probiotic

Catching Up With the Hype Over Probiotics

Friday, April 18, 2008 by: Mary Sichi
Tags: probiotics, health news, Natural News

eTrust Pro Certified

Most Viewed Articles
Popular on Facebook
The five biggest lies about Ebola being pushed by government and mass media
White House admits staging fake vaccination operation to gather DNA from the public
Why does the CDC own a patent on Ebola 'invention?'
Ultraviolet light robot kills Ebola in two minutes; why doesn't every hospital have one of these?
EXCLUSIVE: Natural News tests flu vaccine for heavy metals, finds 25,000 times higher mercury level than EPA limit for water
Irrefutable proof we are all being sprayed with poison: 571 tons of toxic lead 'chemtrailed' into America's skies every year
Truvia sweetener a powerful pesticide; scientists shocked as fruit flies die in less than a week from eating GMO-derived erythritol
Russia taking McDonald's to court, threatens countrywide shutdown
Oregon man serving prison sentence for collecting rainwater on his own property
The best way to help your body protect itself against Ebola (or any virus or bacteria)
Senator who attacked Doctor Oz over dietary supplements received over $146,000 in campaign contributions from Big Pharma mega-retailer and Monsanto
Global warming data FAKED by government to fit climate change fictions
Healthy 12-year-old girl dies shortly after receiving HPV vaccine
Ebola outbreak may already be uncontrollable; Monsanto invests in Ebola treatment drug company as pandemic spreads
HOAX confirmed: Michelle Obama 'GMOs for children' campaign a parody of modern agricultural politics
Ben & Jerry's switches to non-GMO, Fair Trade ice cream ingredients
W.H.O. contradicts CDC, admits Ebola can spread via coughing, sneezing and by touching contaminated surfaces
Elliot Rodger, like nearly all young killers, was taking psychiatric drugs (Xanax)
Delicious
(NaturalNews) This year alone, over 150 new probiotic and prebiotic food products have hit the market, more than three times the number that were introduced just a few years ago in 2005. To help understand this trend, and to make smart choices with your nutrition dollar, it is necessary to understand these substances and the claims being made about them. This article will focus on probiotics (a word so new that my Word 2003 spellchecker does not recognize it).

Probiotics are live microorganisms, usually bacteria, that are similar to the helpful microorganisms naturally occurring in the human gut. (Prebiotics are essentially food for the helpful bacteria.) Probiotics can be found in foods such as yogurt, milk, miso, tempeh, and some juices and soy beverages. They are also available as dietary supplements in the form of capsules, tablets, and powders. They are claimed to promote a healthy immune system, to help to promote regularity, to help maintain healthy colon cells, and to help manufacture vitamins such as B and K, to name a few of the most common marketed health benefits linked to their use.

Recently, these tiny critters have made the leap from health food store to mainstream supermarket shelves. From 1994 to 2003, spending on probiotic supplements in America has tripled. Sales of probiotic foods and supplements are projected to reach $1 billion by 2010.

But what exactly is contained in the products labeled probiotic and do these products live up to the claims being made about them by manufacturers? According to the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization, probiotics are "live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host." But how much is an "adequate" amount, and what specific health benefits can they confer? While there is limited evidence from a few studies supporting some uses of probiotics, more research is needed. What has and hasn't been concluded concerning the health benefits of probiotics?

First of all, what we know:

Millions of helpful bacteria live in the intestinal tract. These "good" bacteria are necessary for the proper development of the immune system (breastfed infants have large amounts of these good bacteria, and consequently, protection against many diseases). They are also necessary for the digestion and absorption of food and nutrients, and to protect against the "bad bugs" that can cause disease.

Disease-causing bacteria, yeasts, fungi, and parasites can upset the healthy balance of microorganisms in the gut, as can antibiotics because they kill good as well as bad bacteria indiscriminately (as the name implies). Problems that may arise from this imbalance include diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, H. pylori infection, tooth decay, vaginal infections, stomach and respiratory infections in children, and skin infections.

Most probiotics come from one of two groups of bacteria: Lactobacillus (found in the small intestine) and Bifidobacterium (found in the large intestine).

Secondly, what does the research say?

Conclusions of various conferences since 2005:

* Specific benefits are linked to certain species and even specific strains of species of probiotics.

* Large quantities of living bacteria are most likely necessary to effect real health benefits.

Encouraging evidence was found for the potential of specific probiotic formulations to treat diarrhea, urinary tract infections, and irritable bowel syndrome, to reduce the recurrence of bladder cancer and to prevent and manage atopic dermatitis in children. (Unfortunately, my source does not list the specific formulations, but the article and its references can be found at the National Institutes of Health site listed below.)

In studies of probiotics as cures, beneficial effects were usually low, and a strong placebo effect was often observed.

Some specific findings:

* Results from a Canadian study suggested that fermented milk containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus caseii may help prevent antibiotic-related diarrhea.

* A study from Finland found that an oat drink containing Bifidobacterium lactis bacteria improved bowel function in nursing home residents.

Most side effects, when observed, were mild and digestive in nature. However, more information is needed on the safety of probiotics for young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.

Studies are currently being conducted to determine:

* whether fermented milk containing lactic acid bacteria might reduce cancer-causing substances in the intestine

* whether probiotic supplements can treat allergy-induced skin rash in babies

* whether probiotics can improve complications of liver disease

Lastly, what does this mean for you the consumer?

Be wary of products that don't specify how much or what type of bacteria.

Verify that the type of probiotic being purchased has shown evidence of efficacy for the particular symptom or condition being treated.

Always consult your healthcare provider if you are thinking about using probiotics, and be sure to contact your healthcare provider if you experience an effect that concerns you while using probiotics.

There appears to be great potential for probiotics as a natural form of prevention and possibly treatment of a wide variety of symptoms and disorders. But as the science catches up with the marketing hype, consumers should arm themselves with reliable knowledge as they walk the aisles of health food stores or the local supermarket and peruse the labels of the increasing number of products labeled probiotic.

More information and the sources used for this article are available through the following links:

National Institutes of Health: (nccam.nih.gov/health/probiotics/)

PubMed: (nccam.nih.gov/camonpubmed)

International Bibliographic Information on Dietary Supplements (IBIDS): (www.ods.od.nih.gov/Health_Information/IBIDS_...)

(http:/www.signonsandiego.com/news/health/20071209-...)

About the author

Mary Sichi is a research analyst in the field of psychological testing, and is currently considering making the leap from pescetarian to vegetarian, motivated by what she learned while researching this article.

Join over four million monthly readers. Your privacy is protected. Unsubscribe at any time.
comments powered by Disqus
Take Action: Support NaturalNews.com by linking back to this article from your website

Permalink to this article:

Embed article link: (copy HTML code below):

Reprinting this article:
Non-commercial use OK, cite NaturalNews.com with clickable link.

Follow Natural News on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Pinterest

Colloidal Silver

Advertise with NaturalNews...

Support NaturalNews Sponsors:

Advertise with NaturalNews...

GET SHOW DETAILS
+ a FREE GIFT

Sign up for the FREE Natural News Email Newsletter

Receive breaking news on GMOs, vaccines, fluoride, radiation protection, natural cures, food safety alerts and interviews with the world's top experts on natural health and more.

Join over 7 million monthly readers of NaturalNews.com, the internet's No. 1 natural health news site. (Source: Alexa.com)

Your email address *

Please enter the code you see above*

No Thanks

Already have it and love it!

Natural News supports and helps fund these organizations:

* Required. Once you click submit, we will send you an email asking you to confirm your free registration. Your privacy is assured and your information is kept confidential. You may unsubscribe at anytime.