The Probiotic You Choose Really Does Matter
This Genuine Health Probiotic yielded actual, positive results, if admittedly subjective at this point, and did an admirable job at fulfilling wholly or partially my 12 criteria in “What Should I Look For In A Probiotic.”
In addition to the typical disclaimers (found in “General Disclaimer” and “Affiliate Disclosure”) allow me to preface everything I’m about to say by noting that I went into this with low expectations.
First, I approach probiotics the same way I do most of the vitamins and supplements I take. That is, I’m not expecting any miracles, and I’m not typically trying to address any specific problem or trying to cure something.
Mainly I take such supplements as part of an overall approach to what I hope to be positive health habits the results of which won’t really be known for years if not decades and possibly even never!
Second, I am particularly dubious regarding probiotics. I’ve taken probiotics to a limited extent for years without noticeable effect and am of the belief (although am still open to being proven wrong) that prebiotics and diet are more important to the health of the microbiome.
So, imagine my surprise when within a couple of weeks taking the Genuine Health Advanced Gut Probiotic (50 billion CFUs) I had a noticeable and positive experience. This is not confirmation bias. I expected nothing, particularly considering my experience with a similar Garden of Life product (more on that below).
I don’t think it’s necessary to get overly graphic here, but let’s just say that regarding my intestinal habits and general well-being, things became more “consistent.” Not more regular, just more consistent.
What really struck me was the fact that I did not believe I had a problem or that there was anything in particular that I had to improve.
Establishing A New Normal
It’s fascinating to me how whatever is normal for you becomes natural and expected, and so I had little to compare it with. I wasn’t in any discomfort or thought I needed to change.
And yet this particular Probiotic did make things “better.”
I think it will be very interesting to see if my Ubiome test results (still a couple weeks before they get back to me) following the “Probiotic Case” phase of the MicrobioME Project will yield any genuine data that might reflect this admittedly subjective observation.
And I should note I was taking a number of other probiotics during that phase, however the Genuine Health was one of the few that yielded noticeable results when I introduced it.
Let’s see how this product fared against the 12 criteria I laid out in “What Should I Look For In A Probiotic.”
Be sure to read to the end, as I do a quick comparison with the “Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Once Daily Men’s Probiotic” mentioned above. The contrast is both important and telling and reinforces my contention that these 12 criteria can make a difference.
1) Overall Quantity
I purposefully went with a large CFU count. While there are no standards regarding what constitutes “large,” there are certain marketplace conventions out there and for a multi-strain probiotic, 15 billion CFUs seems to be pretty common, so 50 billion was relatively large, and comprised roughly two-thirds of the CFUs I was (and at this writing still am) taking.
2) Individual Quantity
More than that, they list the quantities of each individual strain in their formula. This is unfortunately not very common among producers who more often than not make the claim that the formulation is “proprietary.”
The problem is that without that disclosure, you don’t know if, say, 40 billion of those CFUs are concentrated in just a few strains with the rest representing negligible amounts, which could largely defeat the entire purpose of taking a multi-strain (or species) formula.
3) Quantity at Expiration
To their credit, the 50 billion CFUs Genuine Health highlights on the front of the bottle are the number expected at expiration as opposed to the date of manufacture.
Many companies, including ones I genuinely like and whose products I use, do the exact opposite, meaning when you buy one of those products, it already has fewer CFUs than what is advertised up front. Genuine Health starts at 100 billion CFUs, which is pretty impressive and means that up until its expiration, you are likely getting more than 50 billion CFUs, potentially a lot more.
4) Identified Strains
Another big plus. Genuine Health lists every probiotic in their formula by genus, species, AND strain. That third designation is important. Many makers refuse to disclose the strains used, once again citing the proprietary nature of their formulation.
Genuine Health notes that their use of strains (or “coded strains” as they put it) is to ensure that their origin can be tracked and that in this way you can be sure that the strains used in their probiotic are all of human origin.
5) Multiple Species or Strains
This is a 15-strain formulation, and while there is no set number of strains (or when strains aren’t identified, species) that are considered sufficient, 15 has become the general marketplace convention for a a general-purpose, broadly targeted probiotic such as this.
6) Supporting Research
The company emphasizes their reliance on research-based formulations but they don’t make it easy to dig up that research. It’s there, cited in non-clickable footnotes, and often sprinkled among articles (very useful ones I should point out) that they provide.
I’m going to make some inquiries to the company and circle back on this one, so for the time being, I will give them a neutral on this one. [UPDATE 2/19/19: I changed my rating from neutral to positive, please scroll below my picture for an explanation.]
7) Third-party Testing
Like the above, they make clear they do quite a bit of testing at various stages of manufacture (including third-party manufacturers that they rely on) although they don’t provide this anywhere obvious. Like the above, I am going to inquire about this, and so remain neutral. [UPDATE 2/19/19: I changed my rating from neutral to positive, please scroll below my picture for an explanation.]
8) Other Ingredients
This part is always interesting and really forces you to confront the reality of the modern manufacturing process.
