Much of what I concluded in the original article is still true. When so much remains to be learned about probiotics and their ilk, consuming every prebiotic- or probiotic-containing food or supplement available is foolish, as is consuming excessively large quantities of prebiotic or probiotics (or both). I continue to consume yogurt and kefir on a regular basis (and lassi when I can get it), because they are good foods. The fact that all contain probiotics (and often prebiotics) is of somewhat greater importance to me than it was twelve months ago. If you want a change from dairy foods, or don’t consume them but still want to ingest prebiotics and/or probiotics, try unpasteurized fermented vegetables like sauerkraut, or some of the other products described earlier in this article. Don’t neglect the rest of your diet and think you can still remain healthy just because you ingest probiotics, though.
I continue to regard the claims of nutraceuticals and supplements with, well, not so much a grain of salt as with a shaker full. Remember, supplements remain largely unregulated. Regulations on current Good Manufacturing Processes are being phased in, but won’t become fully effective until the summer of 2010. At least until that time, you’ll see overblown claims for supplements (and, I’m sure, for some foods). Stop and think before you buy! If you have questions, USProbiotics.org is a terrific resource; see their FAQ page for guidelines and questions to ask manufacturers.
Prebiotics, probiotics and synbiotics have a lot of potential to positively affect health in the future, but bear in mind that good health has never been a matter of just swallowing a few pills or capsules. It’s a rocky, difficult path that is especially hard to stay on in this society of sedentary lives, stress and cheap, quick food and supplements. And I cannot emphasize too strongly that much more research is needed. More is being done, yes, but many such projects are pilot studies, and not all trials are properly conducted, leaving questions regarding the validity of their results. I believe that prebiotics, probiotics and synbiotics may one day change the way we look at certain conditions, infections and diseases, but magic bullets they are not.
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