3 Common Myths About Probiotics (That Aren't Worth Falling For)
Probiotics - they're today's living, multiplying champions of gut and immune health! Even though the popularity and demand for probiotic dietary supplements and products has skyrocketed in recent years – there are still plenty of probiotic myths in need of debunking.
Myths are interesting things. If you think about, all it takes is a handful of people and a little bit of misinformation to turn a myth from a harmless untruth into a powerful, market altering and sales influencing force – which is why we've decided to tackle a few of the more popular myths surrounding probiotics head on!
Let's take a closer look at the top three probiotic myths that we've encountered time and again!
Probiotic Myth #1 - All probiotic strains are created equal.
When it comes to probiotics, researchers have found that some strains are better than others. For many popular probiotic applications, research has been able to point out that were a specific strain may work well for one application – it may be completely useless in another.
Moreover, researchers have even found that the effects of a specific strain may vary from person to person. With millions of potential gut flora combinations, it's important for consumers and probiotics manufacturers to make sure that the probiotic supplement there has been shown to be capable of meeting their needs.
Probiotic Myth #2 - Probiotic supplements that have to be refrigerated tend to be more effective than those that aren't refrigerated.
While certain probiotics dietary supplements should be refrigerated after opening in order to help maintain their 'freshness' and efficacy (as per any instructions on their label or packaging) – to claim that probiotic supplements that don't call for refrigeration must be less potent is to ignore nearly every recent advancement in the processing and preparation probiotic strains!
There are a number of effective methods for preserving the integrity of probiotic bacteria, many of which don’t call for refrigeration before or after opening. Currently, three of the more popular methods include microencapsulation, cryoprotectants, and genetic modfication – you can read more about all three methods here.
Probiotic Myth #3 – Probiotics and Prebiotics are basically the same thing.
Even though there's only a single letter difference between the two, this last myth couldn't be further from the truth! While both may promote good bowel health, there are some key differences that have to be recognized.
Probiotics (taking their name from the Greek words for "for" and "life") are typically recognized as any microorganism (usually bacteria) that, when taken in adequate amounts, provide some kind of health benefit for the person or animal taking them.1
On the other hand, a prebiotic is typically recognized as being a substance or ingredient (most commonly starches and fibers) that help promote the growth and activity of microflora (usually in the gut). 2
So what's the most significant difference? The easiest way to think about it is this: Where probiotics can serve as the seeds for good gut health, prebiotics can act as the fertilizer to help those seeds grow.
So why is debunking these myths important? Though there are others, there's one simple reason that every supplement manufacture can appreciate: Only informed consumers can make informed decisions.