Research continues to uncover the importance of gut health and its role in our overall wellness, probiotic health products are garnering more and more hype.
Just how much hype? Probiotics have become an industry in itself – one that’s expected to generate $66-billion in global revenue by 2024, as gut bacteria connects to more health topics from depression to obesity to migraines.
Probiotics carry the promise of replenishing gut microbiome with “good bacteria” when it’s thrown off-balance. Most experts do agree probiotics can improve overall health, clinical proof isn’t so easy to come by.
A recent study actually brought that very question to light. The research, published in the journal Cell by Eran Elinav from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Tel Aviv, found that 50 percent of healthy people who took probiotics had them pass through their gut microbiome without it colonizing.
In other words, they just passed right through the stomach and were pooped out.
The same study also questioned another of the highly-touted effects of probiotics – their ability to recalibrate gut bacteria after a course of antibiotics.
So, does this mean all the hype is overblown?
Brett Finlay, a microbiologist at the University of British Columbia and co-author of the recently released book The Whole-Body Microbiome, says there’s still much to learn and study about which probiotics can be effective, and why.
“The bottom line is that some probiotics work, for some things, at some times, for some people,” he says.
“There are several clinical studies that show that certain probiotics work post-antibiotic, especially [when the patient has had] diarrhea.” Finlay says.
What’s also clear is that “probiotics seem to work differently in different people, which makes sense given microbiome diversity.”
If you want to learn which probiotics may have the best chance of improving your microbiome, Finlay suggests the website probioticchart.ca, which lists all the probiotics on the market and rates them according to clinical evidence for treating certain conditions. It’s no different than researching a material good before purchase.
“In any running shoe store, there are day-to-day sneakers, joggers, squash court shoes, bike shoes—they’re not all the same. They work for different things. And I think you have to apply the same concept to probiotics.”
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