Page updated at 15. January 2019.
First published on the 12th. June 2018.
There are so many probiotic supplements on the market today, and it’s natural to feel confused when you decide to add one to your diet. The idea of including good bacteria in your diet has become quite popular in recent years, as people believe it is the easiest way to improve digestion and support their immune system. The global demand for probiotic supplements was $3.3 billion and is expected to reach $7 billion by 2025.
While there is some scientific evidence to support the use of probiotic supplements, you still need to learn to distinguish reality from hype. Here are some important points to keep in mind before spending money on probiotic supplements.
Many people do not realize that the effectiveness of a probiotic supplement depends largely on the diversity of the strains it contains. Some strains are adapted to certain diseases and conditions. Some species are more adapted to the female body, while others are more beneficial for men. The two most commonly used strains are bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. There are other tribes too. For example:
- Studies of probiotics show that they may be useful in the treatment of ulcerative colitis. Another study showed that probiotics such as L. d. bulgaricus are useful in the treatment of other forms of IBD, including Crohn’s disease. Nevertheless, further research is needed.
Another study showed the same thing. For example:
- The increase in volume (distention) due to bloating in persons with IBS and constipation
was supplemented by a fermented milk product containing Bifidobacterium lactis DN- 173 010. The goal was to accelerate gastrointestinal transit and improve symptoms in IBS patients with constipation. A 4-week randomized controlled trial demonstrated a significant reduction in patient distention and improvement in colon passage.
Source : https://danone.strauss-group.com/sites/default/files/Agrawal%202009_0.pdf
Not controlled asDrugs
One of the most common problems with probiotics is that they are not comparable to drugs, so supplement manufacturers do not need FDA approval to bring new supplements to market. This means that these supplements are not thoroughly tested, so there is always a high risk that you will buy something that is completely useless or could very well be harmful.
Interestingly, supplement manufacturers are not allowed to make claims about diseases without FDA approval, but they have found marketing language to promote their supplements. For example, many probiotics are effective in improving digestion. They don’t claim to treat any digestive diseases, but they use general terms to make you believe that probiotics are the answer to all your digestive problems.
Possible side effects
Although probiotics are supposed to help improve digestion, you may experience several side effects when you first add a probiotic supplement to your routine. Some of the most common side effects are flatulence and bloating.
It should be noted that most client comments indicate that the side effects of these supplements usually disappear within a few days, but for some people it may take longer to recover from the initial side effects.
Not suitable for all
Whether it is healthy bacteria from the diet or probiotic supplements, you must understand that they are not suitable or safe for everyone. How your body responds to the billions of healthy bacteria you ingest through dietary supplements is different for everyone.
While there is encouraging scientific evidence for the use of probiotics, you should not use these supplements if your immune system is weakened due to an underlying illness. People who have had an organ transplant should avoid probiotics. It is advisable to avoid probiotics if you have central intravenous lines due to a serious illness.
Misleading product labels
Another problem with probiotics is that sometimes they don’t contain what they claim. In many cases you will only get information on the genus and species of the organism, but not necessarily on the number of germs. Many probiotic supplements use proprietary blends and do not provide information on the total number of CFUs available per serving.
- At least seven studies found discrepancies between what was on the label and what was in the product, particularly for products containing multiple strains of bacteria. For example, an analysis of 16 probiotic products in 2015 showed that only one of the 16 samples tested exactly matched the bacterial species on the label.
This means that if you’re wondering why you’re not qualifying even after taking a probiotic supplement for a few weeks, it could be because it doesn’t contain enough probiotic strains or PDUs to begin with. Also, make sure the label does not contain any harmful ingredients. The label should also indicate whether it contains any potentially irritating substances. Many supplements do not have clear information on the label, and it is better to avoid these products.
A bit too expensive
Compared to healthy bacteria from food, it can be expensive to take probiotic supplements. In many cases, high-quality probiotic supplements cost more than $1 per daily dose. It should be noted that with probiotic supplements, the price does not always reflect the quality of the supplement.
Meaning of CFU
CFU stands for Colony Forming Unit, i.e. the number of healthy bacteria in a probiotic preparation. Some add-ons do not provide CFU information, which can be a big problem.
You should consider your total CFU count, keeping in mind the reasons you started taking the probiotic supplement in the first place. As strange as it may seem, you have 100 trillion bacteria in your body, which basically means you have about 1.5 kg of bacteria in your body.
This also means that you can definitely afford to take a higher dose of certain probiotic strains to get the desired results.
The number of PDUs you need to include in your application depends on your end goals. If you want to support your digestion, you can find a supplement with less CFU that will be very effective. You can get good results with a probiotic supplement that offers 5 to 10 billion CFCs for this purpose. If you are taking probiotics to treat a specific condition, you will need to increase the dose further. In some cases, you can get good results with 15 to 45 billion CFU – this is usually needed to treat conditions such as eczema, allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel diseases and some respiratory conditions. It is important to consult with your doctor if you want to take probiotics for an existing illness.
Probiotics for life support
Another problem with probiotic supplements is that they are not effective if the bacteria they contain are not alive and active. Even if you take smaller doses, you need to make sure you are ingesting healthy strains of probiotics to get positive results. To extend the life of these probiotics, follow the instructions provided. After opening the bottle, it is best to store it in the refrigerator – remember to reseal it tightly after each use.
The use of probiotic supplements is scientifically proven, but these supplements do not work for everyone. Different probiotic supplements have different amounts of CFU and work differently depending on the person.
You will probably want to try a probiotic supplement to see how it works for you, but pay attention to the label and choose a supplement with the right amount of CFE. Remember, probiotics are not meant to treat underlying conditions – consult with your doctor if you have a medical condition and want to take a probiotic supplement to avoid complications.
About the Author: Rachel Butler.
Rachel has been with us since we started in 2012.
Rachel has tested countless products over the years and written many articles with sound advice. Their professional opinion is widely respected.
Rachel holds a BSc in Clinical Sciences from the University of Leicester, UK.
She lives in York with her husband and her young daughter and their dog, a small terrier named Betsy.
Disclaimer : Our evaluations and surveys are based on extensive research using information that was publicly available to us and to consumers at the time the report was first published. The information is based on our personal opinion and while we make every effort to keep the information current, manufacturers occasionally make changes to their products and future research may not agree with our conclusions. If you believe that any information is incorrect, please contact us and we will verify the information.
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