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The truth about probiotics

Turtle Bay, Manhattan: the United Nations Secretariat building is shown in 2003 (AP Photo/Chad Rachman)

Dear Sir,

As a regular visitor to your beautiful island, and as a scientist who has studied probiotics for more than 35 years, I am heartened to hear more people taking an interest in the micro-organisms that are such a significant part of the human body — our microbiome.

The desire to replenish the beneficial micro-organisms has led to big advances in the science of probiotics and, subsequently, product sales.

However, as the chairman of the United Nations and World Health Organisation expert panel and working group that defined probiotics in 2001, I am concerned with many of the incorrect statements being made about what is and what is not probiotic, or what people should take.

Some of these include sources in Bermuda who may mean well, but clearly do not understand this topic.

Because most probiotics are sold as food or supplements, they cannot make anti-disease claims, but nevertheless, there are some excellent studies showing a range of digestive, cardiovascular, urogenital and skin benefits of specific probiotics.

If you wish to add a probiotic to your health management, I recommend you check out these user-friendly sites that list only products tested in humans, and select one of these or learn more about the subject: usprobioticguide.com; probioticchart.ca; seed.com; and isappscience.org.



(Professor at Western University, Canada)