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icoTrue or false? 7 Myths About Probiotics

The word probiotic means "promoting life", but what do you really know about these good bacteria? We have collected 7 common myths about probiotics to make some order out of the confusion.

Ready? Let's start dispelling myths >>

 

Myth # 1: Only people with health problems need to take probiotics

False

So, this is not true. If we were all of a generation living on farms, growing our own crops in organic soil, far from air pollution, processed foods, chemicals, pesticides, and more and more toxins we are exposed to daily, this might have been true. However, modern life exposes us to elements that harm the microbiome* and the bacterial population of the gut.

The processed diet that we unfortunately tend to eat too often is full of simple sugars, fats and carbohydrates. And as if that's not enough, we are often stressed, we regularly take antibiotics, and without knowing it, we even get toxins from the air we breathe. All of these factors destroy the good bacteria that live in our gut, making way for bacteria, viruses and fungi that can be harmful. Therefore, it is recommended to add probiotics to our diet to restore the balance of good bacteria in the intestinal flora if it is already damaged, and also to keep it healthy over time.

*The microbiome is the gene encoding of the bacteria in the human body (similar to the encoding of the human genome).

 

Myth # 2: It is enough to consume yogurts and fermented foods enriched with probiotics

False

Today there is a wide variety of probiotic foods and drinks available on the market. Examples include yogurt, fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, and fermented beverages. All of these foods are produced by fermentation using live and active bacteria. However, the major advantage of taking probiotics as a dietary supplement is its high degree of effectiveness.

Fermented foods and drinks usually sit on the shelf for a long time before they are consumed. As a result, the bacteria in the product may already be dead, or at a stage when they can no longer provide their full benefits. Moreover, the probiotic bacteria on their way to their destination (the gut) have to pass through the acidic environment of the stomach. The high acidity in the stomach destroys many of these good bacteria, especially if they are already aging after sitting on the shelf for a number of days or weeks.

In the final analysis, since these are actually live organisms that need to make their way into the digestive system, the probiotic bacteria protected by an technologically-efficient coating in advanced nutritional supplements have a higher survival rate compared to food products.

 

Myth # 3: All probiotic supplements are the same

False

Probiotic bacteria are not a single group; different types of probiotic bacteria can affect different processes to a different and sometimes opposite degree. Therefore probiotic strains cannot be treated as a single unit.

Each probiotic strain is a live bacterium performing a different, scientifically proven function in the body. And as in life, a formula made up of different strains with complementary skills works best. Studies have shown that multi-strain probiotic products are significantly more effective than products with one or two strains.

When it comes to choosing a probiotic supplement, it is important to check that the strains it contains are backed by science and some of them will have been researched. Then, the combination of strains as a whole should be tested to ensure that these strains work well together to ensure the effectiveness of the product.

 

Myth # 4: You need to take probiotics only if you are taking antibiotics

False

Taking probiotics when taking antibiotics is indeed recommended by professionals! Probiotic supplements are considered a natural and safe treatment alongside antibiotics. But the supplement can also be used regardless of antibiotics, when it is necessary to improve the action of friendly bacteria.

Antibiotics are organic compounds that fight bacteria and pollutants, and destroy them or prevent their growth. However, on the way to destroying the bad bacteria, the antibiotic attacks everything that is in its way and is sensitive to it, including "good bacteria" found in the digestive system, bacteria whose job is to help the body deal with infections and diseases. These good bacteria are called probiotics. By taking a probiotic supplement with antibiotic treatment, the population of good bacteria in the gut is supplemented, thus reducing the risk of antibiotic-related side effects.

However, antibiotics are not the only thing that disrupts the balance of good bacteria in the gut. Other factors include stress, unhealthy diet, alcohol and more. A modern lifestyle poses many threats to our good gut bacteria. In recent years, many studies have indicated that probiotics are effective in treating a wide range of symptoms and diseases, from urinary tract infections to allergies and skin diseases. Today, even the connection between probiotics and the prevention of obesity, diabetes and other health conditions is being investigated. Therefore, taking probiotics is recommended for children, women, and men throughout the year and not just while taking antibiotics.

 

Myth # 5: The more probiotic bacteria in the supplement, the more effective it is

True, but inaccurate.

 By and large, yes. Logically, the greater the quantity of "good" bacteria, the more efficient the probiotic product will be, but for the most part this is true so long as it is a probiotic supplement with strains and bacteria suited to the digestive system. There are also specific bacterial strains that are not needed in large quantities, since they treat specific problems, such as the BLIS K12 bacteria or the BB12 bacteria. BLIS K12, for example, is specific to the pharynx and oral cavity. It takes the place of the Streptococcus A bacteria and other pathogens, thus creating a positive balance against contaminating bacteria and preventing them from colonizing and reproducing. On the other hand,  BB12 is a known probiotic that positively regulates the composition of bacteria in the gut and the proper functioning of the immune system. It is considered to be one of the first strains to populate and protect the good bacteria in a baby's body. A recent clinical study examining the bacterium found that the BB12 strain is effective in treating and preventing colic in infants.

 

Myth # 6: Probiotics are only good for the digestive system

False

Probiotics is a general term for the communities of good bacteria that regularly exist in different areas of our bodies. Each such area is called a flora, with the largest flora being in the gut. These are ecosystems composed of families of bacteria that live in interaction with the host body and actively assist in its proper functioning. Although most of us make a quick connection between probiotics and the digestive system, it is important to know that the activity of bacteria is not limited to this system alone.

Apart from the great contribution of probiotic bacteria to the digestive tract, it is important to know that probiotics are no less important in boosting our immune system. How? A large number of the immune system cells (70% - 80%!) are in the intestines, and the probiotic bacteria act as "guards" to protect them. When we do not have sufficient good bacteria in the gut, the immune system may weaken.

A flora of good bacteria also exists in other areas, such as the oral cavity, the female vagina, and, of course, also in children’s digestive tract. Therefore taking probiotics is recommended for children, women, and men throughout the year and not just for digestive problems.

 

Myth # 7: Probiotics should be refrigerated to maintain bacterial efficacy

False

Probiotic supplements have live organisms that are sensitive to temperature, light and moisture. Putting probiotic bacteria into a capsule and storing them in the refrigerator will not necessarily keep them alive, and they can quickly be destroyed. Fortunately, there are new technologies and advanced coatings that ensure their preservation over long periods of time without the need for refrigeration. These coatings protect the bacteria from moisture and heat, and ensure stability and a longer shelf life,

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