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7 myths & misconceptions about probiotics 

- what is and isn’t true?

Person checking myth and misconceptions of probiotics
About probiotics Myths L. CASEI 431® BB-12® LGG® LA-5® UREX™
6 Min read

The probiotics market is growing, but so with it are the number of misunderstandings about probiotics and their benefits. In this article, we address some of the more common probiotic misconceptions.  

Fact

Different probiotic strains have their own specific benefits – check the strain and the daily amount that should be consumed

1) Are all probiotics the same?


No

There are many probiotic products available on the market, often differing due to the probiotic bacteria they contain. Probiotic bacteria all have different properties which means that they each have different and various health benefits. The health benefit of a probiotic product is specific to the particular bacterial strain it contains, and not the more general bacterial genus and species. For example, a product may be labelled Lactobacillus rhamnosus (the genus and species), but whether the strain is the Lactobacillus rhamnosus, LGG® , the very different Lactobacillus rhamnosus, GR-1®, or any other Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain, is not known. 
This is important since health benefits associated with the Lactobacillus rhamnosus, LGG®  strain include immune system support, while the Lactobacillus rhamnosus, GR-1® strain is associated with benefits for women’s urogenital health.
Look for the strain to ensure the right probiotic benefit.
Click to read more on ‘what are probiotics’.
 

2) Are probiotics with more bacteria best?


Not necessarily
 
A probiotic product with more bacteria does not necessarily have more of an impact than a product with less bacteria. Since probiotic bacteria have different properties, some probiotic strains simply exert their specific benefit at a relatively low number of bacteria, while other strains require much more of the bacteria to be consumed to provide their beneficial impact. 

This means it is more important to choose a probiotic that has been scientifically associated with a particular health benefit and to consume those specific bacteria at the quantity that was scientifically associated with the health benefit. This means that the amount of probiotic bacteria needed to be consumed actually depends on the specific strain and the associated health benefit.
Click to read more about probiotics and respiratory tract discomfortloose stools or excessive crying and fussing.

Fact

Choose a probiotic that has been associated with   health benefits in high-quality scientific studies.

3) Do probiotic products with more than one strain work better?


Not necessarily 
Some probiotic products contain more than one probiotic strain, but this does not automatically mean that the product has more of a benefit. Many multi-strain products lack the scientific support for the particular combination of strains they contain. 

Instead, the best probiotic product is the one that contains a particular strain (or particular combination of strains) that has been studied and associated with a specific health benefit.
Click to read more about the Chr. Hansen UREX probiotic blend, or the LGG®, BB-12®, LA-5® or L. CASEI 431® single strain probiotics.
 
Healthy family and probiotics

4) Do all fermented foods contain probiotic bacteria?


No
Fermented foods, such as kombucha, sauerkraut or tempeh, are produced through a process called fermentation. In this process, bacteria (that are naturally present in the food or are deliberately added) transform the original food into a different type of food. For instance, yogurt is made when live, active bacteria are added to milk. Often, however, a fermented food will go through further processing such as pasteurization, baking or filtering. This processing kills the live bacteria, preventing the product from qualifying as a probiotic because it no longer contains live bacteria. 
Further to this, to be classified as probiotic, products must not only contain live bacteria, but the live bacteria must have demonstrated  health benefits in scientific studies, and the products must contain that probiotic bacteria in the amounts that have been scientifically associated with the health benefit.1
 
Despite many fermented foods and beverages not being probiotic, they may still be nutritious and contribute to a balanced diet.
Click to read more on ‘what are probiotics’.
Fact

Remember that different probiotic strains have different health benefits, and that these benefits are not generalizable across all probiotics. 

5) Do all yogurts contain probiotics?


No, not all yogurts
Yogurts can be nutritious and are sometimes a good source of probiotic bacteria, but not all yogurts contain probiotics. All yogurts are made through fermentation, which involves adding live bacteria (i.e., Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus) to milk; however, in the majority of yogurt, these live bacteria are not probiotic bacteria and are therefore not associated with specific health benefits.  
Probiotic yogurt is made when specific probiotic bacteria are also added to the milk. Deliberate addition of scientifically tested probiotic strains at the documented  level ensures that the yogurt contains live bacteria that have been scientifically associated with supporting a specific aspect of health. It also ensures that enough of the probiotic bacteria is added for the bacteria to still be alive on the expiry date. This is key, as the bacteria must be live for the yogurt to be considered a probiotic yogurt, in order that they are able to exert their specific health benefit when consumed. 
 
Probiotic bacteria such as Bifidobacterium, BB-12®, Lactobacillus acidophilus, LA-5®, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, LGG® or Lactobacillus paracasei, L. CASEI 431® can be added during the production of yogurt, making it a source of probiotic bacteria.
Click to read more on ‘what are probiotics’.

 

6) Can probiotics be used together with health care interventions?

Yes
Some health care interventions recommended by a health care professional can affect the health by disturbing the balance of bacteria in the gut. Probiotic bacteria can help balance the bacteria, which may support the health. For example, some health care interventions can result in loose stools, but research has suggested that consuming the Lactobacillus rhamnosus, LGG® probiotic strain or a combination of the Bifidobacterium, BB-12 ® and Lactobacillus acidophilus, LA-5®   may help alleviate the loose stools.2, 3, 4, 5 When supplementing with probiotics, it is generally recommended that the probiotics be taken a few hours after the health care intervention.

Consult a health care professional for more information.

 

7) Are all probiotic strains associated with positive health benefits? 

Yes, by definition, all probiotic strains are associated with a specific health benefit
Probiotic strains are bacterial strains that have been associated with health benefits in human scientific studies. It should be remembered that the health benefits of one probiotic strain in a particular area of health cannot be generalized to other probiotic strains or other areas of health. It is important to remember this when choosing a probiotic.

Read more about what to look for when choosing a probiotic, or click here to read about the Chr. Hansen probiotic strains.

Consult a health care professional to find out more about probiotics and how they may support health.


BB-12®, LA-5®, L. CASEI 431®, LGG® GR-1® and UREX are trademarks of Chr. Hansen A/S.


The article is provided for informational purposes regarding probiotics and is not meant to suggest that any substance referenced in the article is intended to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent any disease.

Our Chr. Hansen probiotic strains

At Chr. Hansen, our strains are backed by science. All of our probiotic strains are supported by clinical documentation. Learn more about the beneficial effects our strains have on different health areas.

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References

1. Hill C, et alNat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2014;11:506. (PubMed)

2. Arvola T, et alPediatrics. 1999;104(5):e64. (PubMed)

3. Vanderhoof JA, et al. The Journal of Pediatrics. 1999;135(5):564-8. (PubMed)

4. Chatterjee S, et alJ Assoc Physicians India. 2013;61(10):708-12. (PubMed)

5. de Vrese M, et al. J Dairy Res. 2011;78(4):396-403. (PubMed)

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