How to Choose the Best Gluten-Free Probiotics for You

Woman with probiotic pill in hand
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If you have digestive issues, it wouldn't be unusual for you to try supplements such as probiotics—advertised to regulate digestion—for help. And so, it's unsurprising that many people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity look for gluten-free probiotics to help aid their digestive systems.

Not all probiotics are gluten-free (although most are) and some may contain dairy (an issue if you're also sensitive to the lactose and/or casein found in dairy products).

Choosing a Probiotic

Generally speaking, the best probiotics share several characteristics.

It's common to look for products that have high numbers of colony-forming units (CFUs), though the National Institutes of Health states that higher CFUs do not necessarily equate to enhanced health benefits. In addition, check manufacturing and expiration dates. Probiotics begin to lose their potency when they leave the factory.

Some probiotics need to be refrigerated while others are "shelf-stable," something you may want to consider if you travel frequently (and don't want to lug a cooler around just for your probiotics). Some probiotic formulas also contain prebiotics, which are non-digestible oligosaccharides (long chains of carbohydrates) that feed specific groups of probiotics.

For instance, galacto-oligosacharrides (GOS), increase bifidobacterium and lactobacilli, which increases the production butyrate acid, a short chain fatty acid that fuels intestinal cells, keeping them healthy.

Can probiotics improve intestinal damage from celiac disease or assist with gluten digestion? Here's what the research says.

Research that's been done on probiotics in celiac disease has found certain strains can modify the inflammatory immune response.

For instance, in one study Bifidobacterium breve BR03 and B. breve B632 reduced an inflammatory response in children with celiac disease (who followed a gluten-free diet). When the treatment stopped, the inflammatory reaction returned.

Interestingly, individuals with celiac disease have been found to have lower levels of Bifidobacterium strains than non-celiac controls, which are beneficial for intestinal health since they colonize intestinal mucous to help reduce inflammatory responses.

And Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG has shown to restore intestinal barrier integrity following gluten-induced permeability, which benefits individuals with gluten sensitivity as well as during cases of accidental gluten ingestion for those with celiac disease.

Look for a high-quality probiotic that combines multiple probiotic strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

Which Gluten-Free Probiotics Are Available?

Here's a list of probiotics products that are considered to be gluten-free by their manufacturers. It's not a comprehensive list since there are dozens of different probiotics products on the market, but it should provide you with a starting point in your gluten-free probiotics quest.

Available gluten-free probiotics, in alphabetical order:

  • Align: Manufactured by Procter & Gamble (P&G), this probiotic, marketed as "24/7 digestive support," contains a strain of Bifidobacterium infantis, which has been studied in people with celiac disease. It's available in several different formulations: regular, chewables for adults (strawberry banana flavor), extra strength (five times the CFU in the other formulations), a sleep aid with melatonin, a de-stress formula with ashwagandha available in capsules and gummies, an antibiotic resistance formula, and flavored probiotic gummies for kids. According to the company's website, Align has been scientifically tested and is gluten-free. The product does contain milk and sodium caseinate (milk protein) and is not guaranteed to be 100 percent soy-free. Align does not require refrigeration and has a 24-month shelf life.
  • CeliAct Gluten-Free Diet Support: While this isn't marketed strictly as a probiotic—it contains a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, and is more of a multivitamin—it also contains 2 billion CFUs of Bacillus Coagulans for digestive support. The product is free of gluten, dairy, casein, and soy. This supplement should be stored "in a cool, dry place," but does not require refrigeration.
  • Country Life Dairy-Free Power-Dophilus: This probiotic by Country Life—a vitamin manufacturer that is certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Association—contains a total of 12 billion CFUs of probiotics at the time of manufacture, with four different strains (including Lactobacillus acidophilus). It's dairy-free in addition to being gluten-free, contains no yeast or soy, and is certified vegan.
  • Culturelle Digestive Health: This product comes in both capsules and in an orange-flavored chewable form, which would help if you (or a family member) have trouble swallowing pills. It's also available in an extra strength formulation and a formula specified for women's health. Regular Culturelle contains 10 Billion CFUs of Lactobacillus GG plus inulin, a prebiotic carbohydrate. Culturelle is marketed as "allergy friendly." The product is gluten-free and dairy-free, though according to the company Culturelle probiotics are produced in a facility that also handles dairy ingredients. The product should be stored in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.
  • Florastor Probiotics: Florastor probiotics, which come in adult and kids versions, actually contain a form of yeast known as Saccharomyces boulardii lyo. This "friendly" yeast works to displace less friendly microbes from your digestive tract. Florastor products are considered gluten-free and vegetarian, and are available in capsules, sticks, and sachets. They contain about 33mg of lactose and may contain traces of soy. The product is free of other major allergens. Florastor should not be refrigerated after opening.
  • Kirkman Labs Pro-Bio Gold Hypoallergenic: Kirkman is well-known for making allergen-free formulas, particularly for children who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This product requires refrigeration and contains 20 billion CFUs with six different strains of probiotics, including Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum. It's free of all major allergens, including gluten, corn, egg, soy, casein, and yeast.

A Word from Verywell

Obviously, this is only a small sampling of the probiotics available in your local health food store or online—these products made the list because they're safely gluten-free (and free of other allergens in many cases) and because they have good reputations in the alternative healthcare community.

In taking probiotics, some people stick with one product, while others swear by rotating brands and microbes—with the idea being to build up a diverse population of intestinal microflora. But ultimately, you'll need to decide—in consultation with your doctor—what type and combination of probiotics might work best for your specific health situation.

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