Sunday, May 19, 2024

Are Probiotics Actually Good For You

What Does The Research Say

Probiotics Are The Latest Health Craze, But Are They Actually Good For You? | NBC Nightly News

Probiotic doses are listed as colony forming units , which means the number of live strains in each dose.

Different brands will have different suggested doses and uses, so its important to understand the information listed.

Recent research found that the type of microbe strain, health condition, product formula, dose, and the quality of the product are all important for effectiveness.

The condition or symptom youre trying to treat can affect how the probiotic works and when youll see results. If youre taking a probiotic for general gut or immune health, youll need to take it awhile to see results.

On the other hand, if youre taking a probiotic for relief from diarrhea, you may see faster results.

For example, has shown that, when used in combination with rehydration therapy, treatment with probiotics can reduce the duration and frequency of infectious diarrhea in as little as 2 days.

Another study demonstrated that people who consumed a high-dose probiotic drink containing Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus casei, and Lactobacillus fermentium for 12 weeks experienced significantly less upper respiratory infections and flu-like symptoms compared to a placebo group.

Plus, it was shown that the probiotic drink boosted the immune system of the participants by increasing levels of antibodies including sIgA in the gut after 12 weeks.

Depending on what youre taking probiotics for, you may see symptom improvements anywhere between a few days to a few months.

Are The Pills Safe

Makers of probiotics dont have to prove to the Food and Drug Administration that their products are safe and effective before theyre marketed.

And a recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine sounded an alarm about the lack of scientific proof to support their safety.

You are taking in live bacteria, so its possible that certain people may be vulnerable to infection from it and not able to fight it off, Cresci says.

While serious side effects are unlikely in healthy people, those who are immune-compromised, elderly or critically ill in particular should consult a doctor before taking these supplements.

So Should You Try A Probiotic

The simple answer seems to be yes. Probiotics are often prescribed by doctors and are generally thought to be safe for most people. Benefits associated with probiotics and the healthy gut that comes as a result of taking them are what encourage most people to include a probiotic supplement in their daily routine. Though they are found in some foods, its difficult to know how much probiotic a food product contains. So, if youre looking to improve gut health, a daily supplement is best as the amount of probiotic is consistent. However, though they seem like a good idea and arent known for causing harm, you should still talk to your doctor before starting to take probiotics.


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Probiotics May Help Boost Your Immune System

Probiotics may help give your immune system a boost and inhibit the growth of harmful gut bacteria .

Also, some probiotics have been shown to promote the production of natural antibodies in the body. They may also boost immune cells like the IgA-producing cells, T lymphocytes and natural killer cells (

Bottom Line:

Certain probiotics may help you lose weight and belly fat. However, other strains have been linked to weight gain.

So What Are The Issues With Probiotics

Are probiotics really good for you?

There is still the question of whether some probiotics stick around long enough in the body to do anything.

In a 2018 study published in Cell, a team of scientists gave Supherbs Bio-25, a mixture of 11 bacterial strains commercially available in Israel, to 10 healthy people for four weeks and found that the probiotics passed right through four of them.

This suggests that in some people, these strains will not have an effect, said Eran Segal,a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and a co-author of the study.

Studies aside, though, the other major problem with probiotics is that they may not contain what they say they do. In the United States, the F.D.A. regulates most probiotics as dietary supplements, which means that their manufacturing and quality-control standards are far less stringent than standards for prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

In a 2016 study, researchers at the University of California-Davis and other institutions used DNA analysis to compare the bacterial strains listed on the labels of 16 commercially available probiotics with what the products actually had in them.

The researchers found that only one of the 16 products contained the strains listed on the label some had entirely different bacterial species. Good quality control matters: In 2014, a premature baby died from what was believed to be mold contamination in a probiotic supplement.

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How To Make Kombucha At Home For Less Money

Since you can get probiotics from food, you might be curious about why you would even want to take a supplement. Besides the convenience factor, one benefit from probiotic supplements is that you can choose products with targeted strains for certain issues with a supplement. On the other hand, if you eat fermented foods you can still get probiotics, but you may not know exactly which strains or how much.

So if you’re looking into probiotics for a specific reason then you may benefit from looking into specific strains of bacteria that can help with that. For example, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG is a probiotic strain that researchers found particularly helpful for diarrhea. Another thing to note is that probiotic supplements do not have to be approved before they are sold. Otherwise, for the general benefits, eating probiotic rich foods like yogurt each day can do the trick.

How Popular Are Probiotics

The 2012 National Health Interview Survey showed that about 4 million U.S. adults had used probiotics or prebiotics in the past 30 days. Among adults, probiotics or prebiotics were the third most commonly used dietary supplement other than vitamins and minerals. The use of probiotics by adults quadrupled between 2007 and 2012. The 2012 NHIS also showed that 300,000 children age 4 to 17 had used probiotics or prebiotics in the 30 days before the survey.

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How To Choose A Probiotic Supplement

As with most health recs, there are no one-size-fits-all guidelines when it comes to choosing the right probiotic supplement.

