Probiotics: Are They for You?

Probiotics are widely touted as a beneficial bacteria that may help to promote a healthy gut. But will they actually help? 

Chances are that a probiotic supplement will not help and may actually harm your gut. It’s important to educate yourself before you buy. 

How Probiotics Work

Probiotic supplements are manufactured to replicate the bacteria in our bodies. Everyone’s MICROBIOME, the collections of bacteria in their body, is different and exists in a very delicate balance. The bacteria in our microbiome helps us process food and make vitamins. They are able to produce essential amino acids and also help educate our immune system. The gut microbiome actually plays a much larger role in our lives than imagined.

Studies Differ on How Effective Probiotics Are

Research by Dr. Jeff Gordon at Washington University in St. Louis has shown that the capacity to process foods we consume is linked to health and our disease state. Research also suggests a healthy microbiome may reduce risks of disease like cancer and diabetes. Dr. Gordons research also shows that part of the cause of obesity may be from the types of bacteria in the gut of that person.

Unfortunately, studies at Boston University have not been able to show that putting probiotic supplements in body will land in the right place in G I tract and work with immune system. Right now, there is not enough quality research to show that off the shelf probiotics will work as stated.

Another clinical study done by the Weizmann Institute wanted to see how probiotics taken actually interacted with bacteria already in gut microbiome. Surprisingly, the bacteria entered in body but did not populate or settle in the gut. The same study also found that probiotics actually delayed the restoration of bacteria of people who were on antibiotics. This had previously been thought that probiotics would assist with recovery of antibiotics destroying bacteria during use, a common practice with physicians.

Our Verdict? Be Cautious If You Buy

In general, most researchers believe that probiotics may eventually become beneficial. However, we need to be very cautious in prescribing these microbes without knowing enough of what they may or may not do.