Probiotics: $1 Billion In Yearly Sales Could Be A Waste Of Money

Probiotics have been touted as good bacteria that can help everything from weight loss, as reported by the Inquisitr, to clearing up acne. However, new reports are linking probiotics to “snake oil,” with claims that all the products from sparkling waters to yogurt that contain probiotics might be doing little more than acting as a placebo for customers who consume the probiotic products.

As reported by Fortune, probiotics boast many benefits, and have raked in more than $1 billion in sales in the U.S. in 2015. With such boastful claims about probiotic benefits to a person’s health, sales of probiotic products aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. In 2016, the sales of probiotics are expected to increase by 15 percent. However, it is a complicated feat for scientists to truly prove how beneficial — or detrimental — bad and good bacteria might be for the gut.

With the so-called “leaky gut” syndrome reportedly causing good bacteria to flee, probiotics were touted as good bacteria that helps a person’s stomach retain what it needs to thrive. Detractors are now hitting back against some of the claims that say probiotics have a plethora of health benefits.

The critics aren’t convinced that there is sufficient evidence to presume that probiotics make as much of a difference as some claim they do. Those selling probiotic pills and probiotic juices would beg to differ — but critics argue that the acid in the stomach kills off the probiotic “good” bacteria before the bacteria even gets to the intestines to perform any good feats.

A Denmark study by Genome Medicine states that there isn’t much evidence to show any positive effects of probiotic treatments. That doesn’t mean the study is the end-all, be-all last word on probiotics. As eloquently pointed out in a viral examination of scientific studies seen in the below video by John Oliver, this study only used a small sample of people.

As reported by the Guardian, the small size of the study sample on probiotics means further research on probiotics would be needed to clearly claim that probiotics are either beneficial or non-beneficial to adults. The circumstances of the health of the person taking the probiotics also was a factor. Whereas probiotics didn’t present an altered state in the defecation matter of adults in good health who also took probiotics, there was a noted change for folks who reaped the benefits of probiotics that helped alleviate their gastrointestinal symptoms due to “perturbed” microbiota.

Also, it was noted that people might find positive results from eating yogurt if they were taking antibiotics, for example. However, outside of those instances, it isn’t definitively known yet if probiotics perform all the feats that sellers and manufacturers claim they perform. Nor is it truly known if probiotics are worth the caloric content of some of the products, such as juices and the like, come with.

Meanwhile, on Facebook, folks continue to discuss their love of probiotics despite the study. As written by Facebook user Shannon Ellis, she knows her probiotic contents.

“I always find it a little comical when someone from another company messages me or comments something along the lines of ‘you need to check into our probiotics we offer because it’s the best there is.’ Why do I find this comical? The product they are speaking of has a combined total of 300mg of probiotics. The Thrive lifestyle mix alone has 1565mg of pre and probiotics. If you’re going to hit me up about the ‘best products there is’ then at least do your research if that’s your selling point. Apples and oranges people.”

Probiotics For Weight Loss: Why Probiotics Are A $30 Billion Industry Now [Video]

The claims haven’t stopped those who love probiotics from coming to their defense on social media.

As seen in the top photo above, Activa yogurt packages can be seen lining a grocery shelf. Back in 2007 when that photo was taken, Activa was one of loads of new products that touted probiotic contents, or “friendly bacteria,” with claims of health benefits.

[Photo by M. Spencer Green/AP Images]