A reporter at online magazine The Daily Beast is experiencing probiotic fatigue. In an article titled “Your Probiotic Is Probably B.S.”, Carrie Arnold writes:
“Probiotics are having a moment. Though the good gut bugs are likely beneficial for some, companies are using the label to rip off consumers.”
Probiotics are hopefully having more than a moment but it is true that attention in the form of scientific research as well as general media articles has soared in the last decade.
The article points to positive results with probiotics in several key areas:
- necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in preterm infants which is a potentially deadly gastrointestinal disorder.
- replenishing the microbiome after antibiotic use
And the article points out the strain and dose of the bacteria will determine usefulness in any particular situation or individual—a matchup that can prove elusive in these heady early days of probiotic research.
True enough. With more than 1000 species as umbrellas, strains are seemingly countless.
And yes, we do know little when you look at the big picture. But microbiologists are learning quickly. And a healthy microbiome is essential to preserve optimum functioning far beyond the gut. New research points to possible changes in blood lipids, fat storage, inflammation, glucose management, and the list goes on. It may eventually be easier to point out where bacteria don’t matter.
And while bacteria of the probiotic kinds are proving wildly successful in fecal transplants, to characterize them as “B.S’ is hardly factual.
Read the story alternately named “The Great Probiotic Swindle” in the sidebar. The reporting is fair enough but the headline(s) may suffer from the same marketing hype indicted by the author in the probiotic marketplace.