How Effective Are Probiotics
Researchers are currently unsure how effective probiotic supplements are for treating conditions. Theres constant research on the topic. While many research studies have had positive results on the impact of probiotic supplements, more research is still needed.
Its also important to keep in mind that unlike medications, dietary supplements do not need to be approved by the FDA. This means that manufacturers can sell supplements simply with claims of safety and effectiveness.
Always talk with your healthcare provider before taking a supplement or giving one to your child. Supplements might interfere with medicines you may be taking. If you are pregnant or breast feeding, check with your provider before taking any supplement.
How Are Probiotics Regulated In The United States
Government regulation of probiotics in the United States is complex. Depending on a probiotic productâs intended use, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration might regulate it as a dietary supplement, a food ingredient, or a drug.
Many probiotics are sold as dietary supplements, which donât require FDA approval before they are marketed. Dietary supplement labels may make claims about how the product affects the structure or function of the body without FDA approval, but they arenât allowed to make health claims, such as saying the supplement lowers your risk of getting a disease, without the FDAâs consent.
If a probiotic is going to be marketed as a drug for treatment of a disease or disorder, it has to meet stricter requirements. It must be proven safe and effective for its intended use through clinical trials and be approved by the FDA before it can be sold.
Probiotics Help Balance The Friendly Bacteria In Your Digestive System
Probiotics include good bacteria. These are live microorganisms that can provide health benefits when consumed .
These benefits are thought to result from the ability of probiotics to restore the natural balance of gut bacteria .
An imbalance means there are too many bad bacteria and not enough good bacteria. It can happen due to illness, medication such as antibiotics, poor diet and more.
Consequences can include digestive issues, allergies, mental health problems, obesity and more .
Probiotics are usually found in fermented foods or taken as supplements. Whats more, they appear to be safe for most people.
Probiotics are live microorganisms. When taken in sufficient amounts, they can help restore the natural balance of gut bacteria. As a result, health benefits may follow.
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Scientific Guidelines For Testing
First, probiotics must be alive when administered. One of the concerns throughout the scientific literature resides in the viability and reproducibility on a large scale of observed results for specific studies, as well as the viability and stability during use and storage, and finally the ability to survive in stomach acids and then in the intestinal ecosystem.
Second, probiotics must have undergone controlled evaluation to document health benefits in the target host. Only products that contain live organisms shown in reproducible human studies to confer a health benefit may claim to be probiotic. The correct definition of health benefit, backed with solid scientific evidence, is a strong element for the proper identification and assessment of the effect of a probiotic. This aspect is a challenge for scientific and industrial investigations because several difficulties arise, such as variability in the site for probiotic use and mode of application.
Third, the probiotic candidate must be a taxonomically defined microbe or combination of microbes ” rel=”nofollow”> strain level). It is commonly admitted that most effects of probiotics are strain-specific and cannot be extended to other probiotics of the same genus or species. This calls for a precise identification of the strain, i.e. genotypic and phenotypic characterization of the tested microorganism.
Weight Loss May Be Easier With The Help Of Probiotics
Another growing area of research on probiotics is weight loss.
For example, a study published in October 2017 in the journal Cell & Bioscience suggested that lowering inflammation helps combat insulin resistance, the hallmark of type 2 diabetes, and fat accumulation.
Also, a systematic review and meta-analysis published in March 2018 in the journal Genes found that using a probiotic was associated with decreases in body mass index , weight, and fat mass with a probiotic dose of at least 30 billion for greater than 12 weeks.
The authors stated that the amounts, type, and duration of the probiotics require further study, though, because these measures werent consistent across every study. Probiotics and prebiotics showed a significant decrease while synbiotics did not, more due to the lack of studies, and the large differences between those studies negatively impacted the analysis. Yet the authors concluded that these dietary agents are essential tools in treating obesity. More on how these differ later.
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Question #: When Should I Take My Probiotic
Its best practice to take probiotics right before a meal, which seems to increase the odds of the little bugs doing their job in your digestive tract.33
If youre on antibiotics, its natural to wonder if the antibiotic will wipe out the probiotic. After all, antibiotics kill bacteria, right?
The short answer: You dont really need to worry about this your probiotic will be fine.
The long answer: Antibiotics do kill bacteria. But they work in different ways.
Some antibiotics disrupt the cell wall or membrane of the bacteria they target, others prevent protein synthesis so the bacteria die off, and others damage the bacterias genetic material.
Because of this, antibiotics dont kill all the bacteria they come into contact with, so they may or may not affect the probiotics you take. And they may or may not affect your native microbiome.
Also, some probiotics are yeasts, like Saccharomyces boulardii, so theyre not affected by antibiotics.
Theres also this: No matter when you take your probiotic and antibiotic, theyre both going to be hanging around in your GI tract for about a day.
That means to some degree, everything is going to get mixed together anyway, which is why this really isnt something to be concerned about.