They’re effective at varying amounts, Ditkoff says. “Scientific studies have determined health benefits from 50 million to more than 1 trillion CFUs per day.” CFUs stands for colony-forming units it’s a measure of the concentration of microbes in a probiotic supplement. In other words, “a probiotic with higher CFUs doesn’t necessarily equal better quality or effectiveness,” Ditkoff says.

There’s still research to be done on which probiotic strains are best for specific conditions. Lactobacillus rhamnosus, the strain found in the brand Culturelle’s probiotic supplements, has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of antibiotic-associated diarrhea and acute infectious diarrhea, Ditkoff says. More research is also needed regarding the best strains for other conditions, like depression.

The smartest approach to supplementation: Run it by your doctor or registered dietitian so that they can help you determine if a supplement is right for you and recommend a trusted brand. Be picky about your source, as supplements are not tightly regulated.

Shopping for a Probiotic?

Can They Boost Health

Probiotics: Are They Really Necessary? | Talking Point | Diet

Some strains have been shown to help with GI complaints, some with immune function and some even have been shown to have benefits outside the intestinal tract, such as with vaginal health or eczema, says Gail Cresci, a Cleveland Clinic researcher who studies the microbiome. But there are few definitive conclusions from the current research.

One of the most common reasons people take probiotics is to help rebuild the microbiome after a course of antibiotics, because the drugs kill good bacteria along with the bad. But there may be a downside, according to a new study published in the journal Cell.

Surprisingly, our research found that the consumption of probiotics after antibiotics can actually delay the natural restoration of the gut microbiome, says Eran Elinav, an author of the study and a professor of immunology at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

Some experts think that probiotics may need to be personalized to be beneficial.

Another study by Elinav and his colleagues suggests that not everyones gut reacts the same way to probiotic pills. They studied samples of microbiomes from antibiotic users before and after they took supplements for four weeks. The good bacteria were found in the digestive tracts of some people. But in others, the bacteria were present only in stool samples, not in their digestive tracts, where theyre thought to be needed to improve health.

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Antibiotics And Probiotics Together

Taking probiotics during your course of antibiotics can replenish the good bacteria and help reduce some of the side effects of taking said antibiotics.

Although it may sound counterintuitive to take probiotic supplements while also taking probiotic-killing antibiotics, research shows that its beneficial to your gut health to fortify your system with the protective probiotic supplementation.

Probiotics may also help prevent widespread antibiotic resistance by ensuring that people take their full course of prescribed antibiotics.

Stopping a course of antibiotics early usually because of intolerable side effects increases the chances that some of the bad bacteria may survive and become resistant. By reducing or eliminating side effects, probiotics can make it much easier to stay the course.

Talk with your naturopath or health care provider about which probiotic you are on and they will know how long it will remain in your system. This is key information to determine when to take your probiotic so it does not interfere with your course of antibiotics.

What Are Probiotics Exactly

Probiotics are living microorganisms that naturally exist in the GI tract and also occur in some foods. Contrary to popular belief, probiotics are bacteria and/or yeast, not whole foods. That is, certain foods contain probiotics, but they aren’t probiotics themselves.

Probiotics are considered the “good” kind of bacteria. That’s because they confer countless health benefits, like improved digestion and immunity, per Harvard Health Publishing.

The gut naturally houses both good bacteria probiotics and bad bacteria, such as C. Diff, a bacterial strain that induces severe diarrhea and inflammation in the colon.

The gut typically contains some 100 trillion bacteria, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

That sounds like a lot, right? But here’s the thing: “Although the digestive tract naturally produces probiotics, it’s beneficial to also consume more foods naturally rich in probiotics to increase your levels and the variety of strains of the good bacteria in the gut,” explains Rebecca Ditkoff, RDN, a New York City-based registered dietitian who specializes in digestive health. More on that in a minute.

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How Safe Are Probiotics

Because microbes used as probiotics already exist naturally in your body, probiotic foods and supplements are generally considered safe. They may trigger allergic reactions, and may also cause mild stomach upset, diarrhea, or flatulence and bloating for the first few days after starting to take them.

There are certain people who need to use caution when using probiotic supplements. There is a risk of infection in some people. These people include those who have:

  • A weakened immune system .
  • A critical illness.

Caution should also be used when giving probiotics to very sick infants.

Always talk to your healthcare provider before starting a probiotic supplement.

Do I Need To Take Probiotics After I Take Antibiotics

Probiotics: are they really good for you?

Antibiotic medications are often needed to fight an infection. However, while antibiotics are killing the bad bacteria, they are also knocking out the good bacteria in your body. Some people develop conditions like diarrhea after taking an antibiotic. In other people, this may allow for really bad bacteria to take over and populate the gut, such as with C. diff. Some research has shown a positive connection between taking probiotics after an antibiotic and relief from diarrhea. This hasnt been proven yet and doesnt work for everyone.

The thought behind adding probiotics back into your body after taking an antibiotic is that it can repopulate the good bacteria that was destroyed by the antibiotics and re-boot your system. The extra good bacteria helps repopulate your gut and fight off any remaining bad bacteria. Many people feel that adding in probiotics wont hurt, might help you feel better a little faster and prevent diarrhea.

