Gut health, a domain once the reserve of nutritionists and alternative therapists, has gone mainstream. The trend can be seen playing out on supermarket shelves with an explosion in the number of foods with added good bacteria and on social media, #Guttok has more than 500 million views on TikTok.
So, what is it all about, and how can we achieve good gut health? We asked an expert to find out. Dom Kristy, a nutritionist and the founder of Evolved Foods, tells us that our gut microbiome is made up of trillions of active microorganisms that help us stay happy and healthy.
“When we look after our microbiome, in return, it looks after us,” he says. “The science between our gut and immune health, mental wellbeing and longevity is well documented, and a strong link is clear.”
As a nutritionist, Kristy recommends looking at what we eat first and ensuring we are getting a balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables and whole foods such as beans, legumes and pulses and low on ultra-processed junk food. Adding probiotics – a group of bacteria-containing foods that may help our gut microbiome, and prebiotics, which supply our existing bacteria with the fuel they need to flourish – to your daily routine in supplement form can also help.
“If you are planning to supplement prebiotics or probiotics, it’s worth considering the brand and products you’re going to buy,” he says. “Health claims can be misleading and often tend to oversell the benefits to consumers using impressive ‘sciencey’ language.”
He adds that, “If you’re ready to start taking steps [to better gut health] today, then aim to gradually increase your consumption of prebiotics or probiotics from natural sources while being selective with the brands and products you choose to supplement with.”
How we tested
With Kristy’s sound advice in our minds, we searched for gut health supplements that were backed by research or solid and authentic reviews. Then we tested them out ourselves, paying close attention to how we felt and if we could see any improvements in our overall wellbeing.
Our round-up has a range of products, including multi-species probiotic supplements and synbiotics, which combine both probiotics and prebiotics, and those that may help people with specific needs or health concerns. Get ready for the best gut health of your life.
The best probiotic and prebiotic supplements for 2022 are:
Best supplement overall – Garden of Life raw microbiome ultimate care, 30 capsules: £47.99, Gardenoflife.co.uk
Best synbiotic supplement – The Nue Co prebiotic + probiotic supplement, 60 capsules : £45, Thenueco.com
Best value for money supplement – Bio-Kult everyday gut, 30 capsules: £10.48, Bio-kult.co.uk
Best supplement for during pregnancy – Simone Thomas Wellness everyday wellness, 60 capsules: £70, Simonethomaswellness.com
Best supplement for children – Wild Nutrition child’s multi-strain biotic, 90g: £27.50, Wildnutrition.com
Best supplement for skin health – Dr Vegan skin saviour, 60 capsules: £24.99, Drvegan.com
Best supplement for immunity – Rejuvenated immune complex, 30 capsules: £20, Rejuvenated.com
Best supplement for people with digestive issues – Inessa advanced biotic complex, 30 capsules: £38.99, Inessawellness.com
Best powder supplement – Biomel complete gut, 30 servings: £28.50, Biomel.life
Best supplement for winter – Solgar ultibio immune vegetable capsules, 30 capsules: £29.50, Solgar.co.uk
Garden of Life raw microbiome ultimate care, 30 capsules
Packed into each one-a-day, easy-to-swallow vegetarian capsule is a whopping 100 billion colony-forming units (CFU) – the number of viable bacteria per dose – from 34 clinically studied strains, including lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. But that’s not all because you’ll also get a high-potency dose of raw probiotics thanks to the added Bulgarian yoghurt and wild kefir and 45mg of raw eastern European fruits and vegetables, including cherry, plum and carrot.
The blend is classed as raw because it is made in conditions below 4C, which means the bacteria cultures arrive alive and stay that way until the expiry date. The formula is also non-GMO and free from binders, fillers, carriers, and artificial colours and preservatives. We love the convenience of taking one capsule a day and like that it can be taken with or without food and can even be opened to add the contents to water, juices or smoothies. Most importantly, our tester noticed they were less bloated and more regular.
