Taking probiotics may not always be a sensible and healthy option. This was discovered in two studies conducted at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. The first study looked at changes to the participants’ mucosa associated gut flora – i.e. the microbiome in the gut periphery – after ingesting probiotics. The volunteers were given a probiotic preparation of eleven strains of the most widely used probiotic families. The research found that the probiotics’ gut colonisation was highly individual. This is significant, in that it demonstrates that probiotics should not be provided as a ‘one size fits all’ supplement to just about anyone and for all kinds of gut issues, a fact we pointed out previously.
In the second study, the participants were first administered a wide-spectrum antibiotic. The changes to their gut were observed and documented. Next, one group of participants was provided with the eleven-strain probiotic preparation, a second group was a ‘watch and wait’ group to let the mucosal microbiome recover on its own. A third group was treated with a fecal microbiome transplant, which consisted of their own bacteria that had been collected before giving them the antibiotic.
In the third group (fecal transplantation) the mucosal gut flora was the fastest to recover. In the ‘watch and wait’ group, the mucosal microbiome also recovered and adopted its normal balance and composition. Normalisation took longest in those participants which had taken the probiotic preparation.
The results demonstrate: If you intend to improve the gut microbiome, you have to be aware of the specific, individual composition of your gut flora, at least regarding the mucosal part of your microbiome. This is how Prof Eran Elinav is quoted in the media. The results suggested “that probiotics should not be universally given to the public as a ‘one size fits all’ supplement”. In an article published by Dr Bernd Wegener on gesunde-bakterien.de two years ago, he wrote: “Standardised food supplements’, as they are referred to, are not wrong in principle but may not deliver the desired outcomes if the compounds do not match the demand for healthy bacteria in the gut”.
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