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Study Finds Probiotics ‘Not As Beneficial For Gut Health As Previously Thought’

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The gut microbiome is the sum total of all the micro-organisms living in a person’s gut, and has been shown to play a huge role in human health. New research has found probiotics — usually taken as supplements or in foods such as yoghurt, kimchi or kefir — can hinder a patient’s gut microbiome from returning to normal after a course of antibiotics, and that different people respond to probiotics in dramatically different ways. In the first of two papers published in the journal Cell, researchers performed endoscopies and colonoscopies to sample and study the gut microbiomes of people who took antibiotics before and after probiotic consumption. Another group were given samples of their own gut microbiomes collected before consuming antibiotics. The researchers found the microbiomes of those who had taken the probiotics had suffered a “very severe disturbance.” “Once the probiotics had colonized the gut, they completely inhibited the return of the indigenous microbiome which was disrupted during antibiotic treatment,” said Eran Elinav, an immunologist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and lead author on the studies.

The scientists also compared the gut microbiomes of the gut intestinal tract of 25 volunteers with that of their stools. They found that stool bacteria only partially correlated with the microbiomes functioning inside their bodies. “So the fact that we all almost exclusively rely on stool in our microbiome research may not be a reliable way of studying gut microbiome health,” said Elinav. In the second paper, the researchers examined the colonization and impact of probiotics on 15 people by sampling within their gastrointestinal tract. They divided the individuals into two groups: one were given a preparation made of 11 strains of very commonly used probiotics and the other were given a placebo. Of those who were given probiotics, he said, “We could group the individuals into two distinct groups: one which resisted the colonisation of the probiotics, and one in which the probiotics colonized the gut and modified the composition of the gut microbiome and the genes of the host individual.”

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