This is a follow up to a blog from several days ago where I was talking about the health benefits of eating food that has been eaten by bacteria first. I gave examples of soy sauce, kimchi, yogurt and others.
There really is a LOT of confusion in the literature about whether or not there is any benefit whatsoever to the yogurts that add bacteria to them. If you believe all of the hype in the advertising, probiotics can alleviate gas, bloating and diarrhea. They can help you lose weight, have more energy, and boost your immune system. Really ??
Maybe. Sometimes. For some people.
It's tricky. There are several problems. Not the least of which is the fact that the effects of the probiotics are strain-specific. The strains can differ within the same species, and there aren't that many strains with benefits. For example, there are multiple strains of L.acidopholus and one strain (like LA-5) doesn't necessarily have the same benefits as another. As it is now, companies do not have to disclose which strains of bacteria they add to their products. They also don't have to tell consumers the dose of bacteria that they add, and that is important.
Probiotics only work if they are ALIVE when you open the product. Just because the bacteria are alive when they are added to the product, doesn't guarantee that they will be alive for the entire shelf life of the product.
A recent consumer lawsuit against Dannon, Dannon agreed to remove from its DanActive's label the word "Immunity" and the claim that the drink has a "positive effect" on the immune system. Their claims were not supported by any research.
As always, the consumer has to be vigilant and stay educated. You really can't believe everything you read on a label.
Mary Bell RD / LD