Humans have been eating fermented foods since the advent of agriculture. In recent years, the consumption of probiotics has received growing attention from microbiologists as well as from people who wish to step up when it comes to their health. Consuming probiotic-rich foods like yogurt is recommended by nutritionists to improve gut health and boost immune systems.
Although probiotics have been studied for many years, relatively little is still known about their specific role in promoting a healthy lifestyle.
But how much do you really know about probiotics? In this post, let’s take a look into common probiotic myths, and facts on the matter.
9 Probiotic Myths and Facts
For a long time, we’ve been told by our mothers and grandmothers to eat yogurt and other probiotic foods.
They say that it’s good for digestion, which makes sense. After all, probiotic strains are supposed to help keep bad bacteria at bay and healthy bacteria in control. But is there really anything to this age-old wisdom? Or is it just another myth behind the science of probiotics? Here are 9 myths and facts about probiotics:
#1 Probiotics Are Only Beneficial to Gut Health.
While it’s true that probiotics have been shown to help with digestive problems like constipation or diarrhea, recent studies have shown that they also play an important role in your overall health—particularly when it comes to your immune system.
Studies have shown that supplements containing probiotics can help reduce inflammation throughout the body, which may be especially helpful for people suffering from autoimmune diseases like arthritis or Crohn’s disease. Check out these posts about probiotics for migraines and probiotics for acid reflux to see how else you can benefit from these types of food.
#2 Every Probiotic Is the Same
It’s not true when they say that all probiotics are the same. You might ask, how many strains of probiotics are there? Well, there are thousands of strains of bacteria that fall under the “probiotic” umbrella—each with different benefits and effects on your health.
There’s no one “perfect” strain of probiotics for everyone. The best way to figure out which one is right for you is to do some research and see what makes sense for your lifestyle and needs.
#3 Yogurt Contains Plenty of Probiotics.
Yogurt is the first food that comes to mind as one of the most common probiotics, but do all yogurts contain probiotics?
The answer is Yes. All yogurts contain probiotics, but some have more than others. The most common type of bacteria in yogurt is Lactobacillus acidophilus. This particular bacteria helps to digest lactose, which can be difficult for those who are lactose-intolerant. It also helps to keep your immune system strong and healthy, as well as aiding in digestion and gut health.
Do all yogurts contain plenty of probiotics?
Definitely not: Some yogurts don’t contain any live cultures at all; they may only be made up of milk and sugar or other additives like artificial coloring or flavors.
These types of yogurts will not provide any benefits to your digestive system at all because the bacteria have been killed during processing (which can happen within just a few hours after making). They’re also not very nutritious because there’s no protein present in them either.
#4 Probiotics Cause Digestion Discomfort
No, probiotics don’t cause digestive discomfort.
However, this doesn’t mean that everyone who takes probiotics will feel great. In fact, many people find that they have a lot more gas and bloating after taking probiotics, which can be very uncomfortable.
The reason why it’s so common to have digestive discomfort while taking probiotics is that they cause an imbalance of bacteria in your gut. When you change the balance of bacteria in your gut, it can result in symptoms like stomach pain and bloating because some bacteria are being killed off and others are being introduced to your system.
If you’re experiencing discomfort when taking probiotics, try changing up the brand or type of probiotic supplement you’re using (if possible) so that you can find one that works best for your body. There are different strains of bacteria found in different types of supplements that may be more effective than others at treating different conditions and symptoms.
#5 Probiotics Only Function When They Are Refrigerated.
Are probiotics alive when you consume yogurt, for example? Probiotics are often referred to as “live cultures” or “active cultures.” But what does that mean, exactly?
Probiotics aren’t alive when they go into products like yogurt, kefir, and kombucha. They are alive when they are in their natural environment—in the gut of a healthy person.
Producers of probiotic food and beverages make sure that the bacteria survive their journey through the digestive system by putting them in a special protective environment (like an alkaline liquid) or by using a special process (like freeze-drying) that preserves the living organisms.
#6 Probiotics Are Only Necessary if I Am Taking Antibiotics.
While antibiotics are a common cause of bacterial imbalance, they aren’t the only ones. In fact, it’s normal to experience some level of fluctuation in your gut’s bacterial makeup—whether it’s due to a change in your diet or a stressful situation.
That’s why you should take probiotics every day, even if you’re not taking antibiotics. It’s like brushing your teeth—you don’t just do it when you have cavities already.
#7 It Makes No Difference When You Take Probiotics.
While it’s true that there’s the best time to take probiotics, this doesn’t mean that there’s no benefit to taking them at a specific time of day.
Many probiotic supplements contain prebiotics, which are carbohydrates that help the good bacteria in your gut to flourish. Prebiotics are best eaten with meals containing protein because proteins can help to increase the absorption of these prebiotics into your system.
If you take a supplement containing both prebiotics and good bacteria, then eating it with a meal containing protein can help to ensure that those good bacteria are able to colonize your digestive tract as quickly as possible.
#8 Probiotics Have Been Shown to Aid in Weight Loss.
There are some studies that show probiotics may have a positive effect on weight loss, there are also many more that don’t find any such relationship. In fact, one study found that probiotics actually increased people’s body fat by a small amount.
