Best Probiotic Supplements for Leaky Gut

From a comprehensive guide to the role of probiotics in preventing and treating leaky gut, to a practical list of the top 5 best probiotic supplements for treating leaky gut available on the market, everything you need to know about probiotics and your gut health you’ll find right here.

Last Updated: July 12, 2019

Leaky gut can make your life absolutely miserable.  Anyone can totally understand why you’ve been on the lookout — or maybe even the hunt — for something, anything, to make you feel better.

Of course, the best way to make yourself feel better is to address the underlying cause. You have to figure out what is making your gut leaky in the first place!  

Luckily, researchers have identified many of the things that can cause a leaky gut (called increased intestinal permeability in scientific circles), and by far the biggest culprit is an imbalance in gut bacteria.  

So, how do you rebalance your gut bacteria?  There are two main ways:

  • eat fermented foods and
  • take an effective probiotic supplement

Here I’m going to focus on the second of these two options because there is just so much here to discuss!

What are probiotic supplements, exactly?  How are they supposed to work?  Is there real, scientific evidence that they do work?  How on Earth do you choose which probiotic to buy?  Does it even matter which one you buy?

In this article, I’m going to answer each and every one of these questions for you!  

Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links.  Click here for details.

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are all the bacteria that are able to make you healthier by growing in or on you. 

Really!  It seems odd, but some microorganisms are actually able to make you healthy when you’re infected with them, rather than make you sick.  

What makes these microorganisms different from the little buggers that give you pneumonia and sinus infections?  You grew up with them.

The Origin of Probiotics

Soon after you were born, bacteria started finding a home on your skin, in your mouth, and in your digestive system (among other places).  In general, from this point on, your body has been able to maintain a healthy population of beneficial (“good”) bacteria.

Almost all of the microorganisms you had growing up came from your mom, your family’s skin, and your mom’s breast milk.  

And your mom and family got these same strains of bacteria the exact same way when they were born. And their families got them before your parents. And so on and so forth, as far back as we can go.  

(Of course, just like your DNA came from your family but your DNA is unique to you, the exact mixture of bacteria you get is slightly different than everyone else’s, too!  But, for the most part, your bacteria are very close to your family’s!)

What this passing on of bacteria from parents to babies means is that humans and these microorganisms have had a good long time (you know, few million years) to get to know each other.  In that time, we’ve worked out a pretty neat deal.

Our bodies provide the bacteria with a cozy place to live and a constant supply of food. In return, the bacteria keep other microorganisms we don’t know from setting up a home and provide our cells with a variety of helpful chemicals.  

This unique relationship built up over millions of generations allows probiotic microorganisms to make you healthier — they are just doing their jobs!

Learn More: Probiotics: Benefits, Dangers and Best Sources

What are the Health Consequences of Too Few Probiotics?

Side Pain

Having an imbalance in gut bacteria can cause a bunch of problems for your health and wellbeing!  Most people think gut bacteria are only important for being able to go to the bathroom regularly. But an unhealthy bacterial balance can cause far more, and far more serious, issues as well. Some of these include:

  • yeast infections — even though probiotics travel through the intestines and rectum, the proximity of the end of the digestive system and the female urinary tract allows for “continuous microbial colonization”.  In other words, the good bacteria in your digestive system can pop over to the reproductive and urinary tracts and protect you from infections, there, as well.
  • diarrhea — probiotics help to keep food from stalling in the digestive system (i.e. keep you going to the bathroom regularly), but they can also keep it from moving too fast.  Bacteria help your intestines absorb nutrients better and help fight off illness-causing bacteria that cause diarrhea.  Without enough healthy bacteria in your digestive tract, you may find yourself making more frequent trips to the bathroom than you’d like.
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) irritable bowel syndrome is a condition that causes extreme discomfort after eating certain foods.  Certain bacterial strains can help you digest foods more effectively, preventing the symptoms of IBS.  If you don’t have enough digestion-boosting buddies in your gut, IBS symptoms may creep up on you.
  • weight gain — some strains of bacteria can help stop the absorption of some of the fat you consume, preventing weight gain.
  • mental health disorders — your gut bacteria play a role in the development of anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and autism spectrum disorder.  This is because the gut and the brain are connected through what is known as the “gut-brain axis”.  When things are going badly in your digestive system, it can affect your brain chemicals and your mood.
  • high cholesterol — healthy bacterial balance can help to reduce heart disease-causing LDL cholesterol and increase HDL healthy cholesterol.
  • weak immune system — When the good bacteria aren’t there to keep the bad bacteria at bay, your immune system is weakened.

