Yogurt Got You Wondering?
So in Part 1, we talked about probiotics – what they are and what is their job-description within the body. The next question is – what does this mean for you, and should you be taking them.
Here are a few important things to keep in mind about probiotics:
“Probiotics” is a general term for good bacteria. But there are THOUSANDS of potentially good bacteria, and they aren’t all created equally, and certainly haven’t all been studied.
Yogurt that contains “live cultures” is sometimes misleading, because a lot of the bacteria die when the yogurt is pasturized, or are killed by the acid encountered in your stomach after you’ve eaten it.
Now certain probiotics have been studied and show promise in the treatment of certain conditions.
Here’s a summary:
A number of probiotics have shown promise in improving IBS symptoms. Some of the most robust data is with B. infantis (Align) in people with diarrhea-predominant IBS.
Lactobacillus GG (Culturelle) and S. boulardii (Florastor) can be of benefit in people with infectious diarrhea.
For certain conditions like ulcerative colitis and pouchitis, VSL#3 may have some benefit.
Again – so what does all of this mean? Well, it’s a hard question to answer. If you have infectious diarrhea (like travelers diarrhea), try Culturelle, it can’t hurt. Or IBS? Try Algin. Does that mean it’ll help? I have no idea. Does it mean other probiotics won’t help? Again – no idea. But these are the ones that have been studied for these conditions so they are your best bets.
Now if you’ve tried Align for your IBS for example and have noticed no improvement in your symptoms, there’s no benefit to continuing it. Similarly, if you’re on a different probiotic and notice it’s making a huge difference for you, don’t switch!
Probiotics are a therapeutic option with a lot of promise, but there’s a lot of research still left to be done.