The Benefits of Probiotics Are Probably Bullshit, According to Science

The Benefits of Probiotics Are Probably Bullshit, According to Science
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Gut bacteria is touted as the key to healthy life, able to reduce cancer risk, ease anxiety and treat PTSD, among other things. As such, the global popularity of probiotics has exploded in recent years. But they may be bullshit: As the Guardian reported Tuesday, a study by a team of Danish researchers suggests that healthy individuals shelling out money for trendy lacto-fermented drinks and snacks are probably flushing money down the drain. 

"According to our systematic review, no convincing evidence exists for consistent effects of examined probiotics on fecal microbiota composition in healthy adults, despite probiotic products being consumed to a large extent by the general population," Nadja Buus Kristensen, a Ph.D. student at the University of Copenhagen and a junior author of the study, said, according to the Guardian.

Source: Giphy

Lead researcher, Oluf Pedersen, and his team looked at seven studies that measured the impact probiotics — "good bacteria" thought to improve gut health and often taken in food-, drink- or pill-form — have on poop. 

They reviewed studies that included adults of almost every age (19 to 88) in groups of between 21 and 81 people, according to the Daily Beast. None were taking other supplements and none had a preexisting digestive condition. Comparing feces from people ingesting probiotic drinks, capsules and biscuits with feces from those who weren't, Pedersen and his team found that the probiotic users registered microbially improved poop in only one trial. 

The results may have been clouded by the different types of bacteria participants ingested, as well as by their individual diets. But dietary supplements, which in the U.S. aren't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, are always of questionable efficacy. It's possible that consuming them could mitigate vaginal yeast infections, alleviate irritable bowel syndrome, combat intestinal infections and even boost the immune system, but whether or not probiotics work seems to depend on whether or not there's something there to treat.

"While there is some evidence from previous reviews that probiotic interventions may benefit those with disease-associated imbalances of the gut microbiota, there is little evidence of an effect in healthy individuals," Pedersen said, according to the Guardian.

Sorry.

Source: Giphy

Read more: Your Gross-Ass Contact Lenses Are Filling Your Eyes With Bacteria

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Claire Lampen

Claire is a staff writer at Mic who covers women's issues and reproductive rights. She is based in New York and can be reached at claire@mic.com.

MORE FROM

President Donald Trump turns Boy Scout Jamboree into campaign rally

The president discussed health care, Hillary Clinton, Obama, big yachts and more to 40,000 Boy Scouts and volunteers

This child kept HIV in remission for 8 years without drugs. Here’s what that really means.

More than eight years after his initial treatment, the child is still in remission.

Driver charged with human trafficking after 30-40 people found locked in fatally hot tractor-trailer

The charge against James Matthew Bradley, the alleged driver of the vehicle, could carry a punishment as severe as the death penalty.

Charlie Gard’s parents end legal fight to continue treatment for terminally ill son

The parents have withdrawn their request for Charlie to receive treatment in the U.S.

10th person dies after 38 found locked in sweltering tractor-trailer outside Texas Walmart

8 were found dead at the scene; 2 more died after being rushed to the hospital in critical or serious condition.

Dozens killed in deadly car bomb attack in Kabul

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.

President Donald Trump turns Boy Scout Jamboree into campaign rally

The president discussed health care, Hillary Clinton, Obama, big yachts and more to 40,000 Boy Scouts and volunteers

This child kept HIV in remission for 8 years without drugs. Here’s what that really means.

More than eight years after his initial treatment, the child is still in remission.

Driver charged with human trafficking after 30-40 people found locked in fatally hot tractor-trailer

The charge against James Matthew Bradley, the alleged driver of the vehicle, could carry a punishment as severe as the death penalty.

Charlie Gard’s parents end legal fight to continue treatment for terminally ill son

The parents have withdrawn their request for Charlie to receive treatment in the U.S.

10th person dies after 38 found locked in sweltering tractor-trailer outside Texas Walmart

8 were found dead at the scene; 2 more died after being rushed to the hospital in critical or serious condition.

Dozens killed in deadly car bomb attack in Kabul

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.