What if the key to your health -- both mental and physical -- all lived within your stomach? That’s the current theory about the gut microbiome and microbes -- microorganisms that live throughout your body and are the home to millions of good bacteria.
Breakthroughs in the microbiome have led to millions of dollars of research -- with many findings still in progress. These are good things. The bad part: scientists know that much is still unknown about the microbiome -- how it works, what it does, and how to make it function in ways the benefit your health.
But that hasn’t stopped marketers for taking an inch of information and a promising a mile of benefits. It’s commonplace in the supplement industry where the “magic pill” mentality is why so many people are frustrated by the products they buy (because they set false expectations). And -- as you’ll soon see -- while probiotics are good for you, the expectations for what they will do for your body are extremely misleading.
Yes -- the microbiome (your gut environment) is one of the biggest breakthroughs in health, and its role in many health conditions is both exciting and unknown. Before you buy another probiotic, you might be surprised by just how much we don’t know about these helpful bacteria.
The Probiotic Paradox
If you search the web, many articles blatantly state some version of, “everyone knows that probiotics are good for you…” That would be fine, if the experts that worked with probiotics shared the same mentality. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
“There are many products labeled with the word ‘probiotic’ in the U.S., but not all are responsibly formatted or studied for health benefits,” says Mary Ellen Sanders, Ph.D., executive science officer of the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics.
In fact, the claims about probiotics are grossly overstated: “There is no evidence that it is essential to take probiotics to be healthy...you don’t need probiotics if you are healthy.”
And that’s only the start of an industry that might turn out to be incredibly helpful.