With the increasing awareness of the health benefits of probiotics, a number of myths have been circulating. Here are seven probiotic myths debunked with facts.
While it’s true that many fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, etc. can be good sources of probiotic bacteria, not all of them are effective alternatives to supplements. They may have the wrong types of bacteria, or those bacteria may not survive digestion long enough to provide any lasting benefit.
For instance, while some types of yogurt are excellent sources of probiotics, others are often lacking. This is because the kinds of bacteria used to ferment milk into yogurt aren’t always suited to the human digestive system, meaning they may die off before reaching the gut. The pasteurization process may also negatively affect certain types of beneficial bacteria, making these yogurts less effective when it comes to improving your gut health.
Probiotic myth number two is that probiotic supplements are only necessary if you’re experiencing gut-related health problems. Given that people are exposed to toxic chemicals every day, this simply isn’t true. The average American diet consists of highly processed foods that imbalance the gut microbiome, and that imbalance may not always be immediately noticeable.
Odds are, the ratio of good to bad bacteria in your gut is likely negatively affected by your diet. Research shows that probiotics are “crucial for the maintenance of balance of human intestinal microbiota,” so it’s important to make sure you have a good balance, even if you currently feel well.
Yet another common myth is that probiotics are ineffective if you’re currently taking antibiotics. However, it’s actually the opposite—probiotic supplements may be more important than ever when you’re on antibiotic treatments. This is because antibiotics kill off good bacteria alongside harmful ones, leading to a depleted gut microbiome that needs to be replenished.
What’s more, probiotics have actually been shown to counteract some of the negative effects of antibiotic treatment. For instance, one study found that the probiotic strain Lactobacillus GG reduced the incidence of antibiotic-related diarrhea in children, showing its potential as an effective way to counteract some of the negative side effects of these treatments.
Many high quality probiotic supplements have numerous strains of bacteria, and that can be a good thing. However, more bacteria doesn’t always mean it’s better. Not all bacterial strains are useful for the human digestive system, so it’s more important to choose supplements that have the types of probiotics your body needs. In addition, the quality of the supplement may depend on other factors as well, such as the production process and the types of additives included.
While it’s true that your body may need time to adjust to increasing levels of probiotics in your gut, the idea that they’ll become less effective over time is based on a misconception of what these supplements actually are. Probiotics aren’t medications, and as such, your body isn’t going to build up some kind of resistance to them. They’re microbes that are supposed to be in your body’s digestive system, and they’re integral to supporting gut health. As such, it’s really hard to overdose on probiotics.
If you’re lacking sufficient probiotics in your gut, it’s true that prebiotics—substances such as dietary fiber that feed beneficial bacteria—can be beneficial. However, it’s much slower than using probiotics, and it may even be insufficient if your gut is too far off balance.
The presence of too many harmful bacteria can make it far more difficult to rebalance your gut’s microbiome with prebiotics alone. Introducing probiotics can help combat harmful bacteria strains and get your gut health back into proper balance quicker.
Additionally, probiotics and prebiotics together are far more effective than either one in isolation. Studies have shown that prebiotics synergize with probiotics to achieve a far greater effect than either could achieve on their own.
Finally, there’s an assumption that all probiotics are the same. The truth is there are countless different strains of probiotics, and numerous ways of packaging them as supplements. The best probiotics supplements are:
Dr. Ohhira’s probiotics fulfill all these requirements, making them some of the best supplements on the market. To learn more about probiotics that are optimized for your gut health, contact Essential Formulas.