebiotic and must be added as an additional supplement.
Quality probiotics need to be non-GMO, have no added fillers, and be gluten free.
It is always important to discuss any new supplement with a qualified practitioner before using.
I have gone into detail about probiotics in my book: Naturally Healing Autism: The Complete Step-By-Step Resource Handbook for Parents.