The human microbiome consists of millions of live bacteria. It is unique to each individual and determined as early as at birth. According to recent probiotic statistics, our microbiome can be influenced by our diet, exercise habits, lifestyle, and exposure to different environmental factors.
Our body has both “good” and “bad” bacteria, and their interaction and balance may determine the way we feel and whether or not we will contract a disease. Therefore, to reap the benefits of bacteria, we need to sustain the “good” ones and suppress the “bad” ones. The following article contains facts on the helpful probiotics that support our gut and physical health.
Top 10 Probiotic Facts and Stats
- Ilya Metchnikoff introduced the term “probiotics” around the year 1990.
- The human microbiome comprises over 100 trillion microorganisms and can weigh up to 5 pounds.
- The number of genes in the human microbiome is 200 times the number of genes in the human genome.
- The most frequently used species of bacteria in probiotics are Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium.
- Probiotics slow down “gut transit time” by 12.4 hours.
- L. helveticus and B. longum may reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Probiotics may reduce blood pressure levels if used for more than 8 weeks, according to probiotic statistics.
- Probiotic supplements do not require approval by the FDA.
- In 2018, the global probiotics market value was $48.38 billion.
- Since 2013, the food & beverage industry has accounted for over 90% of the total application market.
- The global probiotic supplements market is expected to reach $7 billion by 2025.
Probiotics: Definition and Concept
1. Ilya Metchnikoff introduced the term “probiotics” around the year 1990.
Metchnikoff observed the health benefits of consuming yogurt made by Bulgarian shepherds.
2. The WHO established the modern definition of probiotics in 2001.
The term denotes “live microorganisms that may comprise different bacterial strains, which, when consumed in suitable amounts, deliberate a health effect on the host.”
3. The human microbiome consists of over 100 trillion microorganisms and may weigh up to 5 pounds.
(University of Washington)
The beneficial microbes in the human body, such as bacteria, fungi, and protozoa, outnumber human cells ten to one, and we wouldn’t see any probiotic supplement benefits without them.
4. The number of genes in the human microbiome is 200 times the number of genes in the human genome.
(University of Washington)
The majority of the representatives of the microbiome live in the gut, particularly in the large intestine.
5. Gut flora is also called the “forgotten organ.”
Some scientists consider the intestinal microbiota a separate organ because of the intensiveness of its metabolic activities.
Different Types of Probiotics
6. Probiotic strains are genetic subtypes of microorganism species.
Usually, you’ll find the abbreviation of the probiotic strain along with the name of the individual strain on the labels of supplements. For example, L. acidophilus stands for the Lactobacillus and the acidophilus species.
7. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the most commonly used species in probiotics.
(Medical News Today)
Although there are many other species, these are the most popular and investigated types of “good” bacteria used in probiotics pills. It’s important to remember that different strains of the same species can have different effects on the body.
8. There are 6 individual bacteria strains frequently found in food and on product labels.
These six “good” bacteria names are B. animalis, B. breve, B. lactis, B. longum, L. acidophilus, and L. reuteri.
9. Saccharomyces boulardii is an example of “good” yeast found in probiotics.
S. Boulardii is used as a medicine, unlike other strains of S. cerevisiae, and it’s also known as brewer’s yeast or baker’s yeast.
How Using Probiotics Benefits Digestive Health
10. The idea of consuming fermented foods to enhance health has been known for centuries.
Long before the discovery of microorganisms, there was a concept of manipulating the human microbiome by using live microorganisms.
11. Numerous diseases are linked to disturbed gut flora.
Some of these conditions include irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), infectious diarrhea (caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites), diarrhea caused by antibiotics, traveler’s diarrhea, Clostridium difficile colitis, etc.
12. Probiotics are being tested for their effectiveness against specific intestinal problems.
Probiotics supplement facts show that the efficacy of a product against conditions such as antibiotic-associated diarrhea, Clostridium difficile infection, infectious diarrhea, IBD (including ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease), irritable bowel syndrome, etc., depends on the study design, whether or not the product contains a single strain or a combination of probiotics, and whether or not the patient using it has any underlying conditions.
13. Probiotics slow down gut transit time by 12.4 hours and increase the number of bowel movements by 1.3 times per week.
One of the probiotic health benefits is that probiotics can help with constipation. Moreover, they can soften stools, making them easier to pass.
Benefits of Probiotics On the Immune System
14. Probiotics affect local and systemic immune reactions.
In such a way, probiotics strains exert various effects on the immune system, but also impact the intestinal mucosa, its barrier function, and the production of antimicrobial peptides.
