Helping you to separate fact from fiction in the micro-flora ‘jungle’.
What are they?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) a probiotic is defined as: “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.” We can source probiotics from yoghurt and fermented foods to some degree, but often, much larger quantities of strain identified micro-organisms are supplied via probiotic supplements in order to achieve desired outcomes.
What do they do?
There is mounting evidence that taking care of our gut, and ensuring a healthy gastro-intestinal bacterial balance, may influence many areas of our health ranging from: easing pain and discomfort in the digestive system, to influencing immunity and even improving mood and brain function.
What goes wrong?
Unfortunately, this delicate balance of micro-flora can easily be disrupted by aspects of modern life such as excessive stress, lack of exercise, anti-biotic use, poor diet choices and even whether you were born via caesarian section or not! Often, we need a bit of help to restore this balance.
But it’s a jungle out there! Open any health magazine, walk into any health shop, and you will be bombarded with information on gut health or probiotic products. How do we separate fact from fiction, truth from clever marketing, and ensure we get the best value for our money?
Let’s give you some handles to separating FACT from FICTION when it comes to choosing a probiotic supplement.
(Adapted from: Metagenics UltraFlora fact sheet: ‘Help Maximize Your Micro-biome with UltraFlora probiotics)
FICTION: All probiotic strains are created equal.
FACT: Only a handful of probiotic strains have been clinically shown to support human health.
FICTION: Better quality probiotics don’t require temperature-controlled environments.
FACT: Even well-designed probiotics can be reduced in potency and efficacy if handled carelessly or exposed to heat during shipping or storage.
FICTION: The higher the potency of a probiotic, the better the results.
FACT: The potency or dosage should be based on published scientific and clinical data on specific stains.
FICTION: Guaranteed potency at the time of production and expiration is the same thing.
FACT: Only products that guarantee potency at expiration assure reliable dosing from start to finish.
Probiotics have the potential to influence our health positively in many powerful ways. However, these benefits are due to specific strains that have been shown scientifically to influence specific health conditions. Ensuring that the product you are taking contains scientifically validated strains, that have been properly manufactured under the right conditions, and are viable up to the date of expiry, will help you achieve the results you are looking for.