If you’re first thought is ‘a waste of money’, then it could be time to delve a little deeper into the definition of probiotics.
This one’s a little controversial, however, as the word ‘probiotic’ was actually banned from packaging on food after a toughening of EU regulations. Companies touting life-giving yoghurts, drinks and spreads found themselves unable to gain official recognition of their gut-friendly healthy benefits. Essentially, stomach acid probably kills most ‘living’ things in our food (fortunately), so many doubted that beneficial bacteria would even be live and kicking by the time it reached the bowels.
So what does it mean? A probiotic is live bacteria and yeasts promoted as having various health benefits, according to the NHS. The idea is that our digestive system can get clogged with toxins from an unhealthy diet or simply drained of beneficial bacteria following vomiting and diarrhea. Ingesting a ‘probiotic’, which is a culture of good-for-you living microorganisms, can help restore you to health.
However, the UK’s health body goes on to state: “Probiotics may be helpful in some cases, but there's little evidence to support many health claims made about them.”
Famous brands such as Yakult have dutifully removed the word ‘probiotic’ from their marketing, thought they still claim: “The strain [of good bacteria in the drink] is scientifically proven to reach the gut alive”. If it helps you, then so be it. Otherwise, maintain a healthy gut by eating fibre from wholegrains, shredded wheat, seeds, vegetables and fruit.