The Truth about Probiotics

Probiotic

Probiotics are gut bacteria who scientists are discovering play an important role in a whole host of bodily functions, from digestion to immune functioning. They may even inhibit mood disorders. As a result, probiotic food products and supplements have flooded the market making all sorts of claims for themselves. It’s hard to separate fact from fiction in terms of their use, health benefits and effectiveness in fighting or preventing illness. The first thing to know is that although manufacturers make exorbitant claims, there is no evidence to prove that any of these products prevent or lessen the severity of any disease. Some products claim they “improve digestive health.” But this phrase is vague and thus hard to prove.  Probiotic research is a new and emerging field. Though it is promising, researchers don’t know enough yet to speak definitively on the efficacy of consuming probiotics. How it works in the body, what the exact benefits are, what dosages are proper, and lots of other questions are still up in the air. That said there are some basic truths researchers have pinned down. Here are some myths about probiotics debunked.

All supplements are not the same. Some have single bacterial strains, others several. And then strains of different species may interact differently within your system. In fact, supplements could vary widely with each being completely different, at least in theory. The concentration of these bacteria may also vary from product-to-product. It’s hard for researchers to extract the health benefits of each and every probiotic bacterium strain as many different kinds often inhabit the same area. Probiotics are not a substitute for medication, as some claim. They could down the road be supplements taken in tandem with medications, or as a therapy post-medication. When purchasing such products, don’t believe the labeling outright. Food and supplement manufacturers cannot offer an accurate count of the probiotics within. Many believe that yogurt is always a good source. Look for the phrase “live and active cultures.” These are the ones you should purchase. Without this or a listing of the probiotics within, the yogurt does not contain them. Some say you won’t catch a cold if you consume probiotics. Though initial studies show they support the immune system, there is no evidence that consuming more probiotics will prevent you from getting sick.

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