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09 Sep 2018
Two recent studies1,2 conducted in Israel have people questioning the performance of probiotic drinks and supplements. Deemed ‘quite useless’ in the papers, you could say the results didn’t exactly swing in favour of probiotics. We decided to look into these findings to give you the full story.
Research journal Cell recently published two studies by the same institute investigating how probiotics interact with our gut microbiome with and without antibiotics. Familiarise yourself with the basics of the gut microbiome by reading: The microbiome - all you need to know on the Probiotics Learning Lab site.
Here’s the breakdown:
The news took the findings of these studies to mean that one size doesn’t fit all and probiotics may need to be personalised to suit an individual, therefore implying they may be useless to the majority. Also, they said that taking probiotics after a course of antibiotics ‘may be harmful’ and can 'cause severe disturbances’ to gut health. However, there are some issues with the studies that may have rendered their guilty verdict on probiotics a little premature:
Let us be clear - we’re fascinated by some of the results from these trials, and always consider any new probiotics research that comes to light. However, in order to get the truth about probiotics, we need to ask the right questions. Is it important to look at how probiotics colonise in the gut, or is it more important to explore what they’re doing and if they are effective once they’re there? We know for a fact that probiotics can be beneficial in certain cases, though as the study suggests they are definitely not a 'cure-all' solution.
The microbiome is incredibly complex, so much so that some now consider it an organ in its own right, so it's very interesting to look at how it interacts with probiotics. But, what can you take away from all of this information? Well, there's more to probiotics than these studies suggest; as such it's always a good idea to acquaint yourself with all the facts - and for that, we're here to help!
You may also like to read the following articles on the Probiotics Learning Lab site:
1. Zmora, N., et al. (2018). 'Personalized Gut Mucosal Colonization Resistance to Empiric Probiotics Is Associated with Unique Host and Microbiome Features'. Cell, 174(6): 1388-1405
2. Suez, J., et al. (2018). 'Post-Antibiotic Gut Mucosal Microbiome Reconstitution Is Impaired by Probiotics and Improved by Autologous FMT'. Cell, 174(6): 1406-1423