And, finally, of course, too few healthy gut bacteria play a role in the development of the star of this article… Leaky Gut

What is Leaky Gut?

Leaky gut syndrome is a condition in which the walls of your intestines develop gaps or holes.  This directly affects the digestive system’s ability to process and absorb nutrients properly.

How?

Well, if we take a closer look at our digestive system we will see it is covered in little hair-like things called villi.  And these villi have even smaller hairs on them called microvilli.

These little guys help to increase the surface of the intestine so that you can absorb nutrients more effectively.  It is also on the surface of villi that probiotics make their home.

The microorganisms and the villi act as gatekeepers between your intestine and the rest of your body.  After food is digested, the nutrients from what you eat (and the molecules made from them by your good bacteria) are absorbed.

Stress, your diet, toxins, medicines, and illness-causing bacteria can all damage to your gut bacteria population and to the intestinal lining, causing something called dysbiosis.  

In dysbiosis, the bacteria in your gut are no longer as effective as they should be to keep the bad guys away and they allow damage to be done to the cells lining your intestines.  

When the cell lining breaks down, so do the tight junctions between cells. And when this happens, small channels form in the gut that allow viruses, partially digested particles, and harmful bacteria through.

In other words, your leaky gut allows microscopic particles from your intestine into the rest of your body, making you sick.

Read Next: Creating Your Leaky Gut Supplement Regimen: An Expert’s Guide

How Do You Know If You Have Leaky Gut?

If you have a specific pattern of symptoms, your doctor could move forward with treating you for increased intestinal permeability.

Some of these symptoms include:

  • chronic or consistent digestive problems including diarrhea, constipation, and bloating
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • regular infections
  • headaches and migraines
  • difficulty concentrating
  • brain fog
  • memory loss
  • feeling tired all the time
  • skin rashes and problems such as acne, eczema or rosacea
  • cravings for sugar or carbs
  • arthritis or joint pain

Additionally, if you have mental health or cognitive conditions (such as depression, anxiety, ADD, or ADHD) or autoimmune diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac disease, or Crohn’s) you are more likely to have leaky gut syndrome than the rest of the population.

Why Use Probiotic Supplements as a Leaky Gut Cure?

The best probiotic supplements contain purified, living strains of natural gut microorganisms.  They are the exact bacteria that should be living in your gut naturally!   

The theory is that, by taking these supplements, you can actually establish new colonies of helpful microorganisms directly in your intestine.  Once established, they can:

  • replenish the declining healthy populations
  • replace illness-causing bacteria
  • restore a healthy bacterial balance
  • reverse dysbiosis entirely

With your dysbiosis corrected, your intestinal cells regain their ability to form tight bonds with one another.  They can close up the holes in your intestinal wall and heal your leaky gut.

Do Probiotics Help with the Symptoms of a Leaky Gut?

Does this theory hold up in reality?  The short answer is: yes. 

Clinical studies have shown that probiotic supplementation is effective at reversing dysbiosis, closing up the holes of a leaky gut, and improving the associated symptoms.  

That is terrific news if you are suffering the awful symptoms of leaky gut syndrome!  There is some real hope for relief!

The only question remaining, then, is: how do you choose the best probiotic supplements to buy?  There are tons on the market, after all.

Luckily, research actually gives you some pretty clear guidance here.  

There have been relatively few probiotic supplements that have been directly tested in humans to treat dysbiosis. And even fewer were shown to be effective.  

Restricting yourself to supplements that contain strains and dosages that have been proven effective narrows down your choices from dozens or hundreds to just a handful.  

From this handful, you can then scrutinize down to just the best of the probiotics on the market!  Which is exactly what I’ve done for you here!

Choosing the Best Probiotic Supplements for Leaky Gut Healing

With so many different probiotic supplements available, it is important to establish a standardized way to evaluate probiotic supplements out there.

