Earlier, we discussed the latest study on probiotics, in which researchers said that the live microorganisms “showed promise” in preventing and treating digestive problems – namely, antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD).
In that research, which analyzed 82 separate studies on probiotics and their effects, scientists found a 42% reduction in the risk of AAD in nearly 12,000 case subjects. The study has been picked up by hundreds of media outlets since it was first reported on Tuesday night. And there are a couple of takeaways from the numerous stories that have been published on the subject:
One of the little-discussed parts of this study is that many people don’t know how antibiotics they put in their bodies – whether it be for the relief of allergies, to combat illness or stave off infection – are affecting their health. Roshini Rajapaksa, a gastroenterologist at the NYU Langone Medical Center, said it best when she was quoted in the USA Today on the study:
When people take antibiotics, the drugs kill not only the bad bacteria that cause illness but also the good microbes that help regulate the intestines.
As it relates to probiotics and digestive health, taking a probiotic supplement – one that includes billions of CFUs, preferably across a variety of strains that positively affect various areas of your digestive health – can be beneficial.
While it is true that the manufacturing process for yogurt means it will inevitably contain some probiotic bacteria, this simple fact cannot justify strong probiotics claims. There is a very important difference between probiotic presence and probiotic benefits, which manufacturers tend to ignore. According to Dr. Shira Doron, an assistant professor of medicine at Tufts University:
It’s a huge problem for the consumer to try to make heads or tails of whether the products that are out there really work.
Though this may be true, more and more consumers are taking notice of probiotics – and taking action. In 2009, Dannon, one of the biggest sellers of probiotic yogurts, paid $35 million to settle a class-action lawsuit over probiotics claims made on its products.
It’s also important to note that probiotics aren’t the only ingredient in yogurt – a fact that, if watching a commercial on television or seeing a full-page ad in a magazine, might not be foremost in your mind (which, it seems, is the way yogurt companies want it).
Below you’ll find two labels. Take a close look at the information contained on these labels. Really study them:
The first image is the nutritional information for a leading national brand of yogurt that touts its probiotic benefits. You’ll notice the 120 calories, one gram of saturated fat, five milligrams of cholesterol and the 55 milligrams of sodium in each serving.
The second label? Well, that is the nutritional information for a leading national brand of mayonnaise. Yes, mayonnaise. You’ll notice the 90 calories, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, five milligrams of cholesterol and 90 milligrams of sodium in each serving.
Would you have ever guessed your yogurt had a very similar nutritional profile as your mayonnaise?