Probiotics does little for healthy adults, a new study suggests, as there was no evidence to show it changes the composition of faecal bacteria.
The benefits of probiotics are well-advertised: it is believed to improve digestion and build immunity. But a recent study by the University of Copenhagen has raised doubts on its value to healthy consumers. The study was published in the journal Genome Medicine.
Researchers analysed the trials of seven different products, ranging from biscuits to capsules and drinks, involving 21 to 81 participants each. These participants were 19 to 88 years of age.
On the whole, researchers concluded that there was no evidence to show probiotics changed the composition of faecal bacteria, although one trial featured significant changes.
“While there is some evidence from previous reviews that probiotic interventions may benefit those with disease-associated imbalances of the gut microbiota, there is little evidence of an effect in healthy individuals,” lead researcher Oluf Pedersen told The Guardian.
Findings may have been clouded by the review’s small sample size and the fact that trial participants consumed different strains of bacteria, researchers noted.
“To explore the potential of probiotics to contribute to disease prevention in healthy people, there is a major need for much larger, carefully designed and carefully conducted clinical trials,” Mr Pedersen said.
“These should include ideal composition and dosage of known and newly developed probiotics. (This should be) combined with specified dietary advice, optimal trial duration and relevant monitoring of host health status,” he added.
Probiotic drinks in Singapore supermarkets include household names Yakult and Vitagen. The component can also be found in kimchi, natto, cheese and sauerkraut.
Previous research has lauded the role of probiotic goods in promoting skin and oral health, despite its pungent, sour aroma. A study by Leiden University found that consumers were happier and recovered faster from sad thoughts.
Read The Guardian for the full report.