There is no evidence that probiotics have any benefits for healthy people, says a new study, noting that many consumers are wasting their time and money.
Probiotics are colonies of live bacteria or yeasts that maintain a balance of the microbes in the gut. Foods like yogurt, pickles and drinks contain beneficial bacteria; some are also in pill form. Probiotic food sales in the US may reach $10 billion, and probiotic supplements may reach $2.5 billion by 2018.
‘Probiotic interventions may benefit those with disease-associated imbalances of the gut microbiota, but, does not have an effect on healthy individuals.’
Probiotic manufacturers tout that the products which are filled with live microorganisms help support a healthy gut and immune system. There is evidence that probiotics benefit people with certain medical conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or ulcerative colitis.
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen studied whether healthy adults also benefit from consuming probiotics.
The researchers looked at seven randomized controlled trials of fecal microbiota and found that, so far, there is no evidence that consuming probiotics make any difference for people who are already healthy.
The researchers found only one study that showed more diversity of beneficial bugs in the feces of people who consumed probiotics. None of the other studies showed any difference in the number of different kinds of bacteria or how they were distributed.
"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," said, Oluf Borbye Pedersen senior author of the study.