Thyroid UK
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Probiotic advice please

I have read that it is a good idea to take a probiotic to improve the health of your gut.

I take Actimel, which I quite like, but it's not very practical. We either run out and have none till we go shopping, or we forget and it goes out of date!! It's also probably not very economical.

I think a tablet is going to be more practical, but they all seem to have a different 'friendly bacteria'.

Is there a way to tell which ones are good, or would anyone like to recommend one.


18 Replies

Pre-bacteria: Live !

Kefir is the real biz. Full of LIVE lactobacilli and also with vits/mins.You have to grow yourself [a plus] and will help protect against opportunistic bacteria and improve gut health overall. Can be mixed with whey for added protein.


Yep! Kefir is the way to go! If you look on line there's a free share site where someone local to you will send you some to get you started.


Hi sorry to jump in here but I have probiotics tablet form anyone know when they can be taken after meds?


Sorry, not sure about meds - probiotics can be taken on an empty stomach for boosting gut, or can be taken with food to help digestion with some benefit for gut. I guess it might depend on how long it takes to absorb are pretty helpful, you could email/tel their helpline maybe.


I don't think Actimel is a good choice, it contains lots of sugar and also artificial sweeteners. If you don't want to make kefir, try one of the Optibac varieties - just capsules so easy to take. You can get them from Nutricentre, so if you are member of ThyroidUK, you can use your discount code.


Discount code?? Please tell us more.


If you join Thyroid UK, you get an information pack which includes a discount card with a code you can use for Nutricentre. Here is the link.

Carolyn x


Hi, Carnation! Kefir is good - have been meaning to start some, but am off dairy at present, and am unsure about water kefir - sugar fed, possibly needs renewing more often.

Fermented veg are also very good - see Mercola sit and GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome?) web site, and have trillions as opposed to millions (lesser quality caps) or billions (better quality caps) - these can apparently be done very easily and again have been meaning to get round to it, but thyroid issues dominating at present.

Live yogurt (can be homemade) is also fair, possibly less bacteria than kefir.

Kombucha is a fermented tea, made from a starter, has acetic acid bacteria + others? + yeasts. Wiki warns to take care with the production process... again not yet tried it, would try others first.

My comment would be that these are mainly lactobacillii, as I understand it, and there are many other types of probiotics in the gut. I have a shortage of the bifido, and Arise and Shine gut cleanse also like the bifido as they do not make the gut so acidic - lacto are apparently acidic in operation - lactic acid I think - think sour yogurt. They are good for the gut, but other non acidic bacteria can balance things off.

Last but not least, to get a good spread of bacteria, esp bifido, it would seem the only way at present is through probiotic pills. I take CP1 from the ( which have a large proportion of bifido, and have a very high count, and I was told have about 75 billion per cap (50 billion on label, but this is the minimum to allow for end of life count still being 50billion) and a pure Kirkman bifido cap from Nutri Centre on the advice of a nutritionist. I do not know at present if there is any way to ferment this kind of balanced probiotic - any suggestions?


I don't know much about kefir but isn't it a prebiotic as opposed to a probiotic and aren't prebiotics like kefir better than probiotics? Or have I oversimplified things?

This isn't something I have really looked into. I suppose I ought to really!


Good question, CarolynB - I had heard it was a probiotic, but you made me rethink a bit.

A probiotic is something containing live bacteria good for the gut.

A prebiotic is a food for the probiotic bacteria - some probiotics contain FOS (fructooligosaccharides I think) which acts as a prebiotic food for the probiotics!

Kefir is a symbiosis of bacteria and yeast, which originally grew in milk in leather skins. It has grains that clump together a bit like a cauliflower, they say. It grows in the milk, alters the milk structure, and the milky drink is drained off, the grains washed, and put in more milk to make some more.

See Pic:

My mum's dutch pen friend gave mum some way back, and she kept it going for a good while when we were kids. Tasted sourer than yogurt, and much thinner. Had a hasty look on the web, and it seems you can just put the grains in the milk. I am fairly sure mum did it like yogurt - heating to sterilise the milk before cooling, and putting the grains in. This would ensure nothing else grew, but might destroy good things in the milk.

The question arises, if the bacteria are in the grains, do they also get in the "waste" product, which is what we drink? It would look like they do, but I would like to see a measurement somewhere of quantities. It does make sense that a fair few would be caught up in the milky liquid. One site selling both kefir drink and grains has the following:

"Nourish Kefir is a 100% natural probiotic milk drink, containing many living probiotic cultures, including some that are unique to kefir! The probiotics in kefir are a natural infusion from fermenting the milk with the kefir grains.... the milk is naturally transformed. The probiotics are not added as a supplement, and they really work. I January 2011 we sent samples of our natural kefir drink to the Eclipse Scientific laboratories to count how many probiotic bacteria were in our drinks. We are very pleased with the result of around 2.5billion bacteria per 100ml. See our testimonials page to find out what others think of it.

People often ask is Nourish Kefir the same as the small probiotic shots?- NO ! kefir is much more...

As well as being probiotic, Nourish Kefir is a 'nourishing' and highly nutritious drink, providing essential vitamins and minerals, that are easy to digest and absorb in the body. With protein and fats for energy and enzymes that encourage the metabolism to work more efficiently and improve digestion of other foods. Drinking kefir can also help reduce the effect of food intolerances by suppressing the IgE antibodies that cause the allergic type reactions to certain foods.

