Houston "Gut Doc" separates fact from fiction about probiotics fad

The doctor said more evidence still needs to be done on just how much of the live probiotics are needed to reap the benefits

By Rachel McNeill - Anchor

HOUSTON - It seems everywhere you turn, there are products on store shelves claiming to contain probiotics such as yogurt, cosmetics, even toothpaste.

Probiotics are live microorganisms that can help boost the "good" bacteria in your gut. They've been around for hundreds of years, but these days, it's a fad that comes with some folly.

Houston Methodist chief of gastroenterology and hepatology, Dr. Eamonn Quigley, literally wrote the book, in fact several books, on probiotics.

Dr. Quigley told Local 2, "There are more misconceptions than truths out there about probiotics. If you have a probiotic out there, you should be able to state that it is live and it maintains life during the duration of the shelf live of that product."

Dr. Quigley said there is data that live probiotic supplements may help with irritable bowel syndrome, high cholesterol, allergies, even colds in studies comparing workers who took probiotics to those who didn't.

He added, "They looked at time of work or absenteeism in relation to cold and flu and (the probiotics) did show an effect. It wasn't enormous, but it was an effect. It was a benefit of the probiotic."

However, Dr. Quigley recommends before buying, read the labels and lean toward reputable companies that provide easy access to research supporting the claims they are making.

"That's a lot of work for the consumer who's standing there in the supermarket saying, 'Am I going to buy this or not?' They're not going to spend a half an hour on their iPhone trying to download the medical literature. So it is difficult at the movement and that's a reflection of the way these things are regulated," said Dr. Quigley.

You may also notice on the packaging that the products claim to have so many billions or trillions of the organisms.

Dr. Quigley said more evidence still needs to be done on just how much of the live probiotics are needed to reap the benefits.

Copyright 2013 by Click2Houston.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.