Probiotics: are they useful?
Ashley Sneed (5 PM Micro) is worried about the things we eat. Here is her warning about whether probiotics are all they are cracked up to be. Here is what Ashley has to say, which she found via the Everyday Health website:
As we’ve learned in class, normal/resident microbiota are bacteria that are constantly present in our bodies and share a mutualistic relationship with it. Over the years, some scientists have been promoting good health by adding these normal microbiota to foods like yogurt or producing them through dietary supplements, deeming the foods “probiotics.” What probiotic really means is that within the food, digestible microorganisms exist. Theses microorganisms include bacteria, yeasts and even viruses that are believed to help improve health, boost the immune system, fight against disease and aid in the digestive process. It has even been suggested that probiotics aid in treating diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, bladder cancer, urinary and intestinal tract infections and eczema. However, researchers have been challenging the claims made by companies producing probiotic products as to whether they really do all of these things.
In a recent study published in Science Translational Medicine, researchers found that adding microorganisms to yogurt may not serve as the health benefit probiotic yogurts were thought to. Co-author of the study, Dr. Jeffery Gordon, suggested that adding billions of microorganisms where trillions are already found influences the metabolism of food ingredients, rather than the physical environment within the body, as well as aid against fighting disease. In the four-month study, human twins, as well as mice, were fed probiotic yogurt. Researchers studied the gut before and after consumption, as well as behavioral patterns. The researchers concluded that the bacteria in the probiotic yogurt did not become a part of the normal microbiota, for the body’s composition of the normal microbiota remained nearly the same before and after the mice or twins ate the yogurt.
What researchers did find through urine analysis, was a higher presence of metabolic enzyme activity. The enzymes in the urine were found to aid in the breakdown of carbohydrates, but more research needs to be conducted in order to confirm this as the main effect of probiotic intake. What is most important about this study is that researchers were able to come up with a new and successful way to test the effects of probiotics on the body. This will lead to more research as well as a breakthrough on the real effect of probiotics on the body. According to microbiologist Justin Sonnenburg, the study has been called “interesting, subtle and incredibly well designed.”
So what do probiotics really do? It seems that probiotics have a bigger effect on the function of the gut, rather than its composition. It has been found that the structure of the bacteria consumed through probiotics seems to remain the same, what changes is how they work. Although it appears that microorganisms in probiotics can make your gut work more efficiently, researchers are unable to say whether probiotics are actually good or bad for you. Perhaps next time, you should think twice about your reasons for buying probiotic products.
Note added by Singleton: For bonus (1 raised quiz grade), what are examples of foods, besides yogurt, that are termed ‘probiotic?’ One entry per customer, and by November 11.
Another note added by Singleton: anything added to the thread below must be new; there are several ‘repeats’ in the comments, so please read what other people have put.