“With probiotics, it’s all about survival,” Vincent Pedre, M.D., gut health specialist and medical director of Pedre Integrative Health, told mbg. “These delicate microorganisms must survive several obstacles: the manufacturing process, shelf life, and (once you take them) the acid in your stomach environment to reach your intestines, where they do their job.”
To help ensure probiotic bacteria survival, Pedre recommends taking a high-quality, high-potency probiotic supplement with Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains. Although not a necessary feature of probiotic products, the stomach acid piece of the equation can be semi-troubleshooted with enteric-coated or bioshield capsules that are more likely to withstand harsh stomach acid and release their contents within the small intestine.
But as mbg’s director of scientific affairs Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., R.D.N. points out, these types of capsules come with another consideration: “These enteric-coated delivery formats include more additives (or chemical excipients, you know, the “Other ingredients” section) in the formula in order to achieve this release profile. It’s unavoidable, and thus a less clean formula overall.” Plus, as mentioned, it’s just as easy to be mindful to take your probiotic supplement at a time of day when your stomach acid levels are naturally lower (not mid-or-after mealtime).