By ANDREW FRATTAROLI
It can be argued that the most important shift in health in recent years is the focus on gut health and the microbiome. For years, probiotics, basically live bacteria that heals the gut, have been in the news and they have flooded the health and wellness market with supplements.
The New York Times published an article in its health section called, “The Problem with Probiotics” written by Aaron Carroll. It caught my attention because I have my finger on the pulse of the health industry and the latest trends. The article made some good points, but it is also very misleading.
The article says that probiotics have some benefits but because of its loose regulation on the market, there are potential harms in taking them. My issue with this is that it plays down the scientifically proven benefits of taking probiotic rich foods.
Carroll writes, “Probiotics have the potential to improve health, including by displacing potentially harmful bugs. The trouble is that the proven benefits involve a very small number of conditions…” This is incorrect and the evidence that they cite is just a drop in the bucket of studies done on this that show the opposite.
There are health risks, but the way that Carroll describes this risk is confusing. He says that in 2014 a probiotic supplement possibly killed an infant. This single citation reduces the validity of the article because it was not proven.
The other thing that was frustrating was that Carroll makes no distinction until the end of the article between probiotic supplements and probiotic rich foods like kimchi and sauerkraut which have been proven to be very good for one’s health.
This article makes very good points but its points are plagued by blurry information and bad sources.