Are Probiotics Worth It?

By Professor David Russell and Charlotte Harbour, Registered Nutritional Therapist mBANT CNHC

Gone are the days when the only time you heard of “good bacteria” was on an advertisement for supermarket yogurt drinks! There is now an abundance of probiotic products on the market, ranging from our mainstay dairy yogurts to coconut kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, supplemental capsules and even probiotic skincare to support good bacteria on the skin.

Today, we’re here to give you a quick overview of probiotics and whether they’re worth the investment.

So, what are probiotics? They are beneficial live bacteria that support health in a variety of ways. The collection of bacteria in our gut, both beneficial and not-so-beneficial, is called the microbiome. We don’t want too much non-beneficial bacteria in our microbiome at one time, because it can contribute to bloating, belly ache, toilet troubles and even skin issues (to name a few). We have microbiomes elsewhere in our body too – such as our skin and mouth.

Eating or taking probiotics are one method of ensuring our microbiomes have a good balance of bacteria. From a functional nutrition perspective (a bespoke whole-body approach), we know that an imbalanced gut microbiome can contribute to conditions including food intolerances, migraines, low energy and fatigue, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances and even problems losing excess weight.

So, are probiotics worth it? We say yes, but with a few caveats: probiotic foods are an excellent addition to the diet for most people, with a few exceptions such as those sensitive to histamine (as some fermented foods can contribute to the ‘histamine load’) and some with a condition called SIBO. Not all probiotic supplements are created equal, with there being specific strains for specific therapeutic uses.

We’d love to chat more with you about this, if you’re interested. You will find us as @russellpartnership on LinkedIn, where we’ll be chatting more about nutrition and wellbeing. Stay well, from the RP Team.

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