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Whats The Deal With Probiotics

You may be hearing more and more about probiotics supplements that contain “healthy” bacteria that claim to have multiple benefits, including helping with gut health and digestive issues. Probiotics are being marketed for specific conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome or to demographic audiences, such as women or children. But do they really help?

What are probiotics?

Often referred to as “friendly” or “good” bacteria, probiotics help keep the normal healthy balance of bacteria in your gut specifically the lining of the gut which includes the microbiome. We are learning more and more about the body’s microbiome and how to maintain the balance of bacteria already growing there in addition to adding living bacteria into your system through probiotics. A healthy gut microbiome helps with digestion, boosts the immune system, contributes to blood sugar levels, and may even influence mood and mental health.

Where are probiotics found?

Probiotics can be found in multiple forms.

Bacteria-fermented foods are good sources of probiotics, including:
  • Active-culture yogurts
  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut

Probiotics also come in pill form with a variety of different strains or types, including acidophilus, lactobacillus or formulations targeted for different health benefits, such as gastrointestinal health or women’s health.

Research on probiotics

Generally, there are a variety of areas of research for probiotics:

What’s the consensus? Are they beneficial?

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Probiotics And Gut Health

The best case for probiotic therapy has been in the treatment of diarrhea. Controlled trials have shown that Lactobacillus GG can shorten the course of infectious diarrhea in infants and children . Although studies are limited and data are inconsistent, two large reviews, taken together, suggest that probiotics reduce antibiotic-associated diarrhea by 60%, when compared with a placebo.

More common than diarrhea is the opposite problem constipation. In a search for studies on the benefits of probiotics in treating constipation, researchers found that probiotics slowed “gut transit time” by 12.4 hours, increases the number of weekly bowel movements by 1.3, and helped to soften stools, making them easier to pass. But the jury is still out on specific recommendations when it comes to the benefits of

Probiotic therapy may also help people with Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Clinical trial results are mixed, but several small studies suggest that certain probiotics may help maintain remission of ulcerative colitis and prevent relapse of Crohn’s disease and the recurrence of pouchitis . Because these disorders are so frustrating to treat, many people are giving probiotics a try before all the evidence is in for the particular strains they’re using. More research is needed to find out which strains work best for what conditions.

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Are Probiotics A Scam

With probiotics, details matter. Its silly to walk into a drugstore, grab a probiotic off the shelf and think its going to do you any good.

Be wary, too, of recommendations made by people who havent consulted the scientific literature. Dont blindly trust a pharmacist, doctor, health-food shop attendant or dietary book, as sadly, most are ill informed, Dr. Reid said.

But if a doctor you trust recommends a particular strain that has been shown in clinical studies to help your condition, or if you have identified a strain that is backed up by solid clinical research and really want to give it a try, then sure, go ahead after double-checking with your doctor first. Dont expect miracles, however.

Compromised Gut Flora: Causes And Consequences

Why Probiotics Are Good For You

It is also possible for a persons gut flora to be severely compromised, which can have dramatic consequences on health. It is thought that this could result in an increased risk of disease and a lower immune system function.


The use of antibiotics is common for treating many conditions. As a result, the medication damages both healthy and unhealthy bacteria.

Antibiotic treatment often compromises gut bacteria, which will not recover on its own for people who have taken antibiotics.

NSAIDs and other medications may also have an impact on gut bacteria.

Many medications dont study this effect thoroughly, so we dont know which will impact the gut bacteria. Taking steps to improve your gut flora may be worth considering if youre taking any medication for a prolonged period of time.

Choices of food

We may also be affected by certain health conditions if we eat certain foods that harm our gut bacteria. A high-sugar diet and a reliance on processed foods, for instance, can damage bacteria in the gut.

In addition, some research suggests that fatty and sugary diets can alter gut bacteria. Cognitive flexibility is the ability to adapt to changes in a persons environment. This type of change can result in reduced cognitive flexibility.

Sweeteners with artificial ingredients

Several studies have found that artificial sweeteners may harm gut bacteria, and that overeating may also cause damage if it leads to unhealthy habits.

The following causes may also contribute

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Can Probiotics Repopulate Good Bacteria After Taking Antibiotics

Probiotics foods like yogurt are routinely recommended to help repopulate gut bacteria after taking an antibiotic, so this second study looked at the effectiveness of using a probiotic supplement to do this.

All study participants completed a round of antibiotics. Then some individuals were given a probiotic supplement to take daily, while some took nothing, essentially allowing the gut to recover on its own. Results suggested that taking the probiotic supplement increased good bacteria numbers in the gut, but this actually slowed the microbiome from returning to pre-antibiotic conditions. The reason?

Even though the supplement increased good bacteria, these werent necessarily strains that each individual needed. The effect was that it took those individuals microbiomes several months to return to normal and longer than those who took nothing.

The second study suggests taking probiotic supplements to restore good bacteria following antibiotics may actually slow repair of the gut microbiome.

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