Probiotics and the microbiome In recent years there has been a surge in research investigating the human microbiome. Each individual has their own microbiota, the collection of microorganisms that colonise…
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Probiotics available in New Zealand have a range of reported health benefits, and it can be difficult for consumers and healthcare professionals to compare efficacy of different products. Probiotic products contain a variety of bacterial species and strains that interact with our bodies in unique ways and provide different health benefits, and it is important to acknowledge that these strains cannot be compared unless tested in standardised way. Development of an online resource that collates and translates the scientific literature on probiotics into easy-to-understand clinically relevant information would help consumers and healthcare professionals compare probiotic products and make informed decisions.
Research into the health benefits of probiotics has growing interest. Reported benefits of probiotic consumption range from the improvement of intestinal function to immune support. However, trials of probiotics lack the standardisation required to judge efficacy. It is important to acknowledge that probiotic products include a range of bacterial species and strains that can have varied effects. In this article, we address the importance of correctly interpreting trials of proposed probiotics. We discuss the necessity to treat probiotic bacterial strains independently, and to communicate findings consistently through both data reporting and product labelling. Finally, we propose a new approach to study the health effects of probiotics in the future.