I have determined the best probiotic supplements based on these four characteristics:

  • potency — potency is a fancy word for strength.  Probiotic strength is measured in Colony Forming Units (CFUs) and is listed on the supplement bottle.  Based on the results from clinical studies, ConsumerLab recommends finding a probiotic with between 1 billion and 100 billion CFUs in order to ensure effectiveness.
  • efficacy — efficacy basically means that the probiotics do what they are supposed to do.  There are several ways to evaluate this and it varies from brand to brand.
  • independent lab verification — when supplement companies test their own products, there is a chance the results could be skewed to reflect favorable outcomes.  Independent lab verification of supplement claims ensures that you are getting the product and health benefits you’re after.
  • prebiotic content — if the supplement contains prebiotics, it gets extra credit.  Prebiotics provide food for the probiotics once it gets to your stomach.  This improves their chances of staying put.

Read: Best Prebiotic Supplements for Leaky Gut

Top 5 Best Probiotic Supplements for Curing a Leaky Gut

Let’s take a closer look at the top 5 best probiotic supplements, starting with the one that ranked lowest across my evaluation criteria and working our way down!

5. BioGaia Gastrus Chewable Tablets

Biogaia Gastrus 30 Chewable Tablets

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Gastrus chewable tablets from BioGaia start off my top 5 list.  Each tangerine-flavored tablet contains 100 million live bacteria of two different strains of Lactobacillus reuteri: ATCC PTA 6475 and DSM 17938.  

This is a low-dose probiotic, below the 1 billion recommended by consumer lab.  But that makes it a good option to promote general gut health and prevent leaky-gut related symptoms.  And the dosage corresponds to the dose of other strands of the L. reuteri family effectively used in small clinical trials in humans, suggesting higher doses aren’t necessary for these bacterial strains.

The amount of clinical data is not as strong as with the strains from the other products here.  But L. reuteri is naturally found in the healthy human gut and helps to promote microorganism evenness and diversity.

Gastrus’ packaging lists no animal products in its ingredients, suggesting it may be a good option for ethical vegetarians and vegans.  The tablets are also free of common allergens.

Customer Reviews

The majority of customers who bought Gastrus reported it helped them and 68% gave it a full 5-star review.  Many actually reported that this is the only probiotic that has worked for them.  

Specific symptoms reported improving included:

  • bowel movements
  • gas
  • acid reflux
  • anxiety

Of those who gave the product a negative review, most reported that they did not like the tangerine taste.  Some also reported side effects including:

  • worsening constipation
  • hair loss
  • dizziness
  • fatigue

A couple of reviews also mentioned the relatively high price as a negative. 

Independent Testing

This product is last on my list primarily because its ConsumerLab analysis focused on mouth-related diseases, not digestive-related ones.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t reviewed by Labdoor.

Supplement

Efficacy

Potency

Independent Lab Verification

BioGaia Gastrus

Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC PTA 6475 and

DSM 17938

Low-dose: contains 200 million CFU

Contains two strains of probiotics that naturally grow in the human intestine.

Not evaluated by Labdoor. Evaluated by ConsumerLab for non-digestive related issues.

4. Align Probiotic Supplement

Align Probiotic SupplementAmazon Button

Number four on my list is Align Probiotic Supplement.  Align contains a patented strain of  bacteria called Bifidobacterium infantis 35624.  

In clinical studies using dosages between 100 million and 10 billion live B. infantis 35624 per day, individuals suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (a condition strongly associated with a leaky gut) saw significant improvements in pain, bloating, and constipation within 1-2 months.  

The commercial brand contains 1 billion live B. infantis bacteria, falling directly in this therapeutic range.

Align comes as easy to take capsules.  It is competitively priced, falling squarely in the middle of the prices for the products listed here.

A potential downside of this supplement is that it contains milk.  If you are allergic to milk or adhere to a vegan lifestyle for ethical reasons, this product may not be for you.

Customer Reviews

Align has excellent user satisfaction.  A whopping 88% of customers who reviewed the product on Amazon gave it a 5-star rating.  

All of the positive reviews report improvement in their digestive system.  Many don’t go into detail.  But several mentions specific improvements in pain, bloating, and constipation.

One review mentions an improvement in acid reflux symptoms and another intestinal blockage problems.  A large percentage of reviews mention that this supplement was specifically recommended to them by their doctors.  Multiple reviews praised the price of the product compared to other supplements.

The 9% of reviews that gave the product less than 3-stars reported little or no improvement in their symptoms.  There were no reports of side effects or problems with the product.

Independent Testing

Labdoor gives this supplement a 90.3%, which is pretty good!  Based on independent lab results, Align Probiotic Supplement received 100% for product purity, efficacy, and nutritional value, and 82% for ingredient safety.

