BY BENJAMIN MAKEHAM November 30, 2020
Understanding the science behind probiotics can help us to identify a good quality probiotic and how to use them properly. There’s a lot of conflicting information about probiotics available now, and it can be confusing trying to discern what is true. We’ve tackled 5 of the most common misconceptions we hear about probiotics to help you understand them better.
Many people think that probiotics that are kept in the fridge are of a higher quality, and that all probiotics should be kept in the fridge. This is simply not true. Probiotic technology has come a long way in recent years, and that means that probiotics can be kept alive on the shelf and out of the fridge for years! Probiotics are much more resistant to warm temperatures than you’re led to believe.
When it comes to antibiotics, it’s absolutely beneficial to take them at the same time. The research shows that for probiotics to have the most benefit, they need to be taken as soon as the antibiotics are started- not after they’ve finished. When the right probiotic strains are used, this can help to reduce unwanted side effects and protect the gut microbiome.
Many people think that probiotics can replace the beneficial bacteria that we have lost from our gut because they have the ability to permanently colonise our gut microbiome. This, unfortunately, is a misleading conception. Most probiotic bacteria that we know are transient colonisers, which means that they will hang around in our gut for a while but they can’t join our gut microbiome for good. Instead, they are thought to provide health benefits as they’re passing through and help to create an environment which encourages the growth of our own native beneficial gut bacteria. These bacteria are our permanent residents, and they’ve been there since our first few years of life.
A higher dose isn’t necessarily more effective! At Activated Probiotics, we’re a firm believer in using doses that are supported by clinical research. Sometimes, all you need is the 4 billion live probiotic bacteria to have a beneficial effect because that is what the research has shown. A higher dose, such as 400 billion, is sometimes unnecessary. We’re often overcompensating without knowing if there’s additional benefits to taking increasingly higher doses. However, in some instances such as during a course of antibiotics, a higher dose is required.
Again, not necessarily. If a combination of probiotic strains was researched together and shown to be more effective than taking just one of the strains, then absolutely yes. However, it’s very rare to find a probiotic product that has the research to support that. Always look for the clinical evidence supporting a multistrain probiotic. Sometimes, a combination of three carefully selected probiotic strains (or even just one) can be just as effective or more effective than a combination of 12 randomly selected probiotic strains.