Probiotics are helpful for gut health and general well-being, but it’s important to remember that they’re not designed to help you lose weight.
#9 Probiotics Should Be Taken on an Empty Stomach.
Probiotics are live microorganisms, which means they need food to survive. They also like to eat at a certain time every day, so they can get the most out of their breakfast and lunch—just like us! Take your probiotic with a meal containing some healthy fats, proteins, and carbs. This will help your body absorb the nutrients in your probiotic.
If you want to get the most out of your probiotics, make sure you take them with food containing healthy fats, proteins, and carbs.
Are Live Cultures and Probiotics the Same?
The short answer is yes. But there’s more to it than that.
So let’s talk about live cultures first. Live cultures are the bacteria you find in yogurt, cheese, and other fermented foods. When you eat them, they help your body with digestion and improve your immune system.
Probiotics on the other hand are the actual supplements we take to get those live cultures into our systems. They are made up of beneficial bacteria that can help us stay healthy when we’re feeling under the weather or at risk for an illness.
It’s important to remember that these two things aren’t interchangeable. You can’t just eat yogurt whenever you want a dose of probiotics—it doesn’t work like that.
Are Chewable Probiotics Effective?
You may have seen chewable probiotics at your local drugstore or health food store—and you might be wondering if they work as well as the capsules.
The answer is: it depends. The type of probiotic you choose will affect how well it works for you. Here’s what you need to know about chewable probiotics:
- Chewable probiotics are easier to take than capsules, so they may be better for children or people who have trouble swallowing pills.
- Chewable probiotics tend to have fewer strains of bacteria than their capsule counterparts, but this doesn’t mean they’re less effective. It just means there’s a higher risk of side effects like gas or bloating if you don’t follow the directions carefully.
- Chewable probiotics should always be refrigerated after opening—otherwise, they’ll lose potency quickly and won’t work as well for your digestion!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Truth About Probiotics?
Probiotics are good for you, but there are some things that you may not know about them. Here’s what you need to know:
- Probiotics don’t have to be refrigerated after opening. In fact, the opposite is usually true—they should be kept out of the fridge to avoid damaging their cultures. You can keep them in a cool, dry place like your cupboard or pantry instead.
- Probiotics aren’t just for people with digestive issues. While they’re great for those who do have trouble with their digestion and other digestive problems, they can also help with skin issues and immune function!
- Not all probiotics are created equal, so it’s important to make sure that you’re buying a quality product that has been tested by an independent lab (not just by the manufacturer), has a long shelf life, and contains billions of CFUs per serving (or more).
Is There a Downside to Probiotics?
Yes, there is a downside to probiotics. But it’s not as bad as you might think.
You may also ask, “Will my stomach get sick after taking probiotics? Can probiotics cause weight gain?”
You see, probiotics are bacteria—and bacteria are everywhere in your body. They live in your intestines and help break down food, produce vitamins and nutrients, and fight off bad bacteria. That’s the good news: we all have bacteria living in our bodies all the time. The other good news is that most of them are friendly to us and help us stay healthy.
But sometimes our bodies get out of balance and bad bacteria take over—they can cause infections like yeast infections or UTIs, they can make us feel bloated or gassy (this is especially common if you’re taking antibiotics), and they can even cause diarrhea or constipation if they’re in large numbers.
That’s where probiotics come in: by adding more “good” bacteria into your body, these friendly little guys can help keep your digestive system healthy and happy.
Are Probiotics Scientifically Proven to Work?
The answer is YES.
What are some probiotics nutrition facts? Are they proven to work?
Research on probiotics has been ongoing for decades, and it’s been proven that probiotics work. They don’t just work—they’re an important part of your health, and they can help you when you’re feeling unwell, as well as help prevent illnesses in the first place.
Is Taking Probiotics a Waste of Money?
It all depends on what kind you’re taking and why.
If you’re buying probiotics for the sake of improving your digestion, then spending money on them may not be worth it. In fact, some studies show that the placebo effect can actually cause digestive problems to improve—so if your symptoms get better after taking a probiotic that’s just a coincidence.
However, if you have an autoimmune disease or other chronic condition like IBS or Crohn’s disease, then it’s definitely worth looking into taking a probiotic supplement as part of your treatment plan. The right probiotic could help reduce inflammation and provide other benefits like balancing out acid levels in the stomach and lowering cholesterol levels in the body.
So before you go out there and buy yourself a bottle of Kombucha, think about what it is exactly you’re hoping to achieve with this supplement and what type of results are realistic for YOU specifically.
Let’s face it though: we’re a society obsessed with the idea of improving our health by crushing pills, popping capsules, and even treating ourselves to colon cleanses. It can seem overwhelming to wade through the mass of information about how each bit of that routine is supposed to help us, whether it’s taking probiotics or any other supplement.
There are a lot of conflicting opinions out there that can make it difficult to know what we “should” be doing as opposed to what we “can.” The effects of probiotics are definitely worthwhile, but they’re most commonly used when something has already gone wrong.
Consider taking a natural supplement that will support your gut health such as Optima, it improves the absorption of nutrients and reduces inflammation in your body. A healthy gut is one of the predicates to overall wellness!