How To Choose The Best Friendly Bacteria Supplement

Confused about which are the best UK friendly bacteria supplements? We can help you to decide.

If you've never heard of friendly bacteria before, all you need to know is that they are completely natural, and you should have trillions of them living in your gut! Collectively these populations of bacteria are known as the gut microbiome. But science is revealing more and more about these tiny passengers and how they interact with our bodies. Some of the most important revelations are that different types of bacteria do different things, and that it's very easy for the balance in the gut microbiome to be disrupted. Not all of the bacteria in the gut are 'good', and we need to keep the baddies in their place! This is why many people like to take a friendly bacteria supplement.  But which one should you choose?

Microbiologist, Dr. Kate Stephens, and gut health expert, Nutritional Therapist Kerry Beeson, answer the Top 5 Questions our Nutrition Team are asked by confused customers. Let us help you to choose the perfect friendly bacteria supplement for your needs:

  1. Single strains can be better than multi-strains
  2. Sometimes a low billions count can be better 
  3. Capsules, powders, and gummies are just as effective as liquid supplements
  4. Choose the friendly bacteria supplement that is right for your individual needs
  5. It’s important to choose a trusted, expert brand 

Jump straight to the end if you have a question that's not answered here or are just not sure where to start?

1. Single strains can be better than multi-strains

It’s quality not quantity that matters when choosing a live cultures supplement. You don’t need to keep switching brands to try lots of different products or choose multi-strain supplements containing large numbers of different bacteria. Many renowned strains of live cultures, such as Bifidobacteria lactis BB-12® or Saccharomyces boulardii,1,2, are typically researched alone. So just choose a supplement containing quality strains, which are proven to reach the gut or vaginal flora and are researched in areas which support your personal needs. If you buy from expert companies, the strains will always be shown on the packaging, not just the species, so you can make an informed choice.

probiotic strain

2. Sometimes a low billions count can be better 

In the same way that you don’t need to look for supplements with lots of strains, you don’t always need one with a high number of billions. You will pay more for these high-strength supplements, and you may not need all those extra billions1! Live cultures specialists use the same number of billions used in the supporting clinical trials, so you never pay for more than you need. It’s better to choose a supplement containing high quality strains researched for your individual needs rather than a generic high-strength formula. 

3. Capsules, powders, and gummies are just as effective as liquid supplements

Live cultures supplements come in capsules, sachets, liquids, and gummies, which can be very confusing! Many people think that liquid supplements are absorbed better or reach the gut more quickly. But this is not the case - if you choose a high-quality, well-researched supplement, you can be confident that the friendly bacteria strains are tested to reach the gut3, whether they're in capsules, liquids, or any other format. Friendly bacteria specialists only use highly researched live cultures, so you can opt for the format which suits you best, safe in the knowledge that they're all equally effective.

4. Choose the friendly bacteria supplement that is right for your individual needs

Not all friendly bacteria strains have the same properties3,11, so it’s important to choose a supplement containing strains researched for your individual requirements. Friendly bacteria specialists always include the strain names in the ingredients. Once you know the strain name, you can see what it’s been researched for, and choose the best live cultures for your needs. For example:

  • Best for general digestive support: the Every Day supplement contains strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria naturally found in the digestive tract, and proven in over 20 years of research to reach the gut alive3. This is one of the best friendly bacteria supplements for every day use.
  • Best for babies: Bifidobacterium breve M-16V® has been widely researched in babies4 – find this strain in Baby Drops
  • Best for children: The strain in Kids Gummies, Bacillus coagulans Unique IS-2, is one of the one of the most researched strains of Bacillus in children5,6,7
  • Best for pregnancy: The strains in Pregnancy,  such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN0018, have been widely researched in pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • When taking antibiotics: Lactobacillus rhamnosus Rosell-11 and Lactobacillus acidophilus/helveticus Rosell-52 have been used in clinical trials alongside antibiotics9 – find these strains in For Those On Antibiotics
  • Best for the vaginal flora: Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1® and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14® are proven to reach the vaginal flora10 – find these strains in For Women

For free advice about how to use the rest of our range, contact our Nutrition Team.

5. It’s important to choose a trusted, expert brand

With so many different options available in the UK, deciding which is the best friendly bacteria supplement can be very confusing. Ideally, look for a trusted specialist brand with products backed by sound science. At Optibac we have decades of experience and specialise only in live cultures supplements, which is probably why we're the UK's most recommended friendly bacteria brand+. We always use strains backed by credible science and prioritise natural ingredients, and we think ours is one of the best ranges of UK friendly bacteria supplements available!

Take a look for yourself - find the ideal friendly bacteria supplement for all the family in our UK Shop.

Still not sure where to start? 

If you’re still confused about which is the best friendly bacteria supplement for you, then watch this video with our Nutritional Therapist Camilla Gray on which Optibac to start with.

Alternatively, if you need further guidance, contact our team of experts for free advice.


  1. Eskesen et al. (2015) Effect of the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB-12®, on defecation frequency in healthy subjects with low defecation frequency and abdominal discomfort: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group trial. Br J Nutr; 114, 10: 1638-46.

  2. McFarland (2010) Systematic review and meta-analysis of Saccharomyces boulardii in adult patients. World J Gastroenterol; 16, 18: 2202-22
  3. Nagulesapillai, V. et al (2015) Detection and quantification of strain specific probiotics in clinical faecal samples of healthy adults on antibiotic treatment by quantitative PCR.
  4. Patole et al. (2014). Effect of Bifidobacterium breve M-16V® supplementation on faecal Bifidobacteria in preterm neonates- a randomised double blind placebo controlled trial . PLoS one, 9 (3): e89511.
  5. Saneian, H. et al. (2015) ‘Synbiotic containing Bacillus coagulans and fructo-oligosaccharides for functional abdominal pain in children’, Gastroenterol Hepatol Bed Bench, 8(1), pp. 56–65.
  6. Sudha, M. and Arunasree, K. (2015) ‘ANTI-INFLAMMATORY AND IMMUNOMODULATORY EFFECTS OF BACILLUS COAGULANS UNIQUE IS2’, International Journal of Probiotics & Prebiotics, 10(1), pp. 31–36.
  7. Sudha, M. R. et al. (2018) ‘Efficacy of Bacillus coagulans Unique IS2 in treatment of irritable bowel syndrome in children: a double blind, randomised placebo-controlled study’, Beneficial Microbes, 9(4), pp. 563–572. doi: 10.3920/BM2017.0129.
  8. Slykerman R et al. (2017). Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 in pregnancy on postpartum symptoms of depression and anxiety: a randomised double blind placebo controlled trial . EBioMedicine, 24, 159-165.
  9. Evans M. et al., (2016), ‘Effectiveness of Lactobacillus helveticus and Lactobacillus rhamnosus for the management of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea in healthy adults: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial’. British Journal of Nutrition, 116(1):94-103. doi: 10.1017/S0007114516001665. Epub 2016 May 12.
  10. Morelli L. et al., (2004), ‘Utilization of the intestinal tract as a delivery system for urogenital probiotics’. J. Clin. Gastroenterol., 38(6 Suppl): S107-10.
  11. NHS: (2018). Probiotics.[Online] [Accessed 1st September 2022]