Are probiotics really as beneficial as they are touted to be? (Source: Getty Images/ Thinkstock)
Have a digestive ailment? Falling back on probiotics seems to be the most commonly touted solution these days. Loaded with live, good bacteria that are believed to be good for the digestive system, probiotics can be a healthy supplement to take.
“If you have challenges with gut health like regular constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, distention, taking probiotics like lactobacillus is a good idea,” says Dr. Priyanka Rohatgi, chief nutritionist, Apollo Hospitals.
However, a recent study rolled out by a group of scientists from Israel claim that food packed with bacteria, like probiotics, is completely useless.
How probiotics work in the body?
” A lot of patients who are on antibiotics tend to lose the good bacteria in their gut. Thus, we recommend them probiotics to restore the balance,” says Dr. Rohatgi.
Though the specific mechanism of probiotics in the body is unknown, they are known to send food through the gut by affecting the nerves that control stomach movement, thereby easing digestion.
According to the study conducted by the scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science, and published in the journal Cell, probiotics were found to have little to no effect inside the body. The researchers believe that probiotics of the future would need tailoring to the needs of each individual.
What do the bacteria do inside the gut?
After taking probiotics, the live bacteria are assumed to colonise in the gut and regulate its activities. The result of the research showed that in half the cases the good bacteria went into the mouth and straight out of the body. In rest of the cases, they lingered a while in the gut before being crowded out by the existing microbes.
Though probiotics have been around for some time, they have been increasingly coming under scrutiny lately.
So, are probiotics a good idea?
The research emphasises on the need to take probiotics according to the health type of the individual. An off-the-shelf probiotic may not work the same for everyone, so it is advisable to have a doctor’s consultation before going on probiotics.