Kefir is a living food containing different bacteria, yeasts and enzymes. The quantities of relevant microorganisms in kefir make it a natural probiotic food. Kefir contains between ten to thiry different type of probiotic bacteria, including some of the following:

Bifido bacterium - bifidokefir, Lactobacilli - Lb. Kefir, Lb. Fermentum, Lb.Reuteri, Lb. Acidophilus, Lb. Casei, Lb. Brevis, Lb.Buchneri"

NB They claim it has 2.5 billion per 100ml (for comparison my probiotic capsule has 75 billion, tested for being live and viable), but it does also have other good things to help, which the pills do not. They also say it has bifido, which I will be questioning them on, as it is the first I have come across that.

Other sites:

Wiki: "The health benefits of kefir as a probiotic drink have recently been popularized in North America, Australia, and the United Kingdom, and kefir can be found in pasteurized form in many stores and supermarkets". - although the pasteurisation would kill any bacteria.

Wiki again: " Research has shown, however, that lactose maldigestors are able to tolerate kefir, providing the number of live bacteria present in this beverage consumed is high enough. It is believed that the bacteria in the kefir or yogurt matrix are protected by the buffering effect of the yogurt. It has also been shown that fermented milk products have a slower transit time than milk, which may further improve lactose digestion[8]" - says bacteria present in the beverage - so must actually contain bacteria.

The above imperfectlynatural site says kefir probiotics are stronger than others, and will permanently populate the gut. I would like to see this verified, as what I have seen on probiotics, including a book by an expert, says probiotics are pretty well transient, staying for a matter of weeks, and only help the ones we already have to increase. I have looked for a colonising probiotic and not found one yet, one supplier made claims, but the manufacturer refused to confirm.

If Kefir are colonising, then they may well be a better method of taking probiotics. However, they are only lacticacid bacteria, and would still not give the bifidos.

It does seem to have a big strengthening effect on the gut, and this is making me take it more seriously. Thanks for the question! I am off milk, but kefir is said to be much more digestible than plain milk, so I hope to give it a go when other issues like thyroid tests have eased off.

How to make:

This is a kefir specialist site - I think I have come across it before, and not yet got around to it, recently because I am off milk - nutritionist!

Sounds like you do not need to heat it - the bacteria and their byproducts act as a preservative, but it needs stirring.

So it looks a lot better than I realised. Another good product I am hoping to get on to is fermented veg (see Gut and Psychology Syndrome site).

Hope this is useful.



Wow! Thanks for all the info! So kefir seems to be both a probiotic but with prebiotic qualities. Best of both worlds :) I think I should get some of this kefir.

Carolyn x


That is what I have been thinking, and your question has made me more convinced - am hoping to try some once tests have been done. I have been off dairy, and so put it off, but it seems the kefir is much less of a problem - and I did not think milk caused me much of a problem anyway.


Whatever you choose, choose a good quality one, either three for two offers at well known high street chemist or buy one get one half price at another well known high street shop, specializing in buy one and another half price. Howevrer be aware that whatever you choose, keep it in the fridge to keep it's active potency. I buy separate ones for travel, which come in their own little foil bubble... the drinks, I think are not great as they are not that strong and loaded with sugars/sweeteners. My whole family take them... you will find that if you encounter a sickness bug, you will either not be sick, or... have it more mildly, they do give you a bit of oooooomph! Mary F x


From this excellent site

You can make kefir with nut milks, and nut kefir is delicious.

However the nut milk destroys the kefir grains, so you can only make it when you have got some spare grains.

[ie: It won't 'grow on' as is usual -with 10% added to new milk]


I take a probiotic called yakult, I like it because it`s lower in calories than most other probiotics, & hopefully will protect me from stomach bugs this winter.


Thank you very much for all your answers.

Not sure that I can cope with Kefir at the moment as too much going on at work and I am exhausted. But I will look into it. Meanwhile I will look at Nutricentre (and try to find my discount card. Oh to have a memory) and the other suggested places.

Sorry to not reply sooner but my nice new laptop is sick, have had to borrow hubby's!!


Hi Carnation, I can recommend Udo's Super 8's, very potent! I suffered poor digestion, bloating, food sensitivity... especially excellent for sinus issues too! They are 3x more powerful than drinks also no sugar which is the culprit in the first place! They are pricey but have billions of bacteria with 8 different strains. Well worth considering, I couldn't function without them. Sauerkraut is also a good organic option, but be careful it has no sugar, if buying shop bought.


I found that taking Mycopryl 680 by Biocare was extremely helpful, as caprylic acid is supposed to encourage the growth of lactic acid bacteria in the gut. I felt SO much better on it... although it is commonly taken to kill off candida. I only discovered in the last year that I am lactose intolerant, and I am just over fifty! I think it does so much more than kill candida, so I took it continually at quite a high dose for quite a while... my bloating went down, I lost weight and I had more energy. I have also found that eating organic sauerkraut, from the healthstore, made by Bionia, I think, works so much better than any probiotic for gut bacteria issues, and is good for constipation too.


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