Probiotics: Fact v Myth

Probiotics: Fact v Myth

The human body plays host to a variety of micro-organisms. The largest concentration of these organisms is found in the gastrointestinal tract. In a healthy gut, micro-organisms (gut flora), both good and bad, live in a natural balance, where they play an important role in maintaining digestive system- and overall health.

Did you know:

  • There are approximately 10 times more micro-organisms than human cells in your body
  • If spread out, the microbiota (micro-organisms) in your gut is enough to cover a tennis field
  • Your body plays host to more than 500 different types of bacteria
  • All babies are born sterile, without any micro-organisms, their microbiota only established in the first few months of life

Myths vs Facts:

Myth: Yoghurt is an effective probiotic
A big myth. The minimum effective dose of probiotics required is 100 million colony forming units (CFU’s). Unless one consumes approximately 40 litres of yoghurt daily, most yoghurt products do not contain a sufficient amount of CFU’s to be effective.

Myth: More strains are better
Not necessarily. What’s important is not so much the number of different strains, but the number of viable cells (CFU’s) in the probiotic formulation. In the GIT, the various strains will compete with each other for the limited number of available binding sites.

Myth: Probiotics are for use with antibiotic therapy
That’s about half right, as probiotics are not limited to acute use such as during antibiotic therapy. Probiotics have been shown to be beneficial in a wide variety of conditions including irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disturbances, traveller’s diarrhoea and gynaecological health.

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