Betty Kovacs, MS, RD
Betty is a Registered Dietitian who earned her B.S. degree in Food and Nutrition from Marymount College of Fordham University and her M.S. degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She is the Co-Director and Director of nutrition for the New York Obesity Research Center Weight Loss Program.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- What are probiotics?
- What is the gut?
- What are the health benefits of probiotics?
- What are the different types of probiotics?
- What foods contain probiotics?
- What are the side effects and risks of probiotics?
- How should people take probiotics?
- Where can I get more information on probiotics?
How should people take probiotics?
The requirements for a microbe to be considered a probiotic are that the microbe must be alive when administered, it must be documented to have a heath benefit, and it must be administered at levels to confer a health benefit. These are live microorganisms that will not provide the promised benefits if they don't stay alive. The manufacturer and consumer must pay close attention to the conditions of storage at which the particular microorganism will survive and the end of their shelf life. The potency will tell you the number of viable bacteria per dose, and the purity has to do with presence of contaminating or ineffective bacteria.
The other thing to remember is that these microorganisms are not all created equally. In fact, the genus, strain, and species all need to be the same for the results that you find in the study to be the results that you hope to achieve when taking it. For example, with the strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, the genus is Lactobacillus, the species is rhamnosus and the strain is GG. If any one of those is different in your supplement, you may not attain the same results.
With the growing popularity of probiotics, there is a huge variety of supplements from which you can choose. The most important thing is to determine what type of probiotic microorganism you need for your condition. Do not just take the supplement that provides the most kinds of organisms. You need to do your research and be sure that there are scientific studies to support what you take. New research is emerging, so if you don't find what you need right, now keep looking. Your doctor can help you decide if trying probiotics might be helpful for you and can advise you regarding the amount and type of probiotics that may be appropriate in your case.
Where can I get more information on probiotics?
"Herbs and Supplements," MedlinePlus (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/herb_All.html)
Medically reviewed by Donald Lee, DO; Board Certified Family Practice
Alm, L. "Therapeutic Properties of Fermented Milk." Elseveir Science (1991): 45-64.
Beighton, D. "Oral Bifidobacteria: Caries-associated Bacteria in Older Adults." J Dent Res 89.9 Sept. 2010: 970-974.
Delorme, C. "Safety assessment of dairy microorganisms: Streptococcus thermophilus." Int J Food Microbiol 126.3 Sept. 2008: 274-277.
Dupont, A.W. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol Aug. 2011; Epub ahead of print
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Goyal, R. "The Enteric Nervous System." NEJM 334 Apr. 1996: 1106-1115.
Guarner, F. "Gut Flora in Health and Disease." Lancet 361.9356 Feb. 2003: 512-519.
Hadhazy, Adam. "Think Twice: How the Gut's 'Second Brain' Influences Mood and Well-Being." Scientific American Feb. 12, 2010. <http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=gut-second-brain>.
"Health Benefits of Taking Probiotics." The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide Sept. 2005. <http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update0905c.shtml>.
Hickson, M. "Probiotics in the prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea and Clostridium difficile infection." Therap Adv Gastroenterol 4.3 May 2011: 185-197.
Ishibashi, N. "Probiotics and Safety." Am J Clin Nutr 73.2 Suppl Feb. 2001: 465S-470S.
Iyer, C., et al. "Probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri promotes TNF-induced apoptosis in human myeloid leukemia-derived cells by modulation of NF-kB and MAPK signaling." Cell Microbiol 10.7 July 2008: 1442-1452.
Kabeerdoss, J. Nut J 10.138 Dec. 2011.
Kabir, M.A. "Role of Saccharomyces boulardii in diarrhea predominant irritable bowel syndrome." Mymensingh Med J 20.3 July 2011: 397-401.
Kaur, R. Int J Paediatr Dent 10 Feb. 2012: 1363-1365.
Kochan, P. Clin Microbiol Infect 10 June 2011: Epub ahead of print
"Lactobacillus." MedlinePlus. Dec. 9, 2011. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/790.html>.
Margolis, K. Curr Opinions Gastroenterology 25.6 Nov. 2009: 503-511.
National Institute of Health
Picard, C. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 22.6 Sept. 2005: 495-512.
Quigley, E. "Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth: Roles of Antibiotics, Prebiotics, and Probiotics." Gastroenterology 130.2 Suppl 1 Feb. 2006: S78-90.
"Safety of Probiotics Used to Reduce Risk and Prevent or Treat Disease." Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Apr. 2011 <http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/tp/probiotictp.htm#Report>.
United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
United States. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. "Oral Probiotics: An Introduction." Nov. 2011. <http://nccam.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm>.
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Whorwell, P.J. Am J Gastroenterol 10.7 July 2006: 1581-1590.
The World Health Organization
Zhang, W., et al. "Probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus enhances the immunogenicity of an oral rotavirus vaccine in gnotobiotic pigs." Vaccine 26.29-30 July 2008: 3655-3661.
Viewers share their comments
Weight Loss Wisdom
Get tips, recipes and inspiration.