Some probiotics reviews suggest that buying probiotics products is not the best way to gain the benefits of healthy gut bacteria.
The general public spends a huge amount of money on probiotic products every year in the UK and most other countries in the developed world.
Manufacturers such as Yakult and Danone mantain that their research has shown general health benefits for users of their probiotic products which are often sold as small bottles of a milky drink or added to yoghurts.
Probiotics contain bacteria supposed to benefit our health by increasing the beneficial types of bacteria that exist in the gut. The intestines are full of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other organisms and are Vital to our wellbeing. They help us to absorb nutrients from food, metabolise drugs and bolster our immune systems.
However the gut bacteria are unique to every individual and the bacteria contained in probiotic products may not suit everyone.
Probiotics seek to boost the good bacteria in our intestines and although the concept has been around for a long time published research is thin on the ground
Conclusive proof would require evidence that live bacteria from probiotic products
a. survive the acid environment of the stomach
b. inhabit the gut and thrive there
c. show actual improvements in health for a large percentage of the population
Probiotic reviews by the manufacturers claim these benefits but they have been called into question by the European Food Safety Authority.
Surgeon James Kinross at Imperial College London has found that the bacteria does indeed survive the journey through the stomach and grow in the gut but only so long as the products are taken. As soon as a consumer stops taking them they are flushed from the system.
He believes they can be effective for people suffering specific conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and infective diarrhoea but there is little evidence of a general benefit for a normally healthy person.
Dr Chris van Tullekan and Dr Karen Scott, who works at the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen, investigated whether it is possible to boost the presence of healthy gut bacteria by following a specific diet. After putting Chris on a diet of 100g of oats a day for four weeks, Dr Scott was able to show from stool analysis that the balance of bacteria was changed in favour of the more beneficial types.
These bacteria produce chemicals which benefit the heart and gut linings. The bacteria in the lower intestine are able to process the fibre in the oats which enables them to thrive.
An additional benefit is derived from a soluble fibre in oats, known as beta glucan, which helps to reduce cholesterol in the bloodstream.
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