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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Probiotics: The Facts

Probiotics seems to be one of the latest advertising blitzes in products that are said to benefit your health. According to commercials, probiotics are supposed to contain good bacteria to "fortify your digestive system," "strengthen your immune system," and "improve digestive health." But does it, really? A little research goes a long way in understanding what probiotics are how they work.

The body already produces its own probiotics. These are micro organisms that help control bacteria in the intestinal tract and keep the digestive system healthy. In fact, the intestinal tract normally contains literally trillions of bacteria, yeast and other microbes, many of which are necessary for digestion and a healthy immune system. So, why do we need more probiotics?

Good question. Especially since so many ads for foods and beverages with probiotics makes people think they must need it. However, the facts are that many of these products do not contain enough of the good bacteria needed to have any health benefits. One consultant for the probiotic industry explained that in order for a probiotic product to work, it needs to have purified strains of specific microbes or yeasts, like B. Animalis, Bifidobacterium or Lactobacillus and in sufficient amounts to have any effect. In addition, stomach acid kills bacteria, so you have to wonder how the advertised probiotics can survive.

Foods with probiotics may help some people who suffer from diarrhea as a side effect from using antibiotics, or people who are lactose intolerant or have other digestive problems. Dannon's Activia yogurt, for example, does contain B. Animalis. However, ads for probiotics contain warnings that say "this statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration." The FDA is not saying the product is not good for you but is saying that these products have not yet been tested.

DISCLAIMER: The content or opinions expressed on this web site are not to be interpreted as medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or medical practictioner before utilizing any suggestions on this web site.