Do probiotics really work?
Overall, probiotics are good, but any potential benefits depend on factors such as: Who’s taking the probiotics? Under what circumstances? And what are they aiming to achieve?
There’s no single “healthy” gut profile.
A healthy person’s gut profile (in other words, the different types and amounts of microorganisms they have in their gut) could look completely different than another healthy person’s gut.
Therefore, while probiotics can help you in certain situations, there’s still a lot that we don’t know about how our gut works and what the probiotics can do for it. And when it comes to the overall gut health, I often tend to say that we’re being sold a problem so that we can buy a solution.
There’s still so much we don’t know about the gut microbiome, which makes it impossible to define what the “good” or the “bad” gut health actually is.
Taking a probiotic may be helpful if:
- You’re taking antibiotics.
- You have infectious diarrhea.
- You have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- You have ulcerative colitis.
- You’re being treated for a H. pylori infection.
- You want to reduce your cholesterol/improve heart health.
Probiotics are unlikely to help if:
- You’re dealing with depression, anxiety, or another mental health concern.
- You want to lose weight.
- You have a rash or acne.
- You have GERD.
- You have occasional gas or other digestive issues.
- You’re concerned you have a leaky gut.
- You have a yeast infection or recurring UTIs.
- You want to be the healthiest person on your block.
- You want to “boost” your immune system.