Probiotics are you pro or conLos Angeles Post-Examiner

Probiotics are you pro or con?

Probiotic sales have gone ballistic since they first gained a foothold in the mid-1990s. There are scores of blends, names, brands and varieties on the shelves of every vitamin shop, drug store and super market supplement section. But is the rage really worth it? Many of the probiotics being sold are rather expensive so are they worth the price and what exactly are probiotics and what do they do that is good? Are there any negatives associated with taking probiotics?

First of all essentially what probiotics are is live bacteria typically in combination with yeast. Of course there are good and bad bacteria and happily probiotics fall squarely into the good side. However, you should know that probiotics already come with the human body. They are also found in several foods and of course you can always buy more in supplement form. However you acquire your probiotics the one thing that is generally agreed upon by researchers and physicians is that they do offer health benefits to your digestive system.

One of the most common opportunities for your medical doctor to prescribe or simply recommend probiotics would be after you have been taking antibiotics which kill the naturally occurring probiotics so a probiotic supplement may well be beneficial. Probiotics may also be recommended to help maintain good digestive health but there is a danger here because symptoms you perceive to be a digestive problem may well have a different cause not improved by taking probiotics. That, of course, means that a far different issue may be attacking your body, something probiotics will not help but taking them may well dangerously extend the time before receiving a proper diagnosis of the actual problem.

Then there is the matter of probiotics being of two different types: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Which one is right for you? Well Lactobacillus is what you want if your problem is diarrhea of if have difficulty digesting lactose. On the other hand if irritable bowel syndrome is your problem then you want Bifidobacterium. But then you will want to know what is the best source for either one and how much is the right amount to take. That may be a far bigger problem than you might imagine.

Probiotics are regulated by the FDA as a food, not as a medication. Consequently the folks who manufacture and sell probiotic supplements do not have to demonstrate that their products are safe or even work as claimed. Do keep that in mind should go probiotic shopping.

Even if you are convinced that adding more probiotics to your diet and therefore to your body you might want to consider these natural foods first as they contain high levels of probiotics and typically cost far less than commercially prepared supplements.

Dark Chocolate
Miso Soup
Kombucha Tea

As is always the case you must look beyond the hype and dig hard to find the facts. In the case of probiotics that facts do tend to support that they are generally helpful, particularly for digestive health and even some skin conditions. But the evidence is not conclusive and does not adequately address the commercially prepared supplements which are generally very expensive and are not required by the FDA to be either safe or effective. So in my mind if I felt that I would benefit by consuming more probiotics I would simply increase my consumption of the natural foods known to be rich in probiotics and avoid the vast array of commercially prepared supplements, few if any of which have undergone extensive testing and/or clinical trials.

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One other thing that can brighten anyone’s day is some good visual art. For that check here.

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To read more of Ron’s health columns and theatre reviews, click here. And we invite you to join Ron on the Hollywood Health Hike April 30.


About the author

Ron Irwin

Ron Irwin was born in Chicago, Illinois a long time ago. He served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam, became a trial lawyer, TV and radio host, CEO of a public company and once held an Emmy. He never won an Emmy he just held one. Ron has written and published twelve books. His most important book to date is “Live, Die, Live Again” in which Ron tells of his early life and his unexpected and very temporary death in 2012. That experience dramatically refocused his life and within the pages of that book Ron reveals how he achieved a much healthier life, ridding himself of Diabetes, Cancer and Heart Failure. Now Ron enjoys writing about many things including health topics, travel [he has circled the globe several times], adventure, culinary experiences and the world of performing art. Ron’s motto is “Live better, live longer and live stronger because it feels great and annoys others.” Contact the author. Contact the author.