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Despite the claim that they work wonders on your hair and skin and boost the health of your immune system, probiotics may not be the miracle supplements we hoped for. Defined as "live microorganisms which confer a health benefit to the host if administered in adequate amounts" by the World Health Organization, these supplements are marketed to the general public and are standard bathroom cabinet fare in the homes of many Americans.
But, as a systemic review published in the open access journal Genome Medicine points out, there is little to no evidence to support the claim that probiotics are actually good for you. "No convincing evidence exists for consistent effects of examined probiotics on fecal microbiota composition in healthy adults, despite probiotic products being consumed to a large extent by the general population," said Nadja Buus Kristensen, Ph.D. student and author of the study, as quoted by BioMed Central.
Kristensen worked closely with a team of researchers from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research at the University of Copenhagen on the review. The team examined the effects of probiotics on the fecal microbiota of healthy adults, finding little difference in health between adults who had ingested them and those who hadn't.
"You are wasting your dollars [on probiotics]," said Oluf Pederson, another author of the review, to Vogue. "We can get everything we need by focusing on our diets and making sure [the foods we eat] have a healthy combination of probiotics." He recommends probiotic yogurt as well as berries and vegetables.
Are probiotic supplement pills a regular part of your diet? Share your thoughts on the research below.