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Are Probiotics a Fad?

Posted Mar 04 2011 9:20am

Curious about Probiotics?  I have a guest post about probiotics today from Wendy B! Thanks Wendy!

The concept behind probiotics began with the concept pushed forward by a Russian scientist Eli Metchnikoff in the early 1900s. Based on what he had observed in some rural communities, he arrived at the theory that the live microorganisms in fermented milk could control the toxins produced in the gut by other microorganisms due to the diet. It was not, however, until the 1950s that the term "probiotic bacteria" entered the scene.

Today, many companies, pharmaceutical or naturalistic, aggressively market various probiotics products that the term has become a household word. Available Probiotics These live microorganisms are of different varieties and available in the form of fermented dairy drinks that contain them. The different types of probiotics actually provide different benefits as well as a number of disadvantages. It is a lucrative business such that probiotics can be found not just in pharmacies, and bought over the counter, but also in supermarkets and the like.

Some Advantages Depending on the type of microorganism, one of the benefits of ingesting these probiotics would be controlling the proliferation of harmful organisms in the stomach and intestines. It helps those who are lactose intolerant digest dairy products, lower blood pressure, and aid in preventing cancer of the colon. It also helps with mineral absorption, among other uses. Probiotics have been made to appear like a miracle cure by some advertisers. Some Disadvantages Because each person’s internal environment is different, there have also been a myriad of documented ill effects . Some examples of these adverse reactions are a heightened sensitivity to allergy causing substances, lactobacillus septicemia, and even cause obesity. Scientific Studies Studies regarding this group of substances are quite varied that the lay person is confused as to the veracity of the claims made by the manufacturers. The findings of these studies have something in common though, ingestion of probiotics affect the gastrointestinal tract particularly the gut. Some claims have not been proven either effective or erroneous such as the hypothesis that probiotics replace the naturally occurring microorganisms in the gut once they are killed off. Scientific studies are still in their early stages so many purported therapeutic claims are misleading.

There are benefits but these are the result of the compatibility a person’s current condition is with the type of probiotics ingested. This does not mean that taking in probiotics should be avoided altogether and neither does it imply that these fermented drinks with live organism should be taken in at random. What Can Be Done There is still no substitute for regular checkups and the advice of a good doctor concerning how well one’s system will interact with what is being ingested. There are certain illnesses that may be aggravated by the use of probiotics so a clear history of what has been taken in will help track down health problems that arise. It is not good to be swayed by what is being advertised concerning these products. Careful consideration should be made and some monitoring instituted over a period of time to ensure that what is taken will not cause a worsening of the problems already troubling one’s health status. Probiotics are neither good nor bad. Science does support that certain cases do benefit from its use while in other situations its use is detrimental. It is thus important to be careful when giving these both children and adults alike.


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