If you haven’t been taking probiotics or eating fermented foods, you should definitely get on that – now.

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There’s a reason your gut is called your second brain. It contains the “enteric nervous system,” otherwise known as ENS. According to Dr. Michael Gershon, author of The Second Brain (1998) and a quote by Scientific American, “Technically known as the enteric nervous system, the second brain consists of sheaths of neurons embedded in the walls of the long tube of our gut, or alimentary canal, which measures about nine meters end to end from the esophagus to the anus. The second brain contains some 100 million neurons, more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system.”

If you are eating healthy foods and avoiding the bad ones, your ENS tells your brain about it. “About 90 percent of the fibers in the primary visceral nerve, the vagus, carry information from the gut to the brain and not the other way around” (Scientific American). Probiotics aide the enteric nervous system, linking your gut directly to your brain and preventing health problems such as candida overgrowth, a regular gut flora imbalance, and other bacterial issues that could lead to, or worsen, mental health issues such as brain fog, Depression, and Bipolar Disorder.

You should also take probiotics any time you are on a round of antibiotics. Antibiotics aren’t miracle-workers: they don’t just destroy the bad bacteria, but they kill all bacteria, including the good stuff. If you don’t take probiotics with your antibiotics, your gut flora can become imbalanced for an entire year or more. It may also lead to candida, a type of yeast, to overgrow in your digestive system and sometimes, cause holes in your stomach lining, also known as “leaky gut.”

So, you want to balance your gut flora and get your gut-mental health in check. Unfortunately, health stores have aisles of different types of probiotics. There are unrefrigerated ones in the supplement aisles. There are entire refrigerators full of different kinds: maybe there are 12 billion in one brand and 5 billion in the other. Some are super expensive and others are suspiciously cheap. Is there any master list that can help us out, though?

Reviews.com took the matter into their own hands and researched which brands of probiotics contain at least 1 billion colony forming units, has multiple strains of bacteria, best bacteria viability, and contain bacteria strains that are most effective. They broke their results into a chart:

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Courtesy of Reviews.com

Here are their top picks (Use Command+F, or Ctrl+F to find what you want: antibiotic recovery, IBS, etc):
1- Islands Miracle Ultra-30 Probiotics


From their research, this probiotic is the top pick for general gut health. Reviews states: “Islands Miracle Ultra-30 Probiotics has 18 different strains total, and it includes nine of the ten we wanted in a general health probiotic. Each serving comes with 30 billion CFUs per serving.” Sounds like a good one to me!
Buy this probiotic for ~$27.50 on Amazon.

2- MegaFood MegaFlora
Yes, this is the one you see everywhere. Your hippie friend from college probably has this in his kitchen. I have personally used this one. You saw it in Whole Foods once. According to Reviews, this one is the best for antibiotic recovery, so pop one in while you’re taking an fq (just kidding!)
Buy this probiotic for ~$44.61 on Amazon.

3- Renew Life Ultimate Flora Extra Care 30 Billion
Do you have an immune disorder? Do you have a virus or bacterial infection? Ultimate Flora probiotic is the best one to jump-start your immune system. It also has the highest label accuracy (87%) from Labdoor. Awesome!
Buy this probiotic for ~$15.77 on Amazon.

4- Dr. Formulas Nexabiotic Advanced Multi-Probiotic
Not only does this bottle have the cutest illustration of an intestine I’ve ever seen, but apparently it is the bomb for people with IBS/IBD. Reviews claims it has a faint peanut butter smell… hmm…
Buy this probiotic for ~$14.82 on Amazon.

That’s it! Those are the top 4.

Check out the full breakdown of these probiotics and why they were ranked so highly compared to others on the Reviews website.

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Related Content:

Improve Your Digestive System | Discovering Your Happiness
The Type of Probiotic That May Reverse Your Depression | Our Better Health
Fermenting Foods to Soothe an Older Gut | Write Into Life


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This post was a partnership with Reviews.com explicitly for this article only. I did not receive any payment for this article.

Some of the links in this post are affiliated links and The Barefoot Aya may receive a percentage of the item purchased. This does not mean that any company supports The Barefoot Aya nor does it mean that I do not fully recommend these products. I would never link to a product unless I fully recommend it.

Photo Credit: tumpatel.tumblr.com


Probiotic Supplements | Reviews
Dr. Michael Gershon’s The Second Brain (1998)
The Brain-Gut Connection | Johns Hopkins Medicine
Think Twice: How the Gut’s “Second Brain” Influences Mood and Well-Being | Scientific American