15. Probiotics metabolize fibers into short-chain fatty acids.
Probiotic flora benefits also include the production of short-chain fat acids, such as butyrate, propionate, and acetate. They exert many metabolic functions but also regulate T lymphocytes found in the gut.
16. Probiotics modulate the cell-mediated and humoral immune responses in the gut.
When becoming a part of the normal microflora, probiotics strains regulate the anatomical-functional unit in the gut and control local inflammation by regulating the production of cytokines in the mucosa and immune cells.
Other Health Benefits
17. Good microbes contribute to the synthesis of some vitamins in the gut.
Creating vitamin K and some of the B vitamins is essential for human health.
18. Some probiotic strains have benefits such as weight reduction.
Studies have shown that specific probiotic strains are associated with obesity or malnutrition. However, more research needs to be done on the interaction between the human microbiota and the host to claim probiotics are good for weight loss confidently.
19. L. helveticus and B. longum may reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
(Gut Microbes Journal)
This fact is based on a study involving people with clinical depression who were using a combination of both strains for 30 days.
20. Lactobacillus strains can restore vaginal flora.
The use of probiotics to populate the vaginal flora with beneficial bacteria was shown as one of the essential probiotic benefits for women. The mechanisms of action are related to inhibiting the growth of urogenital pathogens, bacterial vaginosis, and yeast biofilms.
21. Cholesterol-lowering probiotics are a potential treatment option for some metabolic diseases.
Mainly Bifidobacterium spp. and Lactobacillus spp. have been shown to lower the total and LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol.
22. Probiotics may help reduce the blood pressure if used for more than 8 weeks in a row.
Systematic reviews and meta-analyses of randomized, controlled trials showed that probiotic supplements’ health benefits also include the reduction of high blood pressure, but by a modest degree. When the baseline is elevated, multiple species of probiotics are consumed. The daily consumption dose is ≥10(11) colony-forming units.
23. Research on the use of probiotics for skin disorders, wound healing, and photoprotection is promising.
Although there is some evidence that probiotics can be useful for skin problems, such as acne, rosacea, and eczema, more extensive, controlled trials are required before a final recommendation can be given.
Probiotics as Supplements
24. Probiotics can be taken in several ways.
There are a variety of ways to take probiotics. You can get them through different foods and drinks or as a supplement in the form of a liquid, capsule, powder, etc.
25. The combination of a probiotic and prebiotic is called a synbiotic.
A prebiotic supplement is a component needed to feed and promote the good function of bacteria in a probiotic. Prebiotics are usually complex carbohydrates, such as inulin, pectin, starches, etc. We cannot compare prebiotics vs. probiotics, as it’s best to have them act synergically in a product.
26. Probiotic supplements do not require approval by the FDA.
Since probiotics are not medications, the claims on their labels regarding their safety and effectiveness rely on the goodwill of the manufacturers to perform adequate research.
27. Consuming foods containing probiotics is an excellent way to obtain “good” bacteria.
Certain foods can help you increase the number of beneficial microbes in your body. Probiotics are in foods such as yogurt, buttermilk, sourdough bread, cottage cheese, tempeh, fermented pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso soup, etc. Some of these “good bacteria foods” are very exotic, whereas some of them you probably consume every day, but are not aware of their probiotic properties.
Nevertheless, just consuming them does not guarantee that your diet will be well-balanced. You would still have to eat healthily. Adding foods rich in probiotics in your diet won’t hurt you, and it can also bring benefits, but be careful not to avoid other food groups.
28. People get probiotics from drinks as a natural form of supplementation.
(Women’s health mag)
These drinks are prepared from fermented dairies (such as yogurt or kefir) and fermented vegetables. Probiotics can also be added during manufacturing. The most popular probiotic-containing drinks are yogurt, dairy-free yogurt, kefir, kombucha, apple cider vinegar probiotic drink, gutshot with pressed and fermented vegetables, probiotic soda, and probiotic water.
Probiotics for Kids
29. Giving probiotics to children should always be discussed with a healthcare provider beforehand.
Probiotics studies in children are insufficient because their bodies are still developing, so most of the effects of the supplementation are unpredictable. Moreover, supplements and medicines might interfere with the processes in their body. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should check with their healthcare provider before taking any supplements.
30. A safe way to introduce children to probiotics is through food and drinks that contain them.
Consuming helpful bacteria as a part of a balanced diet doesn’t involve much risk. However, after consultation with a doctor, some children might be required to receive specially designed probiotic formulas.
31. Probiotic benefits for infants involve the modulation of certain medical conditions.
Currently, available evidence shows that L. rhamnosus GG and S. boulardii are very effective in treating acute gastroenteritis and preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea. Other conditions that can be treated with specific strains are infant colic, necrotizing enterocolitis, and sepsis.
