What probiotics really work?

What probiotics really work?

Probiotics are attributed to a variety of, sometimes directly magical properties: it is believed that they increase immunity, relieve allergies, depression, diabetes, migraines and even Alzheimer’s disease. “Useful bacteria” are now found not only in natural sources – yogurt, fermented foods like kimchi and miso. They are enriched with everything – from bottled water to chips.

However, the positive effect of probiotics on the body is not proven. According to Robert Khatkins, Ph.D. and scientist at the Nebraska Food for Health Center in Lincoln, to date, scientists have identified only a few hundred strains of probiotics from the billion that help in the treatment of certain diseases. They are known to be effective in digestive disorders such as diarrhea, constipation and reflux. And it is not yet clear whether probiotics have a significant effect on the microflora of healthy people. Because of this, for example, in the countries of the European Union it is forbidden to use the labeling “probiotic”. There are only two approved formulations: “living yogurt cultures” and “improving the absorption of lactose”.

What you need to know about probiotics

1.They do not stay in the body for a long time.

Probiotics do not take root in the gut ecosystem. They can displace pathogenic bacteria, for example with infectious diarrhea, but then simply exit the body. Therefore, if you want to achieve a therapeutic effect, probiotics should be taken regularly.

2. Not the fact that you will get the best of the best

Many types of probiotics are selected for production in the form of tablets, because they are guaranteed to be safe, cheap and suitable for everyone. They will not affect health, but they will not cure.

3. Look for Probiotics That You Need

Make sure that the bacteria you choose is really aimed at fixing your problems. Some, for example, Lactobacillus, have many forms, including Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus reuteri, and they have different effects. To make the drug as effective as possible, it includes as many strains as possible – up to 1 billion probiotics can be contained in one tablet.

4. Probiotics deteriorate quickly and lose their benefits

Remember the expiration date: even if there are a billion probiotics in the composition, expired ones are completely useless. Probiotics are living organisms; they cannot tolerate high temperatures and long shelf life. If the manufacturer advises storing them in the refrigerator, do so.

5. Gastric juice is destructive

Some strains do not survive in the body due to the acidity of the stomach. Make sure that the tablets are coated – it will allow the probiotic to reach the intestines without damage. If there is no shell, take the pill with meals.

6. There is no universal probiotic

Even with diarrhea caused by taking antibiotics, “seven people can take the same probiotic, but only one can clearly feel its effect,” says gastroenterologist Matthew Chobra, MD, who studies the intestinal microflora at the University of Washington Medical School in St. Louis. The microbial composition of each person is as unique as fingerprints. Therefore, scientists are looking for ways of an individual approach.

7. Probiotics need a prebiotic

Bacteria in your gut also need to be fed. So include in the diet prebiotics that contribute to the growth of a healthy microbiota. It is recommended to take prebiotics daily, it is easiest to get them from food: for example, whole grain oatmeal, oatmeal, apples, onions and walnuts.

Which probiotic to choose

For the digestive system

Lactobacillus acidophilus – help with diarrhea due to taking antibiotics and irritable bowel syndrome. Contained in some types of yogurt, kefir, pace and kimchi.

For the female reproductive system

Lactobacillus reuteri and Lactobacillus rhamnosus – slow the development and prevent the re-emergence of thrush and bacterial vaginosis. Not found in food, only in food additives.

For immunity

Lactobacillus plantarum – found in most fermented foods (kefir, yogurt, cheeses, pickles, soy sauce and vinegar).

Lactobacillus paracasei – Presumably prevent the development of viruses and weaken the first symptoms of a cold. It should be taken at the first sign of a disease. Contained in yogurt, kefir and special nutritional supplements.

The future of probiotics

A group of scientists from Ireland, the UK and Finland studied microorganisms in the digestive tract that affect mental health. Initial tests show that an increase in the number of microorganisms in the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum can alleviate depression, anxiety, and stress. If future research confirms this, psychotherapists will one day be able to prescribe probiotics along with antidepressants.

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