Where it scored low was in its label accuracy.  Unfortunately, the lable doesn’t describe the ingredients as it should.  But, it’s what’s on the inside that counts!

Supplement

Efficacy

Potency

Independent Lab Verification

Align Probiotic Supplement

1 billion CFU of Bifidobacterium infantis 35624.

 

While it only has one strain of probiotics, it is proven effective to work alone and in lower doses.

Given a 90.3% by Labdoor.

Label accuracy: 26%

Product purity: 100%

Nutritional value: 100%

Ingredient safety: 82%

Projected efficacy: 100%

3. BioCodex Florastor Maximum Strength Daily Probiotic

BioCodex Florastor Maximum Strength Daily ProbioticAmazon Button

Coming in third in my list Florastor.  Florastor contains a different patented probiotic fungal strain called Saccharomyces boulardii lyo CNCM I-745.  

Clinical studies have found S. boulardii lyo CNCM 1-745 to be effective at restoring a health balance of gut bacteria following episodes of diarrhea, especially if the episodes were caused by a bacterial infection or antibiotic use.  If your leaky gut digestive symptoms started after a stomach bug or treatment with antibiotics, this may be a good choice for you.

The individual, easy-to-swallow capsules contain 250 mg of the probiotic bacteria but the recommended dosage is 2 capsules per day.  This entire range (250-500 mg for 1-2 capsules) was found safe and effective in clinical studies.

Florastor is one of the most budget-friendly of the products on our list, coming in below all but Culturelle.

Florastor does contain lactose, so it’s inappropriate for those with severe lactose intolerance or ethical vegans.  It also contains yeast, which some people may be sensitive to.

Customer Reviews

Though not quite as well-reviewed as Align, Florastor users were still overwhelmingly happy with the product.  Of the more than 1,700 reviews on Amazon, 78% gave the product a full 5-stars and an additional 10% gave it 4.  

Most people reported significant improvements in digestive symptoms, including bloating and abdominal pain and a couple specifically mentioned improvements in irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.  A few stated that the product provided them great protection from antibiotic side effects.

Negative reviews of Florastor primarily complained that they were mistakenly charged for 100 capsules but only received 50 and one stated a problem with delivery (the package had been previously opened).  

A few reported side effects — such as stomachache, bloating, diarrhea and lethargy — while others simply experienced no improvement.

Independent Testing

Labdoor gives Florastor a 92.9%, scoring 100% for projected efficacy, product purity, and nutritional value, and a 98% for ingredient safety.  

What hurt its score most was the label, since it is basically void of information beyond the brand, strain, and product indication.  Florastor got a 0% in this category.

Supplement

Efficacy

Potency

Independent Lab Verification

Biocodex Florastor Maximum Strength Daily Probiotic

8.4 billion CFU of Saccharomyces boulardii lyo CNCM I-745.

While it only has one strain of fungal probiotics, it is proven effective to work alone.

Patented strain.

Given a 92.9% by Labdoor.

Label accuracy: 0%

Product purity: 100%

Nutritional value: 100%

Ingredient safety: 98%

Projected efficacy: 100%

2. Culturelle Daily Probiotic Formula

Culturelle Daily Probiotic FormulaAmazon Button

Culturelle capsules contain a patented bacterial strain called Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG.

Meta-analyses examining multiple studies using this probiotic found that L. rhamnosus GG is effective at helping ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, particularly in children, and moderate evidence that it may be useful in preventing diarrhea from antibiotics.  

Each capsule contains 10 billion live bacteria, which falls at the high end of the range of doses tested in clinical trials (3-10 billion).

What puts this supplement above the previous three on our list is that these bacteria come with 200 mg of inulin, a proven prebiotic.  Prebiotics are essentially “food” for the probiotics and will help the probiotics survive in the gut.

Culturelle is also the most affordable of the best probiotic supplements on our list.

This product does not contain any lactose, milk or yeast.  The ingredient list contains no animal products at all, which makes it suitable for vegans.  

Customer Reviews

This supplement only makes the number two spot, rather than number 1, because it has lower customer satisfaction than expected.  Only 80% of customers gave the product a 5-star rating on Amazon, though an additional 12% gave it 4-stars.  

Most reviews seemed fairly blasé about the product, with many saying the product just worked as intended.  Few showed extreme enthusiasm.  A few did comment on the budget-friendly price.

Those that gave the product less positive reviews just stated that other products worked better for them.  Interestingly, no review mentioned any side effects with the product at all.

