This week I ran a corporate workshop on the “Immune System”, and dug a little deeper into the topic of probiotics. ⠀

What are Probiotics:

Probiotics are compounds that contain viable (living) microorganisms such as lactic acid bacteria and yeasts. There are more than 400 different types of probiotics.

Probiotics are extremely popular, whether in yoghurts or in the form of capsules or powders. It is said that the bacterial strains settle in the digestive tract and thus ensure a healthy intestinal flora and can prevent or even heal a number of ailments. The bacteria in probiotics are part of the microbiome, so the bacterial world that also influences the life of cells on our skin and our lungs.

But what does research say about probiotics? Are they really as beneficially as we are made to believe?

Until today, there are very few studies that actually prove the health benefits of probiotics. Most so called statements published about probiotics are pseudo-scientific without a scientific foundation. Consumers are confronted with plenty of fake news about the probiotic bacterial world.

The truth about probiotics is:

  • Many of the good bacteria do not survive the passage through the stomach and thus do not play an important role in the large intestine anymore. ⠀
  • For people with an auto-immune disease, probiotics may actually be more harmful than beneficial.
  • A study by the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel actually found that while in those who received probiotics following antibiotic treatment, the microorganisms from the probiotic settled successfully in their intestine, the recovery of their gut through their own intestinal flora was significantly slowed down.

But of course not everything about the idea of probiotic products is bad. It’s just too unspecific, too little researched at the moment. For example, animal studies showed that if certain types of bacteria predominate, the risk of developing asthma decreases. Does that mean we can now simply take some probiotics and our asthma is gone? Unfortunately it does not work this way. A gut flora that is good for one person can have negative consequences for the another person. Why this happens, we don’t know yet. Many more studies are needed to learn more and safely so.

The best case for probiotic therapy is in the treatment of diarrhoea, especially in children.

Even in Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS, probiotics in sufficiently high doses and after consultation with a doctor are worth a “try”. Unfortunately, the effects tend to disappear after a while and the individual intestinal flora regains its terrain.

Does that mean you cannot enjoy the possible benefits of probiotics anymore? Of course not but approach the topic with a common sense. Just enjoy home-made food and its many benefits: you’ll be happier, healthier, and have higher energy levels.

Posted on July 18, 2019 by Luitgard Holzleg

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