The Benefits Of Probiotics
In every healthy digestive system, there is a balance. Probiotics help to keep the digestive system in balance. There are many reasons a digestive system becomes unbalanced. These include illness, taking antibiotics, a poor diet, or an overgrowth of bad bacteria. Gastrointestinal problems can result from such an imbalance.
More research on probiotics is needed. However, there is evidence that:
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How Do I Know If My Dog Needs Probiotics
The best way to figure out if your dog needs probiotics is to get their blood tested. Many vets recommend this for all dogs regardless of age or current health issues because it can help you get a better idea of the type of care they need.
Your vet may suggest that you come back in 1-2 months even if your dog doesn’t have any current issues. This is because it can help identify problems before they become serious and spread throughout their body.
A Healthy Gut Clears The Way For A Healthy Lifestyle
Probiotics are associated with a wide range of health benefits. The one that most people think of is, obviously, rooted in healthy digestion. After all, people who take probiotic supplements on a regular basis report fewer complications with digestion, and people with chronic gastrointestinal issues experience fewer flare ups and occurrences when they’re taking probiotic as directed.
Even if the health benefits were only limited to the digestive tract, it would be reason enough for everyone to take these supplements, but as it turns out, the positive effects are far more widespread than this! Here are just a few:
- Probiotics may have a positive effect on heart health
- Probiotics have been found to improve the human immune system
- Probiotics may be used to help relieve occasional cough and mucus associated with common irritants
Studies have shown that people who get a regular diet and exercise tend to live longer, and more importantly, happier lives. It’s also understandable that if you don’t feel well or develop a chronic illness, it will be more of a challenge to continue to make healthy choices like staying active or eating a balanced diet.
These things tend to snowball, which is why you should make a probiotic supplement part of your daily routine so you can give yourself the best chance for long-lasting health and happiness.
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Can I Give Probiotics To My Kids
Adults and children alike can benefit from probiotics. If your child is suffering from an infection that necessitates the use of antibiotics, a probiotic can assist to alleviate symptoms.
Childrens constipation, acid reflux, diarrhoea, gas, and eczema can all be helped with probiotics.
Incorporating probiotics into your childs diet through food is usually a safe approach to do so. Yogurt and cottage cheese are common components of a well-balanced diet and can provide beneficial bacteria without posing a significant risk.
There are probiotic supplements specifically formulated for newborns and children on the market.
However, before giving your child any probiotic supplement or changing their diet to include probiotic-rich foods, speak with their paediatrician.
Your Gut Health Should Be A Top Priority
Our digestive tract aka, the gut is how we keep our body nourished, functioning properly, and healthy all of which are important things in order to live a vibrant, healthy life.
When our gut is functioning properly, it works to keep harmful substances out of our body and allow helpful nutrients into the body.
In order for the gut to function properly, the tissues of the gastrointestinal tract need to be tight, toned, and strong, the gut microbiome needs to be properly balanced, the right amount of digestive secretions need to be present when food is eaten, and regular elimination should occur daily.
Having a healthy diet can go a long way in helping the gut to function properly as can other holistic lifestyle practices like regular movement, stress reduction, healthy sleep patterns, minimizing environmental toxins, etc. Eating a balanced real food diet with plenty of fiber and cultured or fermented foods can help set you up for good gut health. Using a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement can also help fill in dietary gaps when needed.
When gut bacteria is concerned, eating cultured and fermented foods regularly is a good start, but probiotic supplements can help if those things are infrequent or lacking in your diet.
For those of us who arent farmers and dont always have a 100% clean diet, supplements nutritional and herbal can be used to give us a boost when needed.
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What Should We Look For When Choosing A Probiotic Supplement
There are two key issues when choosing a probiotic: the first is to ensure that the product contains enough bacteria to have an effect the second is to ensure that it survives the acidic environment of the stomach in order to reach the large intestine. Examples of probiotics that meet this criteria include Alforex, Yakult, Symprove and VSL #3. Each of these is designed to treat different symptoms, so if you are thinking about taking a probiotic, seek advice from a specialist dietitian or GP to ensure you take the correct one.
Unless stated differently by manufactures, probiotics should be taken for a minimum of four weeks before effects may be seen. If no improvement is noted, it is recommended that you try another brand or stop completely.
Should I Try Probiotics
If you are interested in adding probiotics to your diet, its worth a conversation with your healthcare provider. Many providers may suggest giving them a try to see if they help with your general health. It is important to remember that not all probiotics behave the same way and have the same effects. Each has their own individual benefits. They generally dont cause harm. One easy way to start can be by simply introducing probiotic-rich foods into your diet, like yogurt.
Before you start any supplements, make sure you talk to your healthcare provider. Your provider may be able to point you in the right direction, helping you figure out the best probiotic to take, how much to take and when to take it. A conversation is always worth the time when it concerns your health.
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Are Probiotics Safe For Kids Heres What You Need To Know
You may have passed them in the health food aisle at your local grocery store or seen a reference to them in your favorite healthy living blog probiotics.
