Best Probiotic Supplements for Leaky Gut Based on Research and Reviews
Are you looking for the best probiotic supplements for your leaky gut?  In order to identify the best probiotic for you it is important to understand how and why probiotics may be useful and find a supplement that you can trust to be effective in terms of strength, strains, and reliability (verified by independent laboratory testing).

Have you been struggling with the symptoms of a leaky gut?  Constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, belly pain, depressed mood, poor concentration, acne, immune imbalances, weight gain… the list goes on.  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 — whatever it is that 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:

  • eating fermented foods and
  • taking an effective probiotic supplement

Here we’re 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, we’re going to answer each and every one of these questions for you!  

From a comprehensive guide to the role of probiotics in preventing and treating leaky gut, to a practical list of the top 5 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.

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

What are Probiotics?

mason jar with yogurt and blueberries on a table with pink chrysanthemums

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 before them, 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 a cozy place to live and a constant supply of food.  They keep other microorganisms we don’t know from setting up a home and provide our cells with a variety of helpful chemicals.  

It is this unique relationship built up over millions of generations that allows this specific group of probiotic microorganisms to make you healthier — they are just doing their jobs!

Learn More: Probiotics: Benefits, Dangers and Best Sources

Health Consequences of Too Few Probiotics

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 unhealthy bacterial balance can cause far more, and far more serious, issues as well.  Some of these include:

Yeast Infections

Even though the bacteria travels 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 our intestines absorb nutrients better, and also help to 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 of these digestion-boosting buddies in your gut, IBS symptoms may creep up on you.

Weight Gain

Some strains of bacteria can help stop absorption of some of the fat we consume, helping to prevent 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?

a woman in pain laying on a bed

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 these microorganisms we’ve been talking so much about live.

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

Stress, our diet, toxins, medicines, and illness-causing bacteria can all damage to our gut bacteria population and to intestinal lining, causing something called dysbiosis.  The bacteria in our gut are no longer as effective as they should be to keep the bad guys away, and damage is done to the lining of each individual cell.  When the cell lining breaks down, so do the tight junctions between cells.

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 (technically known as increased intestinal permeability or hyperpermeability) allows microscopic particles from the intestine to the rest of your body, making you sick.

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

How Do I Know If I Have Leaky Gut?

While there isn’t a specific test to determine if you have a leaky gut, if you have certain a 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, gas or 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 conditions such as depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD, and autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac disease or Crohn’s, you are more susceptible to leaky gut than the rest of the population.

Why Use Probiotic Supplements as a Leaky Gut Cure?

Probiotic supplements contain purified, living strains of natural gut microorganisms.  They are the exact bacteria that should be living in your gut naturally and helping your microvilli do their jobs!   

The theory is that, by taking these supplements, you can actually establish new colonies of these helpful microorganisms directly in your intestine.  Once established, they can grow, replenish the declining populations, replace illness-causing bacteria, restore a healthy balance, and reverse the underlying gut bacterial imbalance entirely.  

With the imbalance 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?

a woman enjoying a healthy meal

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 which probiotic supplement you should 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 strains and supplement formulations that have been directly tested in humans for treating 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.  

Then, you can scrutinize that handful in detail to narrow it down even further, to just the best of the probiotics on the market!  Which is exactly what we’ve done for you here!

Choosing the Best Probiotic 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.

We have determined the best probiotic supplements based on these three characteristics:

  • potency
  • efficacy
  • guaranteed viability verified by an independent lab

Too much information?  Don’t worry, we will briefly explain each of them.

Potency

Potency is a fancy word for strength.  Probiotic strength is measured by Colony Forming Units (CFUs) 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.

Doses on the lower end are great if you are taking probiotics as part of your daily supplement regimen.  Those that contain over 100 billion CFUs should only be used if prescribed by a doctor.

Efficacy

Efficacy basically means that the probiotics do what they are supposed to do.  There are several ways to evaluate this.

First – teamwork!  In general, probiotics work better when they contain more than one strain in their formulation.  Studies show that in 3 out of 4 cases, single-strain antibiotics are not as effective as two or more antibiotics working together.  Researchers aren’t exactly sure why this is the case, but two theories suggest certain strains have synergistic relationships, or they increase the chances of at least one of the strains successfully forming a colony in your intestines.

There are, however, some exceptions.  Some super efficacious strains do very well when working alone, even at lower doses.