Independent Testing

Culturelle received a whopping 98.1% score by Labdoor, with a perfect score for label accuracy, product purity, nutritional value, and projected efficacy.  It also received a respectable 92% for ingredient safety.

Supplement

Efficacy

Potency

Independent Lab Verification

Culturelle Daily Probiotic Formula

10 billion CFU of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG.

While it only has one strain of probiotics, it is proven effective to work alone. Patented strain.

BONUS: 200 mg of prebiotic inulin, which will help it to survive in the gut.

Given a 98.1% by Labdoor:

Label accuracy: 100%

Product purity: 100%

Nutritional value: 100%

Ingredient safety: 92%

Projected efficacy: 100%

1. TrueNature Digestive Probiotic

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Our number 1 choice for best probiotic is Trunature Digestive Probiotic. 

Trunature contains 10 billion CFU between three strains of probiotics: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG.

L. acidophilus is one of the most studied probiotics out there and is widely used in probiotic supplements because of its effectiveness for a range of health issues.  It is able to survive the acidic environment and restore the intestinal mucosa to stop diarrhea from antibiotics. 

Animal tests also indicate that L. acidophilus could help balance immune function (a key player in the development of leaky gut), since this bacterial strain is able to prevent the development of allergies.

Studies show that combining L. acidophilus and B. lactis offers yet further health benefits.  Supplementing with both bacteria can help reduce cholesterol absorption, lowering high blood cholesterol levels.  Additionally, if taken during pregnancy and shortly after birth, they may be able to prevent eczema in newborn babies.

And all of this is in addition to the benefits of L. rhamnosus GG I explored in my review of the Culturelle probiotic! 

Customer Reviews

Amazon reviewers gave this product a 4.4 out of 5 stars, 72% of which were 5-star ratings.  Almost all reviewers say it worked as it should, with only a minimum adjustment period, and commented on the great value of the product.

Independent Testing

The Labdoor report for Trunature shows that the supplement did very well in lab results — with 100% for product purity, nutritional value, and projected efficacy.  In fact, their lab results showed that it was actually more potent than the label reports, at 18 billion CFU rather than the reported 10 billion.

Trunature tested so well that Labdoor ranked it #1 in value and #3 in quality.  That combination is hard to beat!

Trunature Digestive Probiotic is the first on my top 5 probiotics list because it hits all of the checkboxes. 

It contains between 1 and 100 billion CFU, contains multiple strains of probiotics, and is verified by an independent lab with positive results.  And, as a bonus, it is well-reviewed by Amazon buyers.

Supplement

Efficacy

Potency

Independent Lab Verification

TrueNature Digestive Probiotic

10 Billion CFU of L. acidophilus,

B. lactis,

L. rhamnosus GG

.

Contains three strains of probiotics – including a patented strain.

BONUS: contains cellulose, a prebiotic fiber, which will help it to survive in the gut.

Given a 95.2% by Labdoor – ranked #1 in value and #3 in overall quality.

Label accuracy: 75%

Product purity: 100%

Nutritional value: 100%

Ingredient safety: 88%

Projected efficacy: 100%

Summary of Top 5 Probiotics for Leaky Gut

Here is a table that summarizes the Top 5 Probiotics for Leaky Gut.

 

Potency

1-100 billion CFU

Efficacy

(2+ strains)

Efficacy

(Researched)

Bonus: Contains Prebiotics

Third-Party Lab Grade

TrueNature Digestive Probiotic

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

95.2%

Culturelle Digestive Health

Yes

No

Yes

Yes  

98.1%

Florastor

Yes  

No

Yes

Yes  

92.9%

Align Probiotic Supplement

Yes

No

Yes  

No

90.3%

BioGaia

Yes

No

No

No

N/A

Take Home Message

The best probiotic supplements can help reverse dysbiosis and the miserable symptoms of a leaky gut!  

There are several clinically-proven, effective probiotic supplements available on the market that can help you recolonize your gut with natural microorganisms.  

Each product has its own unique probiotic and practical strengths and weaknesses but all of them help the majority of people who try them. 

Hopefully, this list will help you find your perfect probiotic for leaky gut healing.

Read Next: Digestive Enzymes vs Probiotics: Which One is Better for Your Digestion?

Best Probiotic Supplements for Leaky Gut Infographic

4 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts this will really help us out a lot. There are so many useful information that I needed here.

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