Probiotics......Hype or Help?

Hollis Blume and her children love chocolate.

But not just any chocolate!! This chocolate is full of probiotics – “good for you” bacteria with proven digestive benefits.

Blume says,“Kids and adults don’t even know that they are eating chocolates filled with probiotics. It tastes like regular chocolate.”

Probiotics..Hype or Help?
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Chocolate is just one of the many unique ways to get your daily dose of probiotics. There’s fortified pizza crust, coffee, snacks, coated drinking straws, even oral care & skincare products. With the global market for probiotics set to reach more than $32 billion by 2014, gastroenterologist Dr. Shek-Har Challa said he considers probiotics to be the new vitamin.

Dr. Shek-Har Challa says, “Around 30 years ago, we used to take vitamins only if we needed them. Now, we take vitamins because they help you with so many conditions. I believe that's where we are headed with probiotics”

There are literally trillions of strains of probiotics, and research shows the benefits of some go way beyond digestive health.

Dr. Challa said,"We know it decreases the incidence of colds. Women's health, decreased urinary tract infection. Allergies, eczema, and weight loss."

How can you tell whether a product is more hype than help? Registered dietician Erin Palinski-Wade says it can be confusing.

Erin Palinski-Wade says, “The FDA doesn't regulate probiotics, so probiotic supplements and probiotic foods aren't required to label the dosage or the strain of product they contain. Anyone can put a few bacteria in a bottle and say this is a probiotic.”

The key, experts say, is to do your research & stick with products whose labels list specific probiotic strains used. Also, for products like pizza crust and coffee, look to ensure the strains are heat resistant. In addition, look for products that list the “CFUs.”

Palinski-Wade said, “CFUs stand for colony forming units, and it's basically an estimate of the amount of viable bacteria cells in a product or supplement.” Finally, make sure there are enough CFUs per serving to deliver actual health benefits. Dr. Challa said, "There is enough evidence in the literature that one needs three to five billion CFUs on a daily basis.”

9 July 2013