However, not all probiotic strains have the same efficacy for all clinical indications and should be recommended based on their proven efficacy and safety.
Probiotics: Side Effects and Risk
32. In general, probiotics are considered safe and well-tolerated by most people.
However, few studies have focused on the safety of probiotics in detail. Moreover, they are investigated mostly in healthy people, so there is a lack of reliable information on the rate and severity of possible side effects. The most frequent side effects are related to digestion and may include gas production and mild abdominal discomfort.
33. Many of the labels on probiotic supplements are not precise.
Probiotic supplements are not regulated by the FDA, but this federal agency doesn’t encourage launching them on the market without doing adequate research beforehand. However, some product labels still misrepresent probiotics, supplement facts reveal.
34. Probiotics can do more harm than good to people with compromised immune systems or severe medical conditions.
(Expert Opinion on Drug Safety)
Probiotics could be potentially harmful to high-risk individuals, including people with HIV, AIDS, premature infants, and the seriously ill and hospitalized.
35. The most significant possible risk to consider when using probiotics is the development of an infection.
Developing an infection is observed most often in immunocompromised individuals. Other complications include developing a resistance to antibiotics and the production of harmful substances by the probiotic microorganisms. Sometimes a probiotic supplement contains microorganisms that are not listed on the label but could pose serious health risks.
Probiotic Sales: Statistics and Facts
36. The global probiotics market size was assessed at $48.38 billion in 2018.
(Grand View Research)
The reasons for that astonishing growth are the development of efficient probiotic strains and the growing customer preference towards preventive healthcare.
37. Probiotic statistics reveal that the global market for probiotics was projected to grow to $52 billion by 2020.
This estimation took into account all forms of probiotic supplementation, including both supplements and foods containing probiotics.
38. The compound annual growth rate of dietary supplements was expected to increase to 7.7% from 2012 to 2020.
(Grand View Research)
This was the estimated CAGR, and it was driven by the United States’ probiotic trends. Statistics also reveal that, during that forecast period, the segment of dietary supplements was expected to be the fastest-growing application segment.
39. Since 2013, the food & beverage industry has accounted for over 90% of the total application market.
(Grand View Research)
Probiotics for human consumption dominated the application market and accounted for over 80% of the total market. Moreover, probiotics have also made significant advances in the animal feed industry.
40. The global market value of probiotic dietary supplements is projected to reach $7 billion by 2025.
The value of the probiotics market was $3.3 billion in 2015, and it is expected to double by 2025.
What are the dangers of taking probiotics?
Although probiotics are considered safe for the majority of people, they have to be taken after consultation with a healthcare provider. The reason for this is that sometimes, they can exert harm such as an infection, antibiotic resistance, and metabolic disturbances.
However, the most common side effects are mild and mostly related to the digestive tract — a temporary increase in gas, bloating, constipation. Some people can also react to some of the ingredients used in the products or those that naturally occur in them, such as amines in probiotic foods.
Is it OK to take a probiotic every day?
If you discussed it with your doctor, don’t have a severe underlying medical condition, and feel well, then yes, it’s OK to take probiotics every day. Some studies even showed that you need to take certain probiotics for eight weeks before you can experience any health benefits.
However, even though probiotics are a natural supplement and not a medicine, it’s better to count on probiotic-containing foods and beverages when it comes to daily use, to reduce the risk of any side effects.
What is the best probiotic to use?
Probiotic supplements should contain at least 1 billion colony forming units. It’s also useful to know that Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, or Saccharomyces boulardii are the most researched probiotics.
Remember to choose foods that are enriched in probiotics bacteria, because most of the microorganisms in yogurt, for example, die in the stomach. Also, it’s preferable to go for a combination of a probiotic and prebiotic called a synbiotic. Most importantly, always seek medical advice from your healthcare provider before taking any probiotic supplement.
Maintaining a healthy gut is of great importance. Therefore, it might be useful to consider taking a supplement. However, contact your healthcare provider before you start taking any, to find out what is the best probiotic for you, how much to take, and when to take it. You can get “good” gut bacteria from a supplement, but remember that many lifestyle habits, such as diet and exercise also may modulate it.
These probiotic statistics show us that supplements offer a wide range of benefits, but we also have to be aware of the possible side effects of taking them. It’s worth knowing how they can improve your gut health and overall well-being since, in the end, it concerns your health.
- Cleveland Clinic
- Euromonitor International
- Expert Opinion on Drug Safety
- Grand View Research
- Grand View Research
- Gut Microbes Journal
- Medical News Today
- Oxford Academic
- Science Direct
- Science Direct
- Stat News
- University of Washington
- Women’s Health Mag