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Are Probiotics Good for You?

Millions of people worldwide consume probiotics for their apparent health benefits but there were mixed messages about them in the media last week as a result of two studies conducted by researchers at the Weizman Institute of Science in Israel. Whereas one media report concluded taking probiotics was “almost useless”, another stated the research found “some people’s digestive systems held on to the probiotics” while in others “the body expelled the good bacteria”. In fact, the researchers found probiotic bacteria were shed by all study participants consuming probiotics regardless of whether they were responsive to probiotics or not. More on the research findings in a moment.

Bottle and probiotics pills
Probiotics can be bought commercially and are found in some foods such as yoghurt.

Investigating the gut microbiome – the good and bad microbes you find in the human digestive system – is a rapidly growing and complex field. The gut microbiome plays an important role in good health as well as disease. Probiotics are foods and dietary supplements containing living bacteria that are thought to help the digestive system. The probiotics industry is booming.

So what’s the story with this latest research? Now the dust has settled let’s take a look…

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