Buy now £47.99, Gardenoflife.co.uk
The Nue Co prebiotic and probiotic supplement, 60 capsules
Jules Miller, one of The Nue Co’s co-founders, has irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), so it’s hardly surprising that the brand knows its stuff when it comes to gut health. This supplement, which delivers probiotics and prebiotic inulin fibre from Jerusalem artichoke root, was developed specifically for people with IBS but is also great for everyone.
It’s slightly unusual because it contains spores instead of the typical live bacteria, and that means the 15 billion spores per dose don’t start working until they reach your small intestin. This is meant to give them a better chance of survival as they move through your body. Our tester has become a regular user of prebiotic and probiotic because of the comfortable feeling they get when taking the supplement that they think is from improved digestion.
Plus, those keen to take it regularly can sign up for a monthly subscription that gives a 20 per cent discount and see the capsules come in pouches made with recycled plastics so that you can use that incredibly stylish glass jar again and again.
Buy now £45.00, Thenueco.com
Bio-Kult everyday gut, 30 capsules
As with most things in life, consistency is key when taking care of your gut health, so you’ll need a supplement that fits in with your monthly budget. Some can be really quite pricey, but Bio-Kult everyday gut is likely to fit into all budgets.
However, it does depend on how many capsules you choose to take daily. Adults can take up to four each day and children up to two, but our tester found there were benefits even when taking only one capsule every day. This is likely because this award-winning supplement has been scientifically developed and contains 14 different live bacteria strains, with each capsule containing 2 billion live bacterial micro-organisms for your gut. If you are taking Bio-Kult either while travelling or on a course of antibiotics, a higher dose of four capsules is likely to be more effective for a short while.
Buy now £10.48, Bio-kult.co.uk
Simone Thomas Wellness everyday wellness, 60 capsules
There are many supplements designed for use before, during and in the weeks after pregnancy, but this one can be a lifelong part of your gut health routine because it is safe to take at any time of life. Take two acid-resistant capsules on an empty stomach each morning for a gut-loving 20 billion CFU hit of six different bacteria strains plus 40mg of prebiotic fructooligosaccharides.
We also love that this high-quality supplement comes in recyclable packaging and is certified vegan and cruelty free. It is among the pricier options, but there is a 20 per cent saving to be had for regular users who subscribe for a recurring monthly order.
Buy now £70.00, Simonethomaswellness.com
Wild Nutrition child’s multi-strain biotic, 90g
Start your little ones on their journey to excellent gut health with this supplement – and when we say young, we mean from birth. This powder is packed with eight strains of beneficial bacteria for 10 billion CFU per dose. Few children enjoy taking tablets, and they won’t have to here because the powder is designed to be mixed with a cold drink of water, milk or juice and gulped down or syringed into a baby’s mouth (Wild Nutrition advises against putting it in a bottle to avoid blocking the teat) or the powder can be sucked straight from an adult’s finger.
Our four-year-old tester had been suffering from a bout of constipation before trying this gut health supplement, but his mother noticed a marked difference and that he was going to the toilet more regularly a short while after starting on this product.
Buy now £27.50, Wildnutrition.com
Dr Vegan skin saviour, 60 capsules
We’ll be honest: we were slightly sceptical about the skin health benefits of taking probiotics and prebiotics – we initially thought they were just for our gut flora – but a month’s trial on this supplement has us convinced.
Skin saviour is a gut health supplement with added extras that help you glow from within. Two capsules a day will give you 5 billion live bacteria cultures, prebiotic inulin, 150mg of hyaluronic acid, your daily needs of vitamins C, A and E, selenium and zinc, plus much more. And towards the end of the trial, our tester noticed their skin becoming brighter and clearer, although they used to get only hormonal spots, and they even felt that their digestion was better.
The name is a bit of a giveaway, but Dr Vegan supplements are 100 per cent vegan and certified by The Vegan Society, and they are free of palm oil, allergens and additives. We also love that the packaging is either recyclable or biodegradable, and the free pill tin that comes with your first order is fantastic for keeping your supplements organised, whether at home or on the go.
