Are Probiotics Useless?

July 9, 2020
Category: Supplement Facts

The mainstream media bungles another story, this time telling us that probiotics are not only useless, but that they can hurt us. Action Alert!

Another day, another story attacking the idea that supplements can help us stay healthy. This time the target is probiotics, with 60 Minutes running the hit piece. The story misrepresents the science on probiotics, and this misinformation could lead people to avoid taking products that can promote gut health.

Two points in particular are made to discredit probiotics. One is that these bacteria don’t actually colonize the gut of the person taking the supplement, and the other is that probiotics may actually do harm by delaying healing from antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

The evidence from the first claim comes from Israeli researchers who found that feeding probiotics to mice and humans often doesn’t result in colonization of the intestines by the bacteria in the probiotics. This leads to the conclusion that “probiotics don’t work.”

What is conveniently left out of the media narratives is that these researchers did find evidence that probiotics exert effects on the intestinal immune system: Nonetheless, when all probiotics-consumers were considered together, probiotics consumption led to transcriptional changes in the ileum, with 19 downregulated and 194 upregulated genes noted, many of which related to the immune system including B cells.”

As Dr. Ron Hoffman points out, the fact that probiotic bacteria taken in supplement form don’t colonize the gut doesn’t mean that probiotics are not efficacious. There are many different ways probiotics could help even if the bacteria don’t establish detectable colonies:

  • Good bacteria prime the immune response, while bad bacteria trigger inflammation and autoimmunity.
  • Good bacteria degrade fiber into short chain fatty acids that nourish the cells lining the intestines, which can help prevent inflammation in the brain.
  • Certain bacteria manufacture critical nutrients including biotin, vitamin K, and folate.
  • Beneficial bacteria generate natural antibiotics and signaling molecules that keep harmful pathogens in check.

In fact, rather than arriving at the conclusion probiotics “don’t work” like the media did, the Israeli researchers conclude: “Our study is not aimed or powered to delineate effects, or lack thereof, of probiotics on mammalian clinical features.”

The same researchers also found that probiotics delayed healing from antibiotic-associated diarrhea. This flies in the face of other studies supporting the idea that probiotics offer protection to those taking antibiotics. A 2012 article recommended that patients taking antibiotics also take probiotics, which have been found to be effective both for the prevention and treatment of antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD). Another trial found a 66% reduction in C.difficile-associated diarrhea in patients taking probiotics with their antibiotics.

Dr. Hoffman, who is an ANH board member, synthesizes these findings:

So how are we to reconcile these results with the finding in the present study that implies probiotics interfere with recovery from antibiotics? My guess is that probiotics act as a benign placeholder—like a temporary Band-Aid—minimizing symptoms even as they delay recolonization by a patient’s native flora. Is this even a problem?

Naturally, these other studies vindicating probiotics are not discussed in the 60 Minutes piece.

What was also left out is promising research on probiotics suggesting these supplements help with a variety of health conditions. Animal studies as well as human diabetes clinical trials have shown that both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria probiotics improve insulin resistance and lead to significant reductions in blood sugar concentrations. Another study found that patients with type 2 diabetes who consumed a probiotic yogurt experienced significant improvements in fasting glucose and hemoglobin A1c. Other research has shown that probiotic supplementation led to a significant reduction in body weight and body mass index. There is also evidence that probiotics help inhibit cancer by suppressing bacteria that convert pro-carcinogen molecules into carcinogens, binding to potential carcinogens and promoting their excretion, upregulating immune cytokines to battle cancer in its early stages, and more.

In light of all of this information, it is irresponsible to tell people that probiotics can’t help. Of course, the false narrative against supplements and natural products will continue, since pharmaceutical advertising is such an important revenue stream for TV networks.

Even when the benefits of health products are well established for supplements like probiotics and others, the government blocks you from learning about them because they aren’t FDA-approved drugs. This is the real problem: a health system that not only bars the use, but even the mention, of natural remedies that have not been, and never can be, put through the multi-billion dollar FDA approval process. The FDA and FTC and some state’s attorneys general have recently told doctors they can’t advise both their patients and the public about natural prevention and treatment for COVID-19.  The FDA has threatened cherry and walnut growers with fines and jail for credible studies on the health benefits of those simple foods. These agencies have gotten out of control, and nothing can change until they are reigned in.

Action Alert! Help us fight back against these false narratives by signing our petition to reform our healthcare system that bars or undermines natural options. Please send your message immediately.

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15 responses to “Are Probiotics Useless?”

  1. Rebecca Vitale Mandich says:

    Unfair 60 minutes !

  2. Rosemary Agrista says:

    it is my decision to take probiotics and no Government or agency has the right to control my decision.

  3. I am living proof Probiotics work!

  4. Patricia Chambers says:

    Ok I’m highly allergic to antibiotics so when I get an infection, I take Cold Pressed Black Cumin Seed Oil. Other than a strong taste which I hate, within 36 hours I’m well again. And if it’s a skin infection I hit the old plantain weed that grows in the driveway. That clears up an infection within hours. So let’s look into more plant based medications. And for the life of me why do so many people take heartburn medicine when a tablespoon of vinegar of any type stops that issue in seconds. Why blow hundreds when a couple of dollars buys a gallon? Makes no sense to me at all.

