Diarrhea — defined as three loose stools a day— is an unpleasant but all-too-common ailment that can result from a wide range of conditions, including viral and bacterial infections, food intolerances, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and even as a side effect of certain medications. When it happens, taking the best probiotics for diarrhea can help treat your stomach afflictions by reestablishing a normal balance of bacteria in your intestines.
According to Dr. Sari Eitches, an LA-based, board-certified doctor of internal medicine, people who’ve recently experienced diarrhea might benefit from taking probiotics.
"Probiotics can help restore the balance of the diverse microbiome that can get wiped out during a diarrheal illness," she told Bustle in an email.
Specifically, she recommends taking a probiotic that contains the probiotic yeast Saccharomyces boulardii because it has been clinically proven to treat diarrhea — in particular, it can reduce the frequency and duration of the ailment. "For prolonged diarrheal illness, I also recommend adding a multi-strain probiotic which will help repopulate the gut.”
In terms of what other strains to look for, Dr. Eitches recommends Lactobacillus, which “can help protect the microbiome and its diversity."
In addition, Dr. Eitches says that a probiotic should ideally have a minimum of two to 10 strains and at least 10 to 50 billion CFUs (colony forming units) per serving.
One thing to note: You should always check with your health care provider before adding a supplement to your diet, but it's especially important to talk to your doctor before you start taking a probiotic if you're pregnant or have a serious health condition. Also, if you have food allergies, pay attention to the bottle's labeling to make sure it doesn't contain any allergens that may affect you.
Keep scrolling for more details on the best probiotics for diarrhea you can buy.
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1. The Overall Best Probiotic For Diarrhea
Containing a diverse blend of 13 strains of probiotics, this Vitamin Bounty Pro-25 probiotic packs a lot into a single delayed-release capsule. It includes the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii, as well as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium — the latter of which is believed to also help relieve bloating.
It also contains fermented greens including alfalfa, oat grass, barley, grass, and wheatgrass. Studies show that fermented foods may benefit overall gut health and lessen the severity of diarrhea. This formula also has a 25 billion CFU concentration and is shelf-stable, so it does not need to be refrigerated. Note: These pills may contain wheat, milk, or soy as they manufactured in a plant that processes other related products.
Helpful review: “I recently went to Africa to serve for a month in a very rural area. As recommended by a travel physician, I began taking these probiotics roughly two weeks prior to leaving the country and daily the entire time I was gone. Keep in mind, I have a very delicate stomach, GI, and sensitivity issues, but not once while I was gone did I experience a single issue. I HIGHLY recommend this product for anyone traveling or even staying local but looking for a strong probiotic option."
2. The Runner-Up
While this Physician's Choice probiotic may not contain Saccharomyces boulardii, it has an especially potent concentration of 60 billion CFUs and boasts 10 probiotic strains — including six different strains of Lactobacillus — and a mix of prebiotic fibers. This has made it one of the most popular probiotics on Amazon with over 10,000 reviews and an average star rating of 4.6 stars. Plus, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated and is free from common allergens like soy, gluten, dairy, and preservatives.
Helpful review: “I had been having daily diarrhea for weeks, and my doctor was baffled as to why. I had been taking a different probiotic but switched to Physician's Choice and immediately began to see improvement. My situation has stabilized, and I plan to continue taking these probiotics daily."
3. The Best Liquid Probiotic
For people who would rather not swallow pills, this MaryRuth Organics liquid probiotic comes in an unflavored liquid form that can be taken by itself or added to a beverage. It contains 12 probiotic strains, including five Lactobacillus ones. In addition, it's vegan, non-GMO, USDA-certified organic, and free of sugar, dairy, gluten, and soy. It also does not need to be refrigerated.
Note: This 100% raw, plant-based liquid is sourced from a blend of three types of grasses, so if you have any allergies, you should be cautious and consult a healthcare provider before taking this.
Helpful review: “I have had terrible digestive issues ever since having my gallbladder removed in 2017. After just a few days of trying this product, I am finally back to my normal self! It tastes great. I also love that it is in liquid form, as I hate taking pills.”
Billoo, A. G., Memon, M. A., Khaskheli, S. A., Murtaza, G., Iqbal, K., Saeed Shekhani, M., & Siddiqi, A. Q. (2006). Role of a probiotic (Saccharomyces boulardii) in management and prevention of diarrhoea. World journal of gastroenterology, 12(28), 4557–4560. https://doi.org/10.3748/wjg.v12.i28.4557
Melini, F., Melini, V., Luziatelli, F., Ficca, A. G., & Ruzzi, M. (2019). Health-Promoting Components in Fermented Foods: An Up-to-Date Systematic Review. Nutrients, 11(5), 1189. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11051189