You no doubt read the breathless headlines. And you saw the news stories.
Perhaps even your well-meaning friend cornered you to tell you gleefully, “Probiotics are useless!”
You see, a new study had revealed “the truth,” that probiotics don’t work.
We’d all been hoodwinked it appeared. And we might as well just toss our probiotics in the trash.
Well, it’s true; we have been duped all right.
But it wasn’t into trusting probiotics. It was buying into this FAKE NEWS.
Because the REAL truth is this study has holes so big in it you could drive a Mack truck straight through them.
Bogus probiotics study has MAJOR holes
If you missed the details on this headline-grabbing hit job, don’t worry. I’ve read the study for you. And frankly, it’s bogus.
It claims to prove that taking a probiotic after a course of antibiotics isn’t just useless. According to the researchers taking a gut bug supplement will delay your gut flora recovery even longer than if you had skipped taking it.
The trouble is the study—and the reporting on it—missed the mark in three MAJOR ways:
- It’s ONE study. When compared to hundreds of others studies which show the many benefits probiotics have for gut health it’s insignificant.
- It was poorly designed. Researchers gave volunteers just a SINGLE dose of probiotics. So naturally, they wouldn’t see any significant impact on their gut flora.
- The probiotics weren’t targeted. Gut flora is as unique to each individual as a fingerprint. No one’s mix of gut bugs is the same, which means giving the same generic probiotics to everyone is a set up for failure.
So, what’s the truth behind the hit job?
Trust the science. A growing stack of studies proves probiotics DO work when used properly. The key? Don’t just grab a random supplement off the shelf and hope it’s the right one for you.
Instead, look at the ingredients label to be sure you’re on the right track. Because when you choose a probiotic matched to your individual needs, there’s a much better chance it will work for you.
And be prepared to try more the one if you aren’t getting the results you want.
How to read a probiotic label
So you’re probably wondering what you’re supposed to be looking for on that label… right? Well, don’t worry it’s easier than as it sounds.
You want to choose a probiotic that has plenty of colony forming units or CFUs. This is a measure of how many of the good bugs are in the supplement. If it’s less than 3 BILLION total CFUs put it back on the shelf.
Now look for a “live through” or expiration date on the bottle. Probiotics need to be alive to do you any good. If it’s old, or about to expire, put it back.
Next, you’re going to want to look at the name. Probiotics generally have two of them, like a first and last name.
The first is likely going to be Lactobacillus (L.) or Bifidobacterium (B.). These are the two main types of probiotic. For best results, you generally want to choose one that has a mix of both.
The second is the strain. This is the word following the L. or the B., and it’s probably in Latin. And it’s where the targeting comes into play.
Because while you want a good mix of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium to avoid making the mistake the researchers made, you’ll also want to pay attention to the strain.
Targeting your needs with the RIGHT strain
Multi-strain formulas are a good idea so you get a variety of good bugs. But if you have specific health issues you’re trying to address you’ll want to look that certain strains are included.
Heart support: Several studies, including a meta-analysis of 14 studies and more than 600 volunteers, have found the right probiotics can help protect your cardiovascular system. Look for L. acidophilus, B. longum, and L. reuteri.
Immune building: More than 70 percent of our immune system is in the gut which means keeping your gut bugs balanced is vital for overall immune health. In a study out of the University of Florida, a combination of L. gasseri, B. bifidum, and B. longum boosted the immune health of volunteers.
The probiotic maintained white blood cell counts (one of the body’s main types of immune cells) while decreasing systemic inflammation. In the end, the seniors’ gut flora more closely resembled that of younger people.
Mood-boosting: The right probiotics can even help give you a mood boost. Your gut and your brain are directly linked. And that means what’s happening in your belly can have a big impact on your emotional health. A study published in the journal Nutrition found that L. acidophilus, L. casei, and B. bifidum could help ease depression and anxiety.
Bone-strengthening: Probiotics could help you fight bone loss too. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial volunteers received either the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri 6475 or a placebo. By the end of the year, the folks who received the probiotic had 50 percent less bone loss than the group who took the placebo.
Weight support: Several studies have found certain probiotic strains could help us whittle down our belly fat and lose weight. Look for Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus gasseri, Lactobacillus paracasei, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus.
Antibiotic recovery: Despite those recent headlines, taking a probiotic after a course of antibiotics is a good idea. Other research has shown they can help restore gut balance and get back on your feet. Look for B. longum, B. breve, and L. bulgaricus on the label.
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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