Genuine Health touts their use of vegan and “plastic free” capsules. Here is what is in them:
Hypromellose: A non-toxic synthetic modification of cellulose. A popular vegan substitute for gelatin and typically more expensive.
Gellan Gum: A viscous soluble fiber produced “artificially,” the vegan version using corn starch.
Water: Self explanatory.
I do not get too hung up on the fact that the main ingredients for the capsules are “synthetic” or “artificially” produced. Capsules do not exist in nature. This appears to be a good-faith effort to keep things as natural as possible.
The other ingredients include:
Potato Starch: Potato starch is starch extracted from potatoes.
Magnesium Stearate: A common food additive used as an emulsifier, binder and thickener and believed to be broadly safe.
Silicon Dioxide: A common flow agent generally regarded as safe, however under review by the European Food Safety Authority.
Ascorbic Acid: Otherwise known as vitamin C and nothing I would consider problematic.
I’m okay with this list and do give it a thumbs up. Anything that comes in a capsule is obviously not the same thing as pulling it directly off a tree or plant so it’s not going to be purely natural. If you’ve already decided to take a supplement, you have already decided that you are going to make some compromises. These are mine.
The compromises you make are purely up to you. I do highlight additives I personally consider counterproductive such as artificial anything and certain preservatives and sweeteners. This product appears to steer clear of those.
If you have any food allergies you are encouraged to check this out for yourself, however the label on the box I am taking reads as follows: Note: ADVANCED GUT HEALTH PROBIOTIC is free from: eggs, milk, mustard, peanuts, seafood (fish, crustaceans, shellfish), sesame, soy, sulphites, tree nuts and wheat.”
10) Survivability in the Gut
The capsule they use is designed to survive the acidic environment of the gut and pass on through to the intestines. The company claims that the capsule “Delivers up to 10x the bacteria to the gut” and references studies to that effect. I was not able to independently confirm those studies, so may revisit this, however I have no reason to believe that the capsule is anything less than sufficient, particularly given my experience with the product.
Genuine Health packages its probiotics in blister packs, in which each capsule is individually protected and sealed off from the environment until you are ready to take it. That’s pretty much the gold standard in packaging and is the only probiotic I’m currently taking that offers that added protection.
12) Reputation of The Company
My direct experience with the company is limited, and I’d prefer they make it easier to follow up on the research they cite supporting their claims, so I’ll give them a neutral on this point for now, with plans to revisit this in the future as I grow more comfortable with them.
Finally, a word about the previously mentioned “Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Once Daily Men’s Probiotic.”
I don’t mean to be critical of the company. I take other products they make (one right now, in fact, as part of my “Prebiotic Case” for the MicrobioME Project) but this one came up short vs. the Genuine Health Probiotic I profiled here.
I could point out that they lack some of the transparency Genuine Health provides, such as strain identification and CFU amounts individually broken out by the species they do list, but they do at least list the individual amounts by genus, and the 50 billion CFUs listed prominently on the front of the box is as of the date of expiration, which is not surprising as I do consider this to be a quality company.
The real issue I had with the Garden of Life probiotic is that I didn’t notice any improvement or for that matter difference of any kind while I was taking it.
This was before I had launched the MicrobioME Project, and had taken them for a good month, but nothing noticeable, not like the Genuine Health.
Could it be the strains? Could it be the differing amounts of the individual probiotics? I don’t know as I don’t have that information from Garden of Life to compare, but I do find it interesting that the product with the greater transparency, yielded the greater results.
Overall, I am impressed with this probiotic, surprisingly so, and will be taking it for the foreseeable future, or at least until I decide to cease taking probiotics in a future MicrobioME Project case study.
As always, it is essential that you form your own opinion. This has to be a decision right for you, taking into account your entire health history. And by all means, consult with a medical professional as you feel necessary.
And in case you missed it above, you are both welcome and encouraged to check out our “General Disclaimer” and “Affiliate Disclosure.” While buying through these links costs you nothing extra, it does help support the work we do here and is greatly appreciated.
I have no binding ties to Genuine Health, in fact I use Amazon as my main product channel specifically to avoid any entanglements that could, while potentially being more lucrative, call into question my objectivity. When I find something better, like I did here when I switched from Garden of Life to Genuine Health, I want the flexibility to switch on a dime.
And if I find something better again, I’ll switch again, and let you know.
You can find links to all the products I am currently using or have used in the recent past on our Resource Page.
Thanks so much for reading, and please feel free to leave any questions or comments below including any experiences you’ve had with this or other probiotics. It’s that kind of exchange of information that can help everyone.
Thanks again, and take care!
UPDATE 2/19/19: I changed two of my ratings above, 5) Supporting Research, and 6) Third-Party Testing, both from neutral to positive after having heard from the company.
They responded to my inquiries regarding what I felt were shortfalls in these areas with a three-page document that satisfied me as to their thoroughness and seriousness regarding these matters and when asked agreed to let me share this document with you so you could make your own judgment: