A pharmacist reviews the popular probiotic Bio Complete 3 – is it worth the hype?
As a practicing pharmacist, I’ve had countless conversations with patients about the benefits and pitfalls of probiotics and various supplements. Among the many products available, Bio Complete 3 developed by Dr. Gundry has garnered significant attention. In this review, I’ll share my insights based on both scientific literature and feedback from patients.
A pharmacist’s impression of Bio Complete 3
The tldr; I’ll share a summary of my review of the science behind the product.
My overall opinion is that the probiotics in the blend, Bacillus coagulans and Bifidobacterium bifidum, are well studied, and may have legitimate health benefits for otherwise healthy people. The additional, active ingredients also have some science behind them and probably help some people reduce food cravings. The main downside I see to Bio Complete 3 is the price – at close to $70 for a one month supply, it’s on the pricier side.
One caveat – I always, always tell patients to talk to their primary care doctor before starting a supplementation program. And if you are having any health issues, you really need to talk to your doctor to make sure there isn’t an underlying health problem that needs to be treated.
Ok, so that’s my high level review – let’s dig into the details.
What is Bio Complete 3 used for?
Dr. Gundry’s company says that Bio Complete 3 is a go-to dietary supplement for bolstered gut health. It ambitiously claims to support weight management, streamline digestion, amplify energy levels, and curb unhealthy cravings. That’s a pretty impressive list of possible health benefits! With a pretty unique mixture of prebiotics, probiotics, and tributyrin, it aims to offer a comprehensive solution for gut wellness.
Obviously that’s a pretty impressive list of health claims. What does science say?
Probiotics in Bio Complete 3: a deep dive on the science
As a practicing pharmacist with extensive interactions with patients regarding probiotics and dietary supplements, I’ve always emphasized the importance of understanding what you’re introducing into your body. Bio Complete 3 touts a blend of probiotics, including the commonly known Bifidobacterium bifidum UABb-10 and Bacillus coagulans (they market the second bacteria under the brand ProDura®). In a moment I’ll provide an analytical review into these bacteria and their potential effects on gut health, but first, let’s review what probiotics are – and aren’t.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that might offer potential health benefits when taken in adequate amounts. They actually are bacteria (or sometimes yeasts), and are often found in healthy fermented foods like yogurt, pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi or as dietary supplements. For some people, probiotics might play a really helpful role in maintaining a balanced intestinal flora by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria and inhibiting the growth of harmful ones.
Potential Health Benefits of Probiotics
Probiotics make some people’s gut healthier. They might assist in enhancing digestive function, reducing inflammation, boosting the immune system, and possibly alleviating symptoms of conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diarrhea. There is a decent amount of research on them as supplements, but a lot of this research has been done in small sizes. So it’s totally possible that some specific supplements might help one person but not another. But overall, you’ll find that gastrointestinologist and pharmacists often recommend probiotic supplements to people who are having minor digestive issues. Of course, talk to your doctor if you are experiencing health issues to make sure that there isn’t something serious going on.
Ok, so let’s review the specific bacteria in Bio Complete 3: Bifidobacterium bifidum UABb-10 and Bacillus coagulans.
Bifidobacterium – One of the key ingredients in Bio Complete 3 probiotics
Bifidobacterium is a critical player in your gut – you naturally have some of this species of bacteria living in your intestines! Various Bifodobacterium strains are also found in healthy fermented foods like some yogurts and cheeses. Its main role involves fermenting dietary fiber and other complex carbohydrates, transforming them into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) which have been linked to numerous gut health benefits. So it’s a healthy bacteria that you likely already have some of in your gut.
Below I’ll list out some of the health benefits that researchers have found with Bifidobacerium probiotic supplements, some of which have been conducted on B. bifidum UABb-10, the specific bacteria in this supplement. A number of these studies seem well done, following the gold standard in treatment research (double blind placebo studies). The downside is that most of the studies were pretty small – but that’s an issue with pretty much every probiotic research paper, so it is what it is and we shouldn’t hold it against the product.
Potential Benefits on Bifidobacterium – a review of the science
- Gut Health: Bifidobacterium may enhance gut health by stabilizing the microbiome, reducing inflammation, and promoting bowel regularity.
- Immunity Boost: Some strains might assist in bolstering the immune system, possibly decreasing susceptibility to infections.
- Digestive Disturbances: It may offer relief from diarrhea and even show promise in alleviating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms in some individuals.
- Eczema Management: There’s preliminary evidence suggesting Bifidobacterium might help reduce the symptoms of atopic eczema.
- Weight Management: Some strains may have a role in weight control by optimizing metabolism and reducing body fat. This is a difficult claim to really make for sure on this particular supplement. Some studies on a blend of bacteria show results, but in conjunction with other weight loss tactics like an improved diet (again, there was a placebo, and the one with the supplement did better, but it’s not a slam dunk in my opinion).
Bacillus coagulans (ProDura®) – another key probiotic in Bio Complete 3
The other probiotic bacteria in the supplement is Bacillus coagulans, branded as ProDura®. This is a lactic acid-producing bacteria, and it’s known to eat lactose, the milk sugar that causes a lot of people to have upset stomachs when they eat dairy (like my nephew!). A lot of people with healthy guts have some of the Bacillus species living in their guts naturally, and you can get some of the various strains in some healthy foods like fermented soybean products. Unlike many probiotics, it is spore-forming, which can offer enhanced stability and survival through the acidic environment of the stomach, ensuring better colonization in the intestine. This is another easy to review probiotic since there is a lot of medical research published on it.
Reviewing the potential Benefits of B. coagulans
- Digestive Comfort: Bacillus coagulans may alleviate abdominal discomfort and bloating, often associated with IBS – I found a number of studies that suggested this, so I feel like people who have IBS should consider this as a supplement (after discussing with their doctors!). And note that these studies usually run for at least 8 weeks, with my takeaway being you need to stick with the supplementation for a number of weeks to have a chance to see any improvement.
- Gut Flora Balance: By producing lactic acid, it might help maintain an optimal pH balance in the gut, deterring the growth of harmful bacteria. I’ve seen a number of studies that show this effect is livestock (lots of studies on chickens!) but since you aren’t feeding this to your chickens, I’m not going to link to them here. And while animal studies are great for reviewing the possible science, it’s not as good as a big, double blind study done on people.
- Immunity: It could play a role in enhancing the body’s natural immune response. This is a really complicated one to discuss; the mechanism on how the human gut and immune system are still being researched. Some studies of some strains of this bacteria may have some immunity boosting properties, but I’d say that more research needs to be done.
You can definitely combine probiotics like Dr Gundry’s team has in Bio Complete 3; in fact, I sometimes recommend it. And these are two solid bacteria to combine, so that makes me like this supplement. Now let’s review the prebiotics in the product.
What are prebiotics?
Prebiotics are non-digestible food components that positively impact the person taking them by selectively promoting the growth and/or activity of one or several beneficial bacteria in the colon. They are important enough that I’ve written an entire article on prebiotics. A great way to consume prebiotics is to eat the stuff that you already know are healthy foods – various plant-based foods, like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Because the human body can’t digest the fiber in these foods, they end up making it into the large intestine, where a lot of the healthy probiotic species happen to live. The prebiotics essentially “feed” the probiotics, supporting their growth and activity. Let’s dive into the prebiotic blends present in Bio Complete 3.
Reviewing the prebiotic Blend in Bio Complete 3
Acacia Gum (from Corebiome®)
Acacia Gum, also known as gum arabic, is derived from the sap of the Acacia tree. It’s a complex polysaccharide composed of galactose, rhamnose, and glucuronic acid.
Gut Health: Acacia gum acts as a dietary fiber, promoting bowel regularity. It’s well tolerated by people, and a number of well cited studies have shown that it’s a good source of healthy fiber.
Prebiotic Effect: Acacia gum is fermentable by the bacteria in your gut, making it an excellent food source for beneficial gut bacteria like Bifidobacterium, supporting their growth and colonization. Overall, this is a good source of food for the probiotic blend in the supplement.
SunFiber® Guar Fiber (PHGG)
SunFiber® is derived from the guar plant and is a partially hydrolyzed guar gum (PHGG). The hydrolyzation process makes it easier to dissolve in water, and it is well-tolerated in the digestive system.
Digestive Regularity: SunFiber® is known for its excellent solubility and promotes regular bowel movements without causing excess gas or bloating. It adds bulk to the stool, helping with both constipation and diarrhea.
