It’s no secret thatis seriously buzzy in the health world. And something that is almost always part of that conversation is probiotics. Take a walk through any health store or pharmacy and you will probably see rows and rows of different kinds of probiotics promises to improve digestion and your overall health. And they are not cheap, often costing upwards of $ 20 or more per bottle. In fact, probiotic pressure is so high, and the market is expected to reach $ 73.8 billion by 2024.
Simply put, probiotics contain live bacteria that are designed to help fill “good” bacteria in your gut microbiome. The idea behind probiotics is that a healthy gut microbiome can contribute to better overall health and can help specific conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or even vaginal yeast infections. But the science behind these bugs is quite controversial and many studies are still ongoing to fully understand how they work.
To shed light on the subject, I dropped by a gastroenterologist and intestinal health expert, Dr. Will Bulsiewicz to explain how probiotics work and help you find out if they are right for you.
What do probiotics do?
When it comes to probiotics, it is important to understand that there are a variety of strains of probiotics that can all have potentially different effects on your body. So while it’s hard to explain how each strain works, the concept behind popular probiotics on the market is similar – filling healthy gut bacteria.
“The theory with probiotics is that they mimic the effects of our intact microbiota. In other words, just like our healthy gut microbes, these probiotics should optimize our immune system, reduce inflammation, inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria, correct leaky gut and restore intestinal barrier integrity, restore bowel mobility. , even improve the mood, says Dr. Bulsiewicz.
You can buy probiotics in supplements, but they are also found naturally in foods – especially foods that are fermented. Examples of probiotic foods include yogurt, kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut.
Since you can get probiotics from food, you may be curious as to why you even want to take a supplement. In addition to the convenience factor, an advantage of probiotic supplements is that you can choose products with targeted strains for certain problems with a supplement. On the other hand, if you eat yeast food, you can still get probiotics, but you may not know exactly which strains or how much.
So if you are looking at probiotics for a specific reason (ie IBS or constipation) you can benefit from examining specific bacterial strains that may help with it. For example, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG is a probiotic strain that researchers found particularly useful for diarrhea. Another thing to note is that probiotic supplements do not need to be approved by the FDA before they are sold. Otherwise, for the general benefits, one can eat probiotic rich foods like yogurt every day.
Who should or should not take probiotics?
Although technically everyone can take them, there are certain groups of people who can benefit most from probiotics. For example, they have been studied to help with a large number of diseases such as diarrhea and urinary tract infections (UTIs), to name just a few. And they are considered relatively safe for most people.
“Probiotics have been widely used for decades now by the general population, and the safety record has been excellent both in terms of health and disease,” says Dr. Bulsiewicz.
There are also certain groups of people who may be vulnerable to problems or complications from taking probiotics, so you should always consult your doctor before starting any supplement, including probiotics. According to Dr. Bulsiewicz found in some studies that there is an increased risk of complications for people with severe acute pancreatitis who took probiotics, and some people with movement disorders had problems with severe brain fog, gas and bloating.
“This may sound scary, but think of the millions of people who take probiotics daily for decades now, and that these opportunities are most extremely rare. To me, the most important issue with probiotics is not their safety. The main question is whether the benefit of probiotics is worth it. the cost, which often goes between $ 40 and $ 60 a month, “said Dr. Bulsiewicz.
Are probiotics worth buying?
The science of probiotics promises at best, but there is only much we do not know yet. For example, researchers do not know for sure which specific strains of probiotics are most useful and how much you actually need to take to see the benefits. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, there are not many in-depth or detailed studies on probiotic safety.
According to Dr. Bulsiewicz, although probiotic use is widespread and relatively safe, he is unsure that most supplements actually do what they claim.
“Ultimately, you want and should expect results from your probiotic. Unfortunately, many do not get results, and remain confused and frustrated that they have spent so much money. To increase the odds of success with a probiotic, you should choose for the strain and amount that has been shown in the study works for what medical condition you are trying to manage, says Dr. Bulsiewicz.
The best way to do this is to consult your doctor and a dietitian or nutritionist to find out which bacterial strains may be of benefit to you. This way, you do not waste precious time and money on taking supplements that may not even address the problem you hope to improve.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified healthcare provider if you have questions about a medical condition or health goal.