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Probiotics - benefit or harm?

 
08 June 2016, 11:00

Probiotics, if you believe advertising, will help normalize the intestinal flora and improve the digestion process. Today on the drugstore shelves you can see a huge selection of such drugs, but whether probiotics are really necessary to try to understand the Danish researchers.

In Denmark, a team of specialists, after careful analysis, questioned the much-publicized use of probiotics. According to Professor Olof Pedersen of the University of Copenhagen, most fully healthy adults take probiotics because they consider them useful or at least harmless to their health. But scientists note that the benefits of such drugs are not proven, and advertising slogans and assurances of manufacturers do not mean anything at all.

Specialists explained that probiotics are called living bacteria, reminiscent of "useful" microorganisms inhabiting the human intestine. Similar bacteria can also be found in some food products, for example, in fermented milk (yogurt, kefir, etc.). Danish scientists note that probiotics are prescribed to treat certain diseases of the digestive system, but the effect of such drugs on the body of a healthy person has not been studied. Despite this, in many respects, thanks to advertising, many healthy people began to take probiotics on a regular basis for general improvement and improvement of digestion. To understand and clarify the truth, the Danish experts analyzed several clinical trials. In each individual study, a short-term effect of probiotics on the intestinal microflora of a healthy person was analyzed, at the time of taking probiotics, none of the participants complained of gastrointestinal disorders and the specialists did not detect any disease, the subjects did not take other food supplements.

Participants were divided into 2 groups, one participant took probiotics, the other did not. As a result, scientists found that people who took probiotics did not experience significant changes in the composition of the intestinal microflora. In total, Danish specialists analyzed 7 studies, among which only one was evidence of a change in the composition of the intestinal microflora after taking probiotics.

According to one of the authors of the new study, there is no strong evidence that probiotics help change the intestinal microflora in a healthy person, even if a person consumes probiotics in large quantities.

But only in 2013-2014 in the world sales of probiotics increased by more than 10%, and it is possible that the scientists themselves contributed to their popularization - scientific works proving the benefits of food additives appear in scientific publications and on the Internet almost daily.

Danish experts emphasize that capsules with live bacteria improve the intestinal microflora only hypothetically, and there is no scientific confirmation of this, so people are called upon to be more circumspect.

According to Pedersen, the use of probiotics has been proven to some extent in imbalances of the intestinal microflora, however, if there are no abnormalities, such drugs are, at best, simply inactive. At the same time, Professor is confident that probiotics should be studied further, perhaps they help prevent the development of certain diseases in healthy people.

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Last reviewed by: Aleksey Portnov , medical expert, on 20.05.2018
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