Gut-friendly: As a prebiotic, SunFiber® supports the health and growth of the gut’s beneficial bacteria, particularly Lactobacillus (a healthy bacteria naturally occuring in your gut, and one that you can get as supplement if you want) and Bifidobacterium. It seems that there is research showing that good bacteria like this fiber as a food.
Weight Management: I found some studies that show that Guar Fiber can help people feel more full after eating, meaning they are less likely to want to eat again soon. Obviously this would be good for weight loss.
The combination of Acacia Gum and SunFiber® Guar Fiber in Bio Complete 3 offers a pretty great prebiotic blend designed to nourish and support the beneficial bacteria in the gut. And, the Guar Fiber may also help you feel full after eating, making it less likely that you’ll have to snack – possibly quite good for weight management. This, combined with the probiotic strains present in the supplement, makes the supplement a solid approach to gut health, aiming for both the nourishment and growth of beneficial bacteria.
The other major ingredient: Tributyrin
What is Tributyrin?
Ok, so even I had to do some research on this one, because I wasn’t very familiar with; Dr. Gundry is calling it a “postbiotic.” Tributyrin is a type of triglyceride that contains three molecules of butyric acid, which is a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA). Butyric acid is naturally produced in the gut when beneficial bacteria ferment dietary fiber, and it plays a role in maintaining gut health. I’ve seen some research (in mice) that suggests this ingredient can help reduce the risk of obesity (again, in mice). The best research I’ve seen says that it is “a substance with interesting possibilities for gastroenterological therapies…” but since it can’t be patented is of little interest to the pharmaceutical industry. So this was a hard ingredient to review, to be honest.
Other common questions that I’d get if they sold this at my pharmacy:
How long does it take for Bio Complete 3 to work?
Users’ experiences with Bio Complete 3 can vary, but many report a change within a few days. However, the product’s creator, Gundry MD, advocates for a consistent full month intake for maximum results. This aligns with scientific findings, which suggest that most probiotic supplements manifest noticeable results within 3 weeks for an average healthy person. Of course, individual responses can differ given the unique nature of everyone’s gut microbiome. I’ve got an entire article on how long it takes probiotics to work; you can review it if you want to learn more.
Does Bio Complete 3 aid in weight loss?
On paper, Bio Complete 3 comprises ingredients with potential weight loss properties. However, it’s essential to tread cautiously here. While there is some evidence, I wouldn’t call it a slam dunk. As with all health supplements, the best results stem from coupling them with a balanced diet and regular exercise. So my opinion would be that this would be a totally fine addition to a healthy weight management program that might start to show some minor results 4 to 8 weeks into taking it.
What is the best time of day to take Bio Complete 3
The suggested dosage is one capsule in the morning and one before bedtime, totaling four capsules daily. This is pretty much the advice I give at the pharmacy on when to take probiotics – the best time of day is in the morning and evening.
What does Bio Complete 3 cost?
This isn’t the cheapest probiotic supplement, at $70 per bottle, which should last a month. That comes to $2.33 per day (if there are 30 days in a month), or $1.17 per pill.
Storing Bio Complete 3
The product’s labeling doesn’t mandate refrigeration. However, given my knowledge of probiotics, I’d advocate for refrigeration. Keeping these living organisms chilled can potentially extend their shelf life and efficacy.
Pros and Cons of Bio Complete 3
- A solid blend of Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Tributyrin.
- Well studied probiotics that may have some real health benefits, and that are also known to be safe for healthy people to take
- Crafted under the guidance of Dr. Gundry, a physician who has a large following online about nutrition, and who has some best selling books under his belt as well
- No reported severe side effects.
- Numerous studies back the benefits of its core ingredients for gut health.
- It’s pretty expensive vs. a lot of the other probiotic supplements out there
- The formula includes only two probiotic strains, some competitors like the Good Girl Probiotics have quite a few more
- Customers have to pay to return the product if they don’t like it, from the negative reviews I saw online
- The pills are on the larger size
Conclusion: review of Bio Complete 3 by Dr Gundry
My overall review is that it promises a lot – and delivers. It’s got a good mix of well-studied bacteria, and some other interesting ingredients that may make this a good choice for people looking for a healthier gut and who are trying to manage their weight. It’s not cheap, so I’d only recommend this to people who are comfortable paying for a premium product. And, I always recommend seeing your doctor before starting a supplement or if you are having a health problem.