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Nowadays, probiotics can be found in virtually anything and everything, not only yogurt and pickles. You can find them in desserts, savory foods and supplements, and even toothpaste or beauty creams. It all sounds good and healthy, which is why self-proclaimed good bacteria-rich foods are much more expensive than regular foods. But sadly, studies show that putting probiotic elements in foods that are not naturally containing beneficial bacteria may make them less healthy than regular products and thus, they can become uninspired diet supplements.

Sometimes the hype goes farther than the real value of a “hip” product, even if it may have cherished effects on the body. It appears that the hype surrounding probiotics has not hindered some customers from trying more and more of these supplements. And this is not all, as some studies show that probiotic supplement sales in one year alone are ever increasing, with current sales numbers passing the $1 billion mark.
To separate truth from hype, here are a few steps you can take to make sure you get the right probiotics from the right source.

Probiotic supplements do not require legal regulation

The probiotic supplements you can find in stores and the pharmacy are not usually FDA regulated, but they are considered pretty safe. This means that supplements do not normally go through the testing and regulation process required for drugs but you can always find the perfect biotics reviews and decide if they can improve your health. They are not tested for effectiveness and safety before being mass produced and marketed.

Even if supplements cannot be marketed as being cures for diseases and health problems, manufacturers manage to make vague claims that can trick customers into believing they are buying a “cure” for their digestive health concerns. An addition to the safety in research when purchasing supplements is that they have no standard number of microbes or microbe levels to reach before being marketed.

The danger of side effects

Supplements are safe because their consumption manifests little to no side effects. In the case of probiotics, mild side effects may appear when they are first introduced into the diet. Symptoms may include bloating, and gas and they usually go away after a few days of use.

All supplements are the same

Considering there are large numbers of probiotic strains out in the world, most of them being tested as we speak, they should have different and unique effects on the body. Dairy products are catalysts for a significant number of probiotics whose positive effects on the body are well-known, according to researchers.

Getting enough good bacteria with a meal means having a yogurt with the label “live and active cultures,” aged cheese, kefir or some naturally fermented vegetables (kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso), for example. But there are many foods on the market that are sold as probiotic-rich, when in fact, they may have no such effect whatsoever. These foods are not naturally fermented or cultured and, although they may contain live bacteria, it could not be strong enough to pass stomach acids. The foods unjustly sold as “gut healthy” include juices, snack bars, and cereal.
Even if probiotics found in most foods are safe for consumption, most live bacteria can be deteriorated by the time they get to the stomach or gut, and they may become less active and helpful when it comes to gut health.

Probiotic safety is not universal

While probiotics are safe for consumption, there are cases when using such a supplement will only harm the body. A weakened immune system or a chemotherapy-ridden body will prove too weak to be improved only with good gut bacteria. Other people who may show severe side effects if consuming probiotic supplements are patients awaiting an organ transplant and individuals who have had parts of their GI tract removed because of a health issue. Those who require heart surgery or those who have abnormal heart valves and those who are in the hospital or with central IV lines should also stay away from this type of supplement and probiotic-rich foods because it can lead to an increased rate of infection.

Production and expiration dates matter

Living organisms have their lifetime and, since probiotics are alive, they also have an “expiration” date. The more recent the production time on probiotic-rich foods or supplements the better, as the organisms will be stronger, multiply faster and keep harmful bacteria at bay better. Using supplements before their expiration date will have a similar effect. To prevent losing any benefit from probiotics supplements, manufacturers’ websites or labels can provide proper storage information, both before and after purchase.

The label does contain not only production and expiration dates but also the number of live bacteria found in each pill and other relevant information such as the bacteria strain, genus, and species. The microbe counts are usually marked as colony-forming units or CFU, and they should be found by the billions in each recipient. Never consume probiotic supplements without researching the proper dosage, frequency and storage options.

Price is a problem

Natural probiotics are cheaper and easier to find in traditionally prepared foods, but when it comes to enhanced foods and supplements, things get a bit pricey. As some of the most expensive supplements on the market, probiotic enhancers can put a dent in your pockets. In this case, research is essential, as a high price will not necessarily reflect a high-quality product or a reputable brand.

Not all probiotics are good for everything

As we know, probiotics are spread into strains and genera, and not all of them share the same properties or have the same beneficial effects on the human body. People looking to prevent or treat specific health problems with probiotic supplements should research before making a decision on what supplement to buy. Finding reputable sources of positive results helps a probiotic strain become more familiar, more used and it gives it more credit.

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