Even as the scope of benefits conferred by various strains of probiotics continues to be researched, in recent years, product development has often jumped ahead of scientific findings. This is evidenced in the sheer volume of probiotic-based products on the market today that include everything from pet food, cosmetics, foods, drinks and “shots.” While some of these products deliver viable bacteria in beneficial amounts, others are ineffective. As a result, the term “probiotics” seems to have been diluted to a mere marketing buzzword.
While improvements in probiotic strains and manufacturing techniques are welcome developments, we need clinical research to validate probiotic supplements’ efficacy. We especially need studies that encompass a combination of strains or specific dosages of colony forming units (CFUs) or show benefits for targeted conditions. These studies should be the driving force behind a manufacturer’s release of probiotic products, not just the need to meet the latest trends or unique applications.
A trend in the probiotic market today is the notion that more CFUs is always better. As a result, there are probiotic products out there that are boasting up to 200 billion CFUs in each capsule (and sometimes more). Yet, no research shows that these high CFU counts provide health benefits. Higher dose probiotics with clinical evidence are a piece of the puzzle of maintaining a healthy microbiome, especially in specific conditions where a higher dose may initially be needed.
What really matters is viability, stability and adaptability. Not all probiotics are made in a manner to guarantee that the bacterial counts will meet the label claim through the product expiration. Without this type of assurance, it’s hard to tell exactly how many bacteria, if any, are alive when a consumer takes a probiotic supplement. It’s also important to ensure the probiotic is resistant to stomach acid. This will ensure that the live bacteria will survive the journey through the stomach and into the small intestines.
The choice of specific probiotic species and strains also matters, since research has shown that different species and strains provide different health benefits. To be effective, the bacteria must be live when ingested and survive to repopulate in the intestines.
Learn more about creating probiotic products based on science by reading the full article in INSIDER’s Probiotic digital magazine.
James LaValle is an internationally recognized clinical pharmacist, author, board certified clinical nutritionist and naturopathic doctorate with more than 30 years of clinical experience. He works with the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB and the Pro Football Hall of Fame village to offer personalized health, wellness, diet and performance strategies. LaValle is best known for his expertise in metabolic and integrative medicine, with a background in natural products, lifestyle drug/nutrient depletion and uncovering the underlying metabolic issues that keep people from feeling healthy and vital. He developed health programs for the fitness industry, health care companies and professional sports teams including Corvette Racing team, Orlando Magic, Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks. LaValle is author of more than 20 books including, “Cracking the Metabolic Code,” “Nutritional Cost of Drugs” and “Your Blood Never Lies.” He has been named one of the “50 Most Influential Pharmacists” by American Druggist magazine. He also serves on the Scientific Advisory Council for Organic & Natural Health Association.