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article imageProbiotics are essentially 'useless': Research

By Tim Sandle     Sep 6, 2018 in Health
For some years there has been disagreement among scientists and nutritionists about the value of probiotics. A new study, aiming to be the most comprehensive ever, concludes that probiotics 'are almost useless'.
The research was undertake in Israel, at the Weizmann Institute of Science. The researchers set to produce the most detailed analyses of what happens in the human body when people consume probiotics. While many manufacturers of probioitcs claim that the foods with live beneficial bacteria are good for the human gut, the researchers discovered that probiotics had minimal to no effect on the human body. Probiotics are usually taken as supplements or in foods such as yoghurt, kimchi or kefir.
However, the researchers did state that future applications of probiotics could be of benefit, but that these would need to have been specified for each individual due to variances between the microbiome of each individual.
For the research, the scientists devised a probiotic mixture that consisted of eleven bacteria previously characterized as 'beneficial'. These include species of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, both of which are used in commonly available probiotic foodstuffs. The microbial cocktail was provided to 25 volunteer subjects over the course of one month. At the end of the trial period, samples from the intestines and stomach were taken from the subjects.
The researchers then used metagenomic methods to assess whether the beneficial organisms had been able to colonize the body areas and whether there had been any notable alterations with the activity of the gut.
The general conclusion was that colonization did not happen and there were no notable effects on the physiology of the subjects. However, in some circumstances, the opposite of the desired effects were achieved: aperson'sgut microbiome was prevented from returning to normal after a course of antibiotics at the same time when probiotics were consumed.
Dr. Eran Elinav, from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, told The Guardian: "Once the probiotics had colonised the gut, they completely inhibited the return of the indigenous microbiome which was disrupted during antibiotic treatment."
The research has been published in the journal Cell. The research paper is headed "Personalized Gut Mucosal Colonization Resistance to Empiric Probiotics Is Associated with Unique Host and Microbiome Features."
In more promising probiotic news, a different team of scientists have used a probiotic to determine whether there is a reduction in the rate of bone related mineral density loss in older women. The results are promising, suggesting further study is worthwhile (see: "Probiotic shows reduction in bone loss in older women").
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