  5. Patricia says:

    It’s all LIES!!!

  6. Mari Mennel-Bell says:

    Probiotics are completely safe and extremely useful and balancing one’s body to avoid such things as yeast and urinary tract infections! I have used with great success for years

  7. Dee Manitzas says:

    Probiotics is a God’s send for me. They have helped with my digestive system where as before I couldn’t keep food in and they have helped with constipation issues! Leave them alone!

  8. Tony Paskali says:

    I personally have consumed foods and supplements that contain active probiotic cultures for decades and I have not had any adverse reactions to these foods. Intestinal distress is rare and mild. Colds are mild and infrequent and downtime from the seasonal flu is non existent. With the Chinese spread of the Sars Cov-2 virus world wide a year ago I have been careful but not quarantined. I have not contracted Covid 19 and am in the age group that is at a higher risk of catching it. Most media outlets continue to deliver fear and not helpful information. One cannot go wrong with maintaining an active, natural, and healthy lifestyle. There is no reason to ban supplements unless they are contaminated or do not contain what the label says.

  9. Mary Kay Beattie says:

    I can tell a difference in less than 24 hours if I miss my probiotics. They are lifesavers for me and my finicky gastrointestinal tract.

  10. Mary says:

    Unfortunately we are being “educated” by the brainless, mind controlled mainstream media. I learned long ago no matter what they say do a 180. They know nothing of good health only what they are told to believe. Since the good ole boys from Big Pharma, (Rockefeller) Big Ag (Monsanto/Bayer), and low tech (Gates and family) and running scared and trying to force their long planned one world government to control the remaining slaves after they vaccinate everyone to death. We cannot expect anything worth listening to from these dupes who, if the big boys win, will be sent on their way with the rest of the remaining slaves slaves. If people don’t wake up soon it will be far to late to turn this second Bolshevik Revolution around.

  11. Daniela Kunz says:

    Another day, another story attacking the idea that supplements can help us stay healthy. This time the target is probiotics, with “60 Minutes” running the hit piece. The story misrepresents the science on probiotics, and this misinformation could lead people to avoid taking products that can promote gut health.

    Two points in particular are made to discredit probiotics. One is that these bacteria don’t actually colonize the gut of the person taking the supplement, and the other is that probiotics may actually do harm by delaying healing from antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

    The evidence from the first claim comes from Israeli researchers who found that feeding probiotics to mice and humans often doesn’t result in colonization of the intestines by the bacteria in the probiotics. This leads to the conclusion that “probiotics don’t work.”

    What is conveniently left out of the media narratives is that these researchers did find evidence that probiotics exert effects on the intestinal immune system: “Nonetheless, when all probiotics-consumers were considered together, probiotics consumption led to transcriptional changes in the ileum, with 19 downregulated and 194 upregulated genes noted, many of which related to the immune system including B cells.”

    As Dr. Ron Hoffman points out, the fact that probiotic bacteria taken in supplement form don’t colonize the gut doesn’t mean that probiotics are not efficacious. There are many different ways probiotics could help even if the bacteria don’t establish detectable colonies:

    Good bacteria prime the immune response, while bad bacteria trigger inflammation and autoimmunity.
    Good bacteria degrade fiber into short chain fatty acids that nourish the cells lining the intestines, which can help prevent inflammation in the brain.
    Certain bacteria manufacture critical nutrients including biotin, vitamin K, and folate.
    Beneficial bacteria generate natural antibiotics and signaling molecules that keep harmful pathogens in check.
    In fact, rather than arriving at the conclusion probiotics “don’t work” like the media did, the Israeli researchers conclude: “Our study is not aimed or powered to delineate effects, or lack thereof, of probiotics on mammalian clinical features.”

    I fight back against these false Main Stream Media and FDA or other governmental agencies’ narratives by signing this petition to reform our healthcare system that bars or undermines natural options, of which I and my family heavily rely upon.

  12. Angela Bilyeu says:

    Isn’t there a petition to send to CBS about the 60 Minutes Probiotics story? The researcher only used the word microbiome. He often meant microbiota instead. The interviewer questioned that there were no long term studies on the safety of probiotics. Yet no one ever questions why there are no long term studies on antibiotics, vaccines, and GMOs. She was shocked that the industry was allowed to add probiotics based on their own studies, but she doesn’t seem to understand that almost all studies are paid for by the ones with the commercial interest. Commercial interests who are allowed to hide data and repeat studies until they get the results they want. I was thoroughly disgusted with 60 minutes.

  13. james Pou says:

    I have taken supplements for over 20 years and they ave helped to keep me healthy and away from drugs. I know they work and would appreciate if you could protect our constitutional rights and liberty and keep the FDA away from supplements and into drugs.

  14. Cynthia Hart says:

    I doubt very much that there has been anywheres near adequate research on probiotics that would warrant them being discredited. There would need in be extensive individual human studies on each and every strain/brand of probiotic and I am most certain that has not been done.

  15. Rachel says:

    I had problems with acid reflux for several years, bad heartburn, had to take something everyday for it.. I started drinking Kombucha (fermented tea with probiotics). It took care of the problem. Now I hardly ever have heartburn.

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