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In a recent study titled A review of probiotic supplementation in healthy adults: helpful or hype? the authors reviewed 45 clinical trials on the use of probiotics in healthy adults published between 1990 and 2017. The results revealed that taking probiotics regularly can help healthy people become even healthier.
It is now indisputable that a healthy microbiome is critical for good health. Many studies have reported that probiotic supplements are beneficial in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders such as colitis, diarrhea, Crohn’s disease and IBS. Also, an increasing number of scientific studies are reporting that probiotic supplementation can provide benefits for conditions outside the GI tract such as oral health, respiratory infections, eczema, bladder and vaginal infections, and psychiatric disorders like anxiety, depression and schizophrenia.,, However, there has been some controversy about whether probiotic supplementation in “healthy adults” is helpful or hype.
In a study titled A review of probiotic supplementation in healthy adults: helpful or hype? the authors reviewed 45 clinical trials on the use of probiotics in healthy adults published between 1990 and 2017. The authors reported that the studies reviewed could be classified into 5 major areas of benefit. The studies reviewed addressed the following areas of concern: changes in the microbiome (15 studies), immune system response (16 studies), blood lipids and/or lowering of cardiovascular risks (14 studies), gastrointestinal discomfort (11 studies) and female reproductive health (4 studies).
The overall results indicated that probiotic supplementation in healthy adults can lead to a short-term increase in the concentration of the strains of bacteria supplied in the probiotic supplements. The evidence also indicated that probiotics can be helpful in improving immune system responses, stool consistency, bowel movement, and vaginal lactobacilli concentration. There was insufficient evidence to support the role of probiotics to improve blood lipid profiles.
In their conclusion, the authors stated that the results of studies on the use of probiotics in healthy adults over the past 27 years indicate that probiotic consumption can provide beneficial improvements in the immune, gastrointestinal, and female reproductive health systems in healthy adults.
My Analysis and Comments: There are two important points that I want to address related to this study and its reported results.
1) Health is a continuum: Remember, health is not simply the absence of disease. In most people, even healthy people, there is generally room for improvement in one or several areas of health. In this review of studies on the use of probiotics in healthy individuals, it was shown that probiotic supplementation can result in improvements in GI health, immune system function and female reproductive system. So, probiotics can make healthy people healthier
2) Probiotic Benefits are Short-Lived: It was interesting and important to note that the benefits healthy people gained from taking probiotics were transient or of short duration. This is because the strains of bacteria in probiotic supplements are generally not the same strains that individuals harbor in their innate microbiome. The bacteria in probiotic supplements can provide health benefits for individuals for approximately 7-10 days as they are passing through the intestinal tract. Because the strains of bacteria in probiotic supplements are generally not the same as the individual’s innate bacteria, the supplemented strains do not effectively adhere to the intestinal mucosal cells and colonize. In fact, in a study titled Beneficial Properties of Probiotics, the authors stated the following:
“Continuous intake of orally administered probiotics is necessary because permanent colonization of probiotics is uncommon.”
Conclusion: Probiotic supplementation can provide benefits to Individuals with health problems AND to healthy adults. However, the benefits from probiotic supplementation are generally believed to be of short duration because the ingested bacteria are not the host’s innate bacteria. This means the bacteria in probiotic supplements are not likely to colonize and remain resident for extended periods of time.
Therefore, the bottom line is that yes, probiotic supplements can provide health benefits, but they must be ingested continually in order to continue receiving their health-promoting benefits.
Since a healthy microbiome is now recognized to be one of the most critical aspects of health, we need to educate people about the importance of taking a premium probiotic such as Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics on a daily basis to help maintain a healthy microbiome. I want to disclose that I am the Scientific Director with Essential Formulas and we market and distribute Dr. Ohhira's Probiotics throughout north America.
I believe Dr. Ohhira's Probiotics is the best probiotic in the world because it is produced using a multi-year fermentation process. During fermentation, the bacteria digest the foods they are supplied with and produce compounds we refer to as postbiotic metabolites. It is these postbiotic metabolites that have important health-regulating effects throughout the body. Recent research has determined that Dr. Ohhira's Probiotics contain over 400 postbiotic metabolites. No other probiotic can match Dr. Ohhira's. This is The Dr. Ohhira's Difference. This is why we say, Dr. Ohhira's Probiotics accelerate improvement of gastrointestinal symptoms and accomplish Rapid Microbiome Restoration.