Probiotics as Dietary Supplements – Are they Worth the Hype?

Probiotics as Dietary Supplements

Our body has both good and bad bacteria. Both are important because the balance between the two keeps us running. Whenever there is an infection or illness, the amount of bad bacteria rises and interferes with this balance. Then, someone is tasked with the job of increasing their good bacteria to get things back to normal again. This is where probiotic supplements come into play. These special products add good bacteria to the body and help you maintain a healthy state. But are probiotics as good as they are promoted to be? To answer this, scientists are consistently trying to establish when and how you should take these supplements.

The Global Probiotics Market is Huge

The industry that sells probiotics is worth 49.4 billion USD, and it isn’t stopping there.

Its value will reach approximately 70 billion 2023. This demonstrates the growing popularity of probiotic supplements among people all over the world. There are several forms of probiotics available in the market. These include:

  • Foods and drinks
  • Capsules and pills 
  • Powders
  • Liquids

Probiotics Are Good, But How Good Are They Really?

Doctors often recommend that people take probiotic supplements to treat gut disorders that conventional medicine fails to tackle. Since the mid-1990s, research has suggested that probiotic supplements can help treat various digestive issues, such as diarrhea in children. They can also help to prevent sexually transmitted infections in women. However, researchers still remain unsure of the effectiveness of probiotic supplements for managing certain health conditions. Probiotics are available in many strains and potencies. Some strains may help for better immunity, while other strains help maintain a healthy gut. Despite ongoing study and encouraging outcomes, additional research is required to make a definitive assertion.

Probiotics as Dietary Supplements

Probiotics Dietary Supplements – Are They Safe?

Unlike medication, probiotic supplements do not need FDA approval. Manufacturers sell supplements by simply making “assumed claims” of their safety and usefulness. So, it’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before taking a probiotic supplement.

In addition to that, probiotic supplements can also interfere with certain medications. So pregnant or breastfeeding women must check with their doctor before taking this (or any other) supplement.

Are Probiotics Recommended for Everyone?

Probiotics are generally considered safe since they only consist of good bacteria that is naturally present in your body. However, some people might experience mild allergic reactions, which may cause a stomach ache. So it’s always better to start with a tiny quantity and increase dosage as you feel more comfortable.

Some people with certain health conditions should use probiotics with caution to avoid the risk of a possible reaction or infection. This is particularly important for people with :

  • A compromised immune system
  • Babies suffering from a severe illness
  • A recent history of surgery

Similarly, there are certain risks associated with taking probiotics, especially if you fall into one of the categories highlighted above. These risks include:

  • The potential for developing an infection
  • The development of antibiotic resistance

Can Children Take Probiotics as a Dietary Supplement?

It’s safe to give your child probiotics and foods that are naturally rich in good bacteria, such as yogurt and cheese since these are usually part of a balanced diet. If your child has been prescribed antibiotics to treat an illness, probiotics can help reduce some side effects of this medication.

Potential side effects of probiotics can include an upset stomach, an increase in acidity of the stomach, and bloating. There are also numerous probiotics specially-made for infants, but it’s best to consult a pediatrician before adding them to your child’s diet.

To Wrap Up

Many people believe there is no harm in trying probiotics to help with your general health. However, it’s important to remember that not all probiotics work in the same way, and they may come along with different side effects. Each supplement has a slightly different formula due to the wide variety of strains, which are associated with certain benefits. Since probiotics generally don’t cause harm, you can safely introduce them to your diet and monitor whether you see a positive change.

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