Probiotics are having a moment. They’re touted as the next big superstar in disease prevention and in treatment for ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome, gestational diabetes, allergies and obesity. Fans claim that these “good” bacteria will nourish your gut microbiome and crowd out the “bad” microbes. As a result, you’ll experience better digestion, a healthier immune system and a sunnier mood.
Scientists and physicians are optimistic about the future of “good” microbes. Many probiotic and microbial-based compounds are moving to the next stages of research and clinical trials. Researchers hope this will illuminate how gut microorganisms interact with specific diseases and medical conditions, yielding more-targeted and therapeutic probiotics. “We’ll see a new wave of probiotics coming out that can be used to treat disease” in the coming years, Kashyap predicts.
Until then, it’s anyone’s guess whether taking a daily dose of bacteria will help you.
Because probiotics are sold as food and dietary supplements, they aren’t subject to the same regulation that the Food and Drug Administration exercises over drugs. (Supplements don’t have to prove their effectiveness before being sold, though the FDA can intervene if problems are found once they are sold.) That means the products may not actually contain live bacteria or even the type and number of bacterial strains promised on the packaging.
“There’s no way to confirm what is listed on the box is what is in the box, that it’s safe and useful, and that it will help you,” Kashyap says. For example, an examination of 16 probiotic products in 2015 found that only one contained the bacterial strain listed on the label of every tested sample.
“Right now, we can’t predict who’s going to feel better and who’s not,” Kashyap says. Some people don’t feel any different when taking the supplement, while others say it’s made them healthier. read more...