Buy now £24.99, Drvegan.com
Rejuvenated immune complex, 30 capsules
Gut health and immunity go hand in hand, and this supplement is designed specifically to boost both. It contains prebiotics in the form of cordyceps mushrooms and beta glucans and 1.25 billion CFU of lactobacillus acidophilus probiotics per capsule. Alongside those is an immune complex that includes turmeric, acai berry, elderberry extract and astragalus root, plus vitamins D and C, zinc and selenium. Our tester felt brighter and noticed their digestion was more comfortable after a month of taking the one-a-day supplement, and they especially liked the compostable packaging.
Buy now £20.00, Rejuvenated.com
Inessa advanced biotic complex, 30 capsules
People with certain gut conditions might wonder if probiotic supplements are for them and how their body might react if they were to take them. But Inessa’s advanced biotic complex will put your mind – and gut – at ease because it is specifically designed for those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (IBD), which the brand’s founder, registered nutritional therapist Aliza Marogy, was diagnosed with as a teenager.
Each one-a-day time-release capsule contains 50 billion organisms and combines seven probiotic strains studied in IBS and IBD, as well as 5 billion saccharomyces boulardii cultures, a probiotic yeast shown to reduce inflammation of the colon to soothe the gut. The award-winning supplement also contains no prebiotics, making it suitable for those who follow a low-Fodmap diet, and it is Vegan Society registered. It’s also said to help speed up recovery from food poisoning and stomach bugs.
Buy now £38.99, Inessawellness.com
Biomel complete gut, 30 servings
We rarely need an excuse to drink a milkshake and having one with added health benefits makes the treat all the more enjoyable. Simply mix a 15g serving of Biomel complete gut powder with your usual milk – we used almond milk – for a delicious shake that contains 25 billion probiotic cultures from 13 different strains, prebiotic fibres, digestive enzymes, and vitamins and minerals such as vitamins B6, B12 and D and calcium.
Alternatively, you can add the powder to a smoothie or sprinkle it straight onto cereal to boost your breakfast. Our tester loved the taste of the Belgian dark chocolate flavour – it also comes in pure vanilla and unflavoured – and began noticing real improvements in their digestion, including reduced bloating.
Buy now £28.50, Biomel.life
Solgar ultibio immune vegetable capsules, 30 capsules
The UK government recommends that everyone consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement throughout autumn and winter, and this supplement gives you both that and gut health-boosting probiotics to help you kill two birds with one stone.
Each one-a-day capsule contains 1 billion CFU from clinically studied bacteria strains, including two that have been shown to balance and support the immune system. There are also added vitamins A and B12, which are both linked to boosting our natural defences. We tested this supplement during spring and summer, so we cannot vouch for its ability to ward off colds and flu, but we were happy with the improvements we noticed in gut health, including a more settled tummy.
Buy now £29.50, Solgar.co.uk
What to look for in a probiotic supplement
Experts recommend choosing probiotic products with at least 1 billion colony forming units (CFU) per daily dose. Research has shown some strains to be more effective than others for treating certain conditions, so it’s best to choose a probiotic that will achieve the specific effects you want through talking to a healthcare professional or researching yourself, to ensure that the product you choose is suitable for your particular needs.
What is the most effective probiotic?
Look for probiotic products that contain strains of Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces – all of which have been found to provide health benefits, from helping your gut to treating diarrhoea.
What is the best time to take probiotics?
While you can take your probiotic whenever you like, the advice suggests that it should be taken on an empty stomach so the “good” or “friendly” bacteria can make their way to the gut as fast as possible, and at least 30 minutes before food. With this in mind, it’s probably best to take your supplement first thing in the morning, half an hour before breakfast. It is important to stay consistent with the time in which you take it so you can really see the benefits.
The verdict: Prebiotic and probiotic supplements
We’ve long been fans of Garden of Life’s raw microbiome ultimate care, and for good reason. We love that the ingredients haven’t been heat processed, and we always notice improvements in our gut health when we take it regularly.
We’d also recommend Biomel complete gut to those people who prefer a drink over capsules, and for children, we were impressed with how quickly Wild Nutrition child’s multi-strain biotic helped our young tester overcome constipation for a happier tummy.
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