Quite recently there’s been a spike in conversation about probiotics and the benefits of this so called scientific savior. Probiotics have often been endorsed by celebrities, influencers, and health gurus on Instagram, but what are probiotics exactly? Let’s break it down: Pro, meaning good and biotic, living things. Probiotics are these little microorganisms that help introduce “good” bacteria back into our gut and provide a balance in our digestive tract. The introduction of this bacteria can be especially helpful after contracting a virus or if you are having sensitivities in your digestive tract. 

What's the Big Deal?

Okay, so what makes probiotics so special? In a way you can compare them to antibiotics; there are multiple strains of bacteria to fit the needs of an individual. Specific strains can target certain symptoms an individual might be having such as constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and diarrhea.

This is great news if you wish to pinpoint your gastric issues, but the potential downside that consumers face is that there are multiple, private probiotic companies that are marketed online claiming that X strain helps with IBS, while another company claims strain Y helps with IBS. This is a difficult feat, because how does one know which strain to ultimately choose?

The Issue

We often trust companies when it comes to science related products; partially because most consumers aren’t experts in the field, so we want to believe the company is releasing products that actually deliver results. The downside of this is that companies often hide their clinical trials, methods, and study designs since the FDA does not oversee or enforce regulations on dietary supplements. The lack of regulation is how multiple companies bypass doing effective clinical trials, getting good research and results that overall can help a population. 

I recently asked The Nue Co, a company that sells probiotics, if they would release their clinical trials on their product. The initial response was a little surprising: “Unfortunately, I cannot share that information”. However, after leaving a review on the companies' website that wasn't 5-star, the founder eventually reached out to me and shared the type of spore that they use in their probiotic along with the clinical trial. While this is progress, it's frustrating as a consumer to jump through hurdles to obtain significant information on a product that should be readily available before you purchase.

The Bottom Line?

The truth is, you cannot trust everything you see endorsed on social media or even in the news. While the minimalist and trendy designs of these private companies look enticing, their science may not back their product at all. Unfortunately, you as the consumer have to do your research regarding probiotics, even if that means reaching out to your local doctor regarding digestive tract issues you may be facing. Keep in mind, you don't always have to take probiotics in order to have a healthy gut! Leave that assessment to the doctors.