If you are one of those people that swear by Probiotics and feel so much better spending the money and consuming these products you might want to think again! Researchers have found that these so-called-beneficial bacterial might just be a lot of hype and aren’t really doing much for your stomach. The majority of studies done on Probiotics have failed to reveal any benefits in individuals who are already healthy. The bacteria seems to only help those people suffering from a few specific intestinal disorders, according to Scientific American.
“There is no evidence to suggest that people with normal gastrointestinal tracts can benefit from taking Probiotics,” says Matthew Ciorba, a gastroenterologist at Washington University in St. Louis.
The hype of Probiotics has more than quadrupled between 2007 and 2012, from 865,000 people to nearly four million consuming these products that now come in all sorts of foods such as capsules and pills, fruit juices, cereals, sausages, cookies, candy, granola bars and pet food.
Our bodies currently host 39 trillion bacteria, which reside in the large intestine. Researchers have established that these commensal microbes are essential for health, they crowd out harmful microbial invaders, break down fibrous foods into more digestible components and produce vitamins such as K and B12. The people making the Probiotics to sell, a market that is well over $35 billion a year, are essentially growing specific bacteria that they know how to grow in large numbers. These bacteria are not necessarily adapted to the human gut or known to improve health. “The particular strains of Bifidobacterium or Lactobacillus that are typically found in many yogurts and pills may not be the same kind that can survive the highly acidic environment of the human stomach and from there colonize the gut.”
The people who do benefit from Probiotics are those that are currently on antibiotics, helping with the side effects. “Whenever physicians prescribe these medications, they know they stand a good chance of annihilating entire communities of beneficial bacteria in the intestine, along with whatever problem-causing microbes they are trying to dispel.” Probiotics are also helpful to preterm infants, reducing the likelihood of developing necrotizing enterocolitis (a devastating fatal gut disease), they are also helpful for people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (a chronic disease characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, and frequent diarrhea or constipation), helping to relive the symptoms.