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Do probiotics really improve your health?

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·Editor-in-Chief, Lifestyle
Updated ·4-min read
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Probiotics. (PHOTO: Shopee, iHerb)
Probiotics. (PHOTO: Shopee, iHerb)

You've probably consumed probiotics at least once or more times in your life, often in foods like yoghurt, capsules and gummies marketed as healthy candies. Probiotics are 'live' bacteria and yeasts that keep your gut healthy. The most common probiotics are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which you can find in yoghurt and fermented foods. Different strains can help aid your digestive system, especially for those who are lactose intolerant and have irritable bowel syndrome.

In an email interview, Rachel Fan, Chief Executive Officer at GenieBiome Limited, shared that probiotics are well recognised for their benefits in promoting gut health, such as the relieving of diarrhoea, constipation, and gastrointestinal discomfort. "Given their efficacy for improved regulation of inflammation in our body, clinical studies have demonstrated their ability to alleviate the symptoms of acne and eczema. Hence, they are beneficial both for skin and gut health. Having said that, the functions of probiotics are not limited to these two areas," she added.

Bacteria lead to quicker recovery

Several study trials showed that people with coronavirus had enhanced recovery after taking probiotics. A trial done in Mexico resulted in participants with coronavirus who took a combination of probiotics bacterial strains recovering quickly compared to others who took a placebo.

Fan echoed the efficacy of probiotics: "During the pandemic, scientists from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) found that probiotics, if precisely selected, have significant implications for boosting immunity and combating the novel virus. A patent microbiome immunity formula (SIM01) pioneered by the Centre of Gut Microbiota Research under CUHK has proven its efficacy in hastening the recovery of COVID-19 and enhancing immunity against the novel virus."

However, more studies are needed to validate whether probiotics can be properly considered to treat COVID-19.

(PHOTO: Getty Images)
(PHOTO: Getty Images)

What probiotics to take now

For someone new to the idea of probiotics, it is important to understand how probiotics benefit our health, as shared by Fan: "Our gut is known for its digestive function. However, few know that approximately 70 per cent of our immune cells reside in this part of the body. Roughly 100 trillion good or bad bacteria live in our gut, constituting our gut microbiome. A healthy gut microbiome produces metabolites that have positive impact on our metabolism, immune system regulation, and protection against pathogen invasion. When the delicate balance of our gut microbiome is disrupted (also known as dysbiosis) by factors such as stress, unhealthy diet and poor lifestyle, our immunity is compromised, weakening our ability to ward off viruses."

She recommends a microbiome formula that can effectively replenish the deficient beneficial bacteria and restore the disrupted gut microbiome. "Microbiome formula is classified as a food supplement in many countries with a proven safety record. To ensure the effectiveness of probiotics, one should pick a microbiome formula with scientific support and suitable for their demographic group. For example, the microbiome immunity formula developed (SIM01) by CUHK is tailored for Asians based on ten years of research, and 1000+ gut microbiome metagenomic sequence big data. The Bifidobacterium strains selected are proven to have an optimal impact on the gut microbiome of Asians," she shared.

Living a healthy lifestyle

On top of exercising well, one is also advised to look after our diets, especially the foods we consume daily. "Diets are vastly different from country to country. Some diets may increase the risk of gut inflammation and weaken our defence against infection. For instance, a high intake of sweet and oily foods, refined grains, fried and processed foods, red meat and high-fat dairy products, and a lack of fruits and vegetables will likely negatively impact the gut microbiota. Conversely, healthy food such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, eggs, fish and unsaturated fats which are rich in fibre, oligosaccharides, minerals, vitamins and amino acids, can promote beneficial gut bacteria," Fan stressed.

Here are several probiotics that are available on the market.

1. G-NiiB Immunity+ (Free 6 Sachets) Probiotics+Prebiotics with Bifidobacterium Adolescentis Immunity Boost for 28 days

S$89 at Shopee

G-NiiB Immunity +. (PHOTO: Shopee)
G-NiiB Immunity +. (PHOTO: Shopee)

2. Holistic Way High Strength Probiotic 75 Billion

S$90 S$150 at Shopee

Holistic Way Probiotic. (PHOTO: Shopee)
Holistic Way Probiotic. (PHOTO: Shopee)

3. California Gold Nutrition, LactoBif Probiotics, 30 Billion CFU

S$24.65 S$29 at iHerb

California Gold Nutrition, LactoBif Probiotics. (PHOTO: iHerb)
California Gold Nutrition, LactoBif Probiotics. (PHOTO: iHerb)

4. Now Foods, Probiotic-10, 25 Billion

S$43.97 at iHerb

Now Foods, Probiotic-10. (PHOTO: iHerb)
Now Foods, Probiotic-10. (PHOTO: iHerb)

5. LoveBug Probiotics, Women's Health Probiotic, Daily Probiotic

S$30.22 at iHerb

LoveBug Probiotics, Women's Health Probiotic. (PHOTO: iHerb)
LoveBug Probiotics, Women's Health Probiotic. (PHOTO: iHerb)

6. Flora, Children's Probiotic

S$28.36 at iHerb

Flora, Children's Probiotic. (PHOTO: iHerb)
Flora, Children's Probiotic. (PHOTO: iHerb)

7. Dr. Ohhira's, Professional Formula Probiotics

S$51.23 S$68.31 at iHerb

Dr. Ohhira's, Professional Formula Probiotics. (PHOTO: iHerb)
Dr. Ohhira's, Professional Formula Probiotics. (PHOTO: iHerb)

8. Trace Minerals, Probiotic, 55 Billion

S$45.31 at iHerb

Trace Minerals, Probiotic, 55 Billion. (PHOTO: iHerb)
Trace Minerals, Probiotic, 55 Billion. (PHOTO: iHerb)

The content on this page is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek advice from a qualified healthcare provider on queries regarding a medical condition. Any action taken by you in reliance on or in connection with this content is solely at your own risk.

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Originally published
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