Second — scientifically proven teamwork!  A probiotic supplement gets much higher points if there is research to support that the exact combination of strains included in the supplement actually work together well.

a man choosing a product from a wall of coolers in a supermarket

Independent Lab Verification

When supplement companies test their own products, there is a chance the results could be skewed to reflect favorable outcomes.  For example, they could list the CFUs at the production date, rather than at the expiration date when there’s a chance you are still taking them.

That is why we look to independent labs, like Consumerlab or Labdoor, to test products for us, as well.  These companies and organizations are dedicated to testing supplements and products and comparing their results to company product claims.

All of the products on our top 5 best probiotic supplements for leaky gut have third-party lab results that can verify their claims about content and purity.

Here, we primarily cite the reviews by Labdoor, because anyone can access the results summary for free.

Bonus:

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

So, without further ado, our top 5 best probiotic supplements for curing a leaky gut!  Let’s take a closer look at these products that topped our list, starting with the one that ranked lowest across our evaluation criteria and working our way down!

5. BioGaia Gastrus Chewable Tablets

Gastrus chewable tablets from BioGaia start off our 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.

There is ever growing evidence from multiple lines of study (cells, animals, human models) that show L. reuteri species are effective at treating dysbiosis.  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.

Biogaia Gastrus 30 Chewable TabletsAmazon Button

Customer Reviews

The majority of customers who bought Gastrus reported it helped them and 66% 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 and acid reflux.  A couple of people also reported improved 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, and fatigue.  A couple of reviews also mentioned the relatively high price as a negative.  

Independent Testing

This product last on our list primarily because, while it was briefly reviewed by ConsumerLab as a top probiotic option and confirmed its purity and composition, the report focused on how it is mostly beneficial for mouth-related diseases, rather than digestive-related issues.  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

Number four on our list is Align Probiotic Supplement.  Align contains a patented strain of  bacteria called Bifidobacterium infantis 35624.  In clinical studies using dosages between 100 million to 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.

B. infantis 35624 is a patented strain, which means it was developed specifically for the purposes of relieving leaky-gut associated bowel problems.

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 does contain milk.  If you are allergic to milk or adhere to a vegan lifestyle for ethical reasons, this product may not be for you.

Align Probiotic Supplement

Amazon Button

Customer Reviews

Align has excellent user satisfaction.  A whopping 92% 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 mention 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 8% 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 – it unfortunately doesn’t describe the ingredient 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

Coming in third in our list Florastor.  Florastor contains a different patented probiotic fungal strain called Saccharomyces boulardii lyo CNCM I-745, which, like the previous probiotic, is patented.  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.

BioCodex Florastor Maximum Strength Daily Probiotic

Amazon Button

Customer Reviews

Though not quite as well-reviewed as Align, Florastor users were still overwhelmingly happy with the product.  Of the more than 670 reviews on Amazon, 82% gave the product a full 5-stars and an additional 11% 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 the Florastor a 92.9%, scoring 100% for projected efficacy, product purity, and nutritional value, and 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; needless to say, 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 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 the most affordable of the probiotics 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.  

Culturelle Daily Probiotic Formula

Amazon Button

Customer Reviews

This supplement only makes the number 2 spot, rather than our number 1 spot, because it has lower customer satisfaction than expected.  Only 72% of customers gave the product a 5-star rating on Amazon, though an additional 19% gave it 4-stars.  Most reviews seemed fairly blasé about the product, with many simply indicating that 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

Our number 1 choice for best probiotic is TrueNature Digestive Probiotic.  TrueNature contains 10 billion CFU between three strains of probiotics: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG that work together to alleviate digestive-related issues.

L. acidophilus is one of the most studied probiotics out there, and is widely implemented in probiotic formulations because of its effectiveness for a range of health issues.  It is able to survive the acidic environment of the stomach to reach the intestine, and positively restored the intestinal mucosa to alleviate diarrhea from taking 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.

Amazon Button

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

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

Customer Reviews

Amazon reviewers gave this product a 4.5 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!

TrueNature Digestive Probiotic is the first on our top 5 probiotics list because it hits all of the checkboxes.  It contains between 1 and 100 billion CFU, contains multiple strain probiotics including a patented strain, 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.

Did you find this practical list helpful?
SUBSCRIBE to the site to make sure you never miss out on helpful reviews of health and nutrition products! Also, leave us a comment if this review helped you!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here