Probiotics Issues to Keep in Mind

So many probiotic supplements are currently available on the market, and it is natural to feel confused when you decide to include one in your diet. The concept of including good bacteria in your diet has become quite popular in the recent years, as people think it is the simplest way to improve digestion and support their immune system. The global probiotics dietary supplements demand was $3.3 billion, and is estimated to reach $7.0 billion by 2025.

While some scientific evidence is there to support the use of probiotic supplements, you still need to learn how to differentiate between the reality and the hype. Here are some important issues related to probiotics that you should bear in mind before you put your money on a probiotic supplement.

Strain Diversity

Probiotics Strain DiversityMany people do not understand that the efficacy of a probiotic supplement depends heavily on the diversity of strains it contains. Certain strains are suitable for certain ailments and diseases. Some strains are more suitable for a woman’s body, while others may be more beneficial for men. Two of the most commonly used strains are bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. There are other strains too. For instance:

  • An analysis on probiotics indicates that they may be helpful in treating ulcerative colitis. Another study showed that probiotics such as L. d. bulgaricus is helpful in managing other forms of IBD, including Crohn’s disease. However, more research is needed.

Similarly, another study has found the same. For instance:

  • An increase in girth (distension) resulting from bloating in individuals with IBS and
    constipation have been supplemented a fermented dairy product containing Bifidobacterium lactis DN- 173 010. The aim was to accelerate their gastrointestinal transit and improve symptoms of IBS patients with constipation. A 4-week long randomised controlled study have resulted in a significant reduction in patient’s distension and improvements in colonic transit.

Not Regulated as Drugs

One of the most common issues associated with probiotics is that they are not like drugs, so supplement manufacturers do not need any FDA approval to introduce any new supplement in the market. It means that these supplements do not undergo rigorous testing, which is why there is always a high risk of buying something that is completely useless or may well be harmful.

Interestingly, supplement manufacturers cannot make any disease-related claims without the approval from the FDA, but they have found marketing language to promote their supplements. For instance, many probiotics talk about “improving digestive health” in an effective way. They do not claim to treat any digestive ailment, but they use generic terms to make you believe that probiotics are the answer to all your digestive concerns.

Possible Side Effects

Although probiotics are supposed to help improve your digestive system, it is possible to develop several side effects when you first incorporate a probiotic supplement into your routine. Some of the most common side effects are gas and bloating.

It is worth mentioning that most customer reviews suggest that side effects associated with these supplements usually go away in a few days; however, it may take longer for some people to recover from the first bout of side effects.

Not Suitable for Everyone

Probiotics Group of PeopleWhether you talk about healthy bacteria from food or probiotic supplements, you need to understand that they are not suitable or safe for everyone. How your body reacts to billions of healthy bacteria you consume through supplements is different for every person.

Even though there is encouraging scientific evidence to support the use of probiotics, you may want to avoid these supplements if you have a weak immune system because of an underlying medical condition. People who have undergone organ transplants should avoid probiotics. It is a good idea to avoid probiotics when you have central IV lines because of a serious illness.

Misleading Product Labels

Yet another issue with probiotics is that they may not contain what they claim. In many cases, you only get information about the organism’s genus as well as species, but you may not get any information regarding the microbe count. Many probiotic supplements use proprietary blends and share no information regarding the total CFUs available per serving.

  • At least seven studies have found discrepancies between what’s on the label and what’s in the product, especially in products containing multiple bacterial strains. A 2015 analysis of 16 probiotic products, for example, found that only one of 16 exactly matched the bacterial species claims on the label in every sample tested.

It means that if you are wondering why you have not experienced any benefits even after taking your probiotic supplement for several weeks, it could be because it does not contain enough probiotic strains or CFUs to start with. Moreover, you need to ensure that the label does not contain any harmful ingredients. The label should also tell you about any potential irritant it may contain. Many supplements do not offer clear information on the label and it is better to avoid such products.

A Little Too Expensive

As compared to healthy bacteria you get through food, taking probiotic supplement may be an expensive proposition. In many cases, high quality probiotic supplements cost you more than $1 for a daily dose. It is worth mentioning that when it comes to probiotic supplements, the price tag does not always reflect the quality of the supplement.

The Importance of CFUs

Probiotics CFU Colony Forming UnitCFU stands for Colony Forming Unit, which refers to the number of healthy bacteria found in a probiotic supplement. Some supplements do not provide information regarding the CFUs it has, and that can be a big issue.

You will have to consider the total CFUs while paying attention to the reasons why you have started taking a probiotic supplement in the first place. As weird as it may sound, there are 100 trillion bacteria in your body and that actually means you have about 5 pounds of bacteria in the body.

It also means that you can certainly afford to take a large dose of certain probiotic strains to achieve desired results.

How much CFUs should be included in your supplement depends on your ultimate goals. If you want to support your digestive health, you may find a supplement with a lower CFU count to be quite effective. For this, you can get good results from a probiotic supplement offering 5-10 billion CFUs. If you are taking probiotics to treat a specific ailment, you will have to increase the dose further. In some cases, you may get good results from 15-45 billion CFUs – you usually need to take this much to treat ailments like eczema, allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and some respiratory illnesses. It is important to talk to your doctor if you want to take probiotics when you have an existing medical condition.

Keeping Probiotics Alive

Another issue associated with probiotic supplements is that they are not going to be effective if the bacteria they contain are not alive and active. Even if you take smaller doses, you need to ensure that you are consuming healthy probiotic strains to experience positive results. In order to keep those probiotics alive longer, be sure to follow any instructions mentioned in the directions. It is better to refrigerate once you have opened the bottle – do not forget to seal the bottle properly after each use.

Final Thoughts

The fact of the matter is that probiotic supplements do have scientific support for use, but these supplements are not going to work for everyone. Different probiotic supplements have different CFU count and they work differently for different individuals.

You may certainly want to try a probiotic supplement to see how it works for you, but be sure to check the label and opt for a supplement with appropriate CFU count. Remember, probiotics are not supposed to help you treat underlying medical conditions – be sure to talk to your doctor when you have a medical condition and want to take a probiotic supplement to avoid any complications.

Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.

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