Over the last 2 weeks you may have read of some reports that warn you about taking probiotics because they are dangerous. These arise from a couple of studies conducted by the Weitzman Institute of Science in Israel.
First thing you will note is that the bulk of these reports are coming from mainstream media in the US.
If you’re a Malaysian or Asian reading this article, you know that Asians have been consuming probiotics for thousands of years. Almost all probiotics originated from Asian cultures - Chinese, Indian, Korean, Malay, Japanese, etc.
The various forms of probiotics Asians have been consuming are so varied, like yogurt, kimchi, tempeh and other fermented foods.
However, probiotics usage among Western cultures is a relatively new phenomenon and their media are antagonistic towards health supplements generally and are more favourable towards pharmacological therapies.
Hence it’s no surprise they take every chance to bash health supplements and this time the victim is probiotics.
In this article, we shall present the other side of the coin and rebut the scare mongering by the media.
So let’s dive in and examine the flaws in the dubious research that’s causing concern.
Probiotics Supplement Strains
Firstly, you must understand that there are many, many strains of good bacteria. However, not all of them are used or have been used in probiotic supplements. In one of the Israeli studies, the probiotic blend used had 11 strains which were not itemized.
Moreover these 11 strains are never found together in any commercially available supplement simply because not all 11 strains have beneficial effects in humans.
This means that the supplement companies have not used certain strains because there was no scientific evidence of benefits. This applies to probiotics supplements in Malaysia too.
Hence, the Israeli researchers were very unscientific and mischievous in their research aims.
Probiotics Supplement Schedule
Secondly, in the other trial patients were given probiotics 7 days after starting antibiotic treatment. The problem with this is that 7 days of antibiotic treatment will destroy all bacteria in your gut.
Prof. Get Rijkers (Head of Science Dept., University College Roosevelt, Netherlands) explains that using probiotics at that time will prevent the natural gut bacteria from re-colonising. Once again we observe that the Israeli scientists are very unscientific in their methodology.
Probiotics Supplement Patient Numbers
Thirdly, the two Israeli studies performed the experiments among small samples - around 20 patients. Studies with small patient numbers cannot be used to extrapolate to the larger population.
However, we must credit the Weitzman researchers for stating that their studies were not intended to determine clinical responses to probiotics. So now we wonder why the mainstream media is on a witch hunt when the researchers themselves have said there’s no clinical insights from their results.
Probiotics Supplement Study Protocol
Fourthly, the studies don’t mention if the patients were controlled for diet and other lifestyle habits that effect microbes. It has been documented that exercise, smoking, medication can affect bacteria.
Other Probiotics Supplement Trials
Lastly, we should put all these in perspective. There have been 1,200 studies that have shown the benefits of probiotics on various aspects of health in humans. These Israeli studies are just a drop in the vast ocean.
Probiotics Supplement Malaysia Articles
Here are some benefits of probiotics we’ve published on MADSA’s website: