Do Probiotics Live Up To Their Hype?

July 25, 2017

Probiotics are mainstream.  From celebrity yogurt endorsements to aisles of pills and capsules, the idea of adding "good bacteria" into our digestive tract to treat a range of ailments from gut health to allergies sounds like a good idea.  Considering probiotic companies made a combined $35 billion in sales last year, it would appear they work. Science is catching up to the hype and although there have been some promising study results, many of those studies were extremely small and did not include human testing to backup claims.  There are anywhere from 300 to 500 known bacterial species in our digestive system that number in the trillions and for every person, that make up is different. That number alone illustrates why probiotics claims are not a clear as we once thought. That's not to say probiotics are useless.  Experts agree there are two groups of people that can benefit from probiotic treatments.  Those who suffer from IBS may find some relief thanks to probiotics and if you have recently wended a run of antibiotics.  Probiotics can add the good bacteria back into your gut.  In short, they aren't the only answer, probiotics work in tandem with a balanced diet. A diet of fermented foods like sauerkraut, miso soup, soft cheeses (like Gouda), and sourdough bread are fantastic sources of "good" bacteria. Also, don't confuse probiotics with prebiotics.  While probiotics are good bacteria that help keep your digestive system healthy, prebiotics are carbohydrates that cannot be digested by the human body and in essence, are food for probiotics.  Good sources of food prebiotics are asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, bananas, oatmeal and legumes.

SOURCE: Mother Nature Network & WedMD

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