Many adults use these supplements to help regulate their digestive systems. Some claim that probiotics can help with conditions like eczema and even yeast infections.
But probiotics dont always work the same for children.
Probiotics are useful for keeping your digestive tract healthy, says Dr. Joy Drass, pediatrician at Geisinger Port Matilda. But its important to know which probiotics you can give to your child, since they may not work the same way they do in adults.
Conditions Related To Allergy
- A review of 23 studies in which probiotics were tested for treating allergic rhinitis found some evidence that they may be helpful for improving symptoms and quality of life. However, because the studies tested different probiotics and measured different effects, no recommendations about the use of probiotics could be made. Few side effects of probiotics were reported in these studies.
- A review of 11 studies of probiotics for asthma in children had inconclusive results.
- Atopic dermatitis is an itchy chronic skin disorder thatâs associated with allergies but not caused by them. Itâs most common in infants and may start as early as age 2 to 6 months. Many people outgrow it by early adulthood. Atopic dermatitis is one of several types of eczema.
- A 2017 review of 13 studies of probiotics for the treatment of atopic dermatitis in infants and children did not find consistent evidence of a beneficial effect. A review of 9 studies in adults provided preliminary evidence that some strains of probiotics might be beneficial for symptoms of atopic dermatitis.
Prevention of Allergies
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Question #: How Long Will It Take A Probiotic To Work
Theres no standardization in how long you should take probiotics.
If youre taking probiotics for antibiotic-associated diarrhea, youll want to take them until youre feeling better. This could be anywhere from one to eight weeks, for instance. But if you dont notice any improvement in your symptoms after a month, it may not be worth continuing.
If youre taking probiotics for IBS, some research suggests people do better when they take them for shorter periods of time, as in less than eight weeks.
As a general rule of thumb, Id recommend taking a probiotic for a month. Then, use the steps directly below to determine whether its working for you.
This works out conveniently, since most probiotics are packaged in a one-month supply. That way, you can make a decision about whether to continue before you buy more.
Measuring Whether Probiotics Work Is Tricky
Just because you pooped out microbes doesnt mean they took up residence and started multiplying in your gut, as evidenced by the study mentioned above. But taking samples from a persons gut requires, well, getting a tube stuck into your intestines. And its not always easy to find enough people who are willing to endure that in the name of science.
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The Best Way To Benefit From Probiotics
You can get probiotics from a variety of foods or supplements.
If you want to buy a probiotic supplement, then there is an with thousands of customer reviews.
Live probiotic cultures are often found in fermented dairy products such as yogurts and milk drinks. Fermented foods like pickled vegetables, tempeh, miso, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut and soy products may also contain some lactic acid bacteria.
You can also take probiotics as tablets, capsules and powders that contain the bacteria in dried form.
However, be aware that some probiotics can be destroyed by stomach acid before they even reach the gut meaning that you get none of the intended benefits.
If you want to experience any of the health benefits discussed above, its important that you consume adequate amounts.
Most of the studies showing benefits used dosages of 1 billion to 100 billion live organisms or colony-forming units per day.
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Issues To Be Aware Of
If you’re considering trying probiotics, there are a few issues you need to be aware of.
Probiotics are generally classed as food rather than medicine, which means they don’t go through the rigorous testing medicines do.
Because of the way probiotics are regulated, we can’t always be sure that:
- the product actually contains the bacteria stated on the food label
- the product contains enough bacteria to have an effect
- the bacteria are able to survive long enough to reach your gut
There are many different types of probiotics that may have different effects on the body, and little is known about which types are best.
You may find a particular type of probiotic helps with one problem. But this doesn’t mean it’ll help other problems, or that other types of probiotic will work just as well.
And there’s likely to be a huge difference between the pharmaceutical-grade probiotics that show promise in clinical trials and the yoghurts and supplements sold in shops.
Page last reviewed: 27 November 2018 Next review due: 27 November 2021
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Theres No Single Healthy Gut Profile
A healthy persons gut profile could look completely different from another healthy persons gut.
The same goes for people with various diseases: two people with the same GI disease, for example, may have vastly different gut profiles.
So while probiotics can help in certain situations , theres still a lot we dont know about how our gut works and what probiotics can do. And when it comes to gut health overall, I often say were being sold a problem so we can buy a solution.
Thats why its important to keep your eyes and ears open for disinformation and sales tactics related to gut health.
In particular, watch out for anyone/anything claiming that:
- gut dysbiosis, gut imbalance, or leaky gut is the cause of any disease
- they can diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent dysbiosis or leaky gut
- you need supplementation, detoxing, or any sort of gut reset
- they can design a specific diet for you based on the microbes in your gut
- theres a specific profile of a healthy gut or dysbiosis
- they have the ability to directly modify your gut microbiota in a specific way
- studies from rodent or cell culture are directly representative of the human gut microbiome
The bottom line: Theres still so much we dont know about the gut microbiome that its impossible to define good or bad gut health.