Which bacteria?

The most common probiotic bacteria come from two genus groups: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, although there are many others. Each group of bacteria has different species. Researchers are still studying which should be used for which health conditions, but a few have been demonstrated to help many conditions.

If you’re travelling abroad …
Don’t let your holiday be ruined. Taking Saccharomyces boulardii weeks before your trip may help prevent traveller’s diarrhoea, which usually comes from ingesting food or water that’s been contaminated with bacteria.

If you’re lactose intolerant …
Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Streptococcus thermophilus produce the enzyme lactase that helps the gut digest and absorb lactose.

If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or gastrointestinal distress …
Bifidobacterium infantis , Lactobacillus plantarum or Bifidobacterium bifidum have been shown to help regulate bowel movements and relieve bloating, pain and gas.

If you’re taking antibiotics …
These drugs wipe out the bacteria in your body — the good with the bad — leaving you susceptible to diarrhoea or infections. Taking a probiotic can help prevent this. Try taking Lactobacillus rhamnosus and/or Saccharomyces boulardii six hours after each dose of antibiotics and continue for one to two weeks after you stop taking the antibiotic.

If you have eczema …
Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus fermentum have been shown to help treat those itchy, scaly skin rashes — especially in children.

If you have a cold …
Some research suggests that Bifidobacterium animalis and Lactobacillus acidophilus can help reduce the length and severity of the common cold and flu by enhancing the body’s production of antibodies.

If you have a vaginal infection …
Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri have been shown to help prevent and clear up bacterial vaginosis and urinary tract infections in some individuals.

Researchers point to Lactobacillus reuteri and Lactobacillus rhamnosus as the most effective ones to protect against yeast infections as they’re especially adept at colonising the vaginal environment and fighting off unwelcome bacteria and fungi.

If you have bad breath, gingivitis or periodontitis …
Lactobacillus reuteri promote oral health by binding to teeth and gums, preventing plaque formation in the mouth. Research has also demonstrated the ability of Weissella cibaria to freshen breath by inhibiting the production of sulphur compounds in the mouth.