Live cultures have been getting a lot of coverage in the media in recent weeks. Starting with the fabulous Horizon programme (read more about this in the Probiotics Learning Lab) on the 27th of August, and continuing last week with a write-up in the Daily Mail, and then another article featured in the same paper today.

'For every day' was recommended in the Daily Mail

We love that live cultures are enjoying the limelight at the moment, even if some of the reports are slightly conflicting. The article featured in the Daily Mail last week mentioned how 6 out of 7 live cultures products failed at least one or more of a set of three clinical tests, devised and run at University College London. (We would like to highlight that OptiBac products were not amongst those products that were tested). Healthcare practitioners can read a write-up on the article here.

The article in today’s paper was a lot more positive. It posed the question; ‘Should you take probiotics?’, and answered in short that experts believe that they can be helpful, but that consumers need to be careful which ones they pick. It went on to say that experts believe that we should select the correct strain of bacteria for our particular health condition or symptom. We could not agree with this more. The whole ethos of OptiBac Probiotics is based around selecting the correct product for your specific symptoms. This is why we have such a broad range.

In the ‘What's best for you’ section at the end of the article, the Daily Mail recommended two of our products to its readers.

Our ‘For travelling abroad’ was given the thumbs up in the travel category, as helping against traveller’s diarrhoea, or reducing the duration of symptoms if you do happen to be struck down.

For every day’ was recommended as an all around ‘bacteria booster’, for when consumers are looking for a good multi-strained product.

One area where the article did differ from our own opinion however, was where Professor Bjarnason, a Professor of Gastroenterology from King’s College Hospital London, mentioned that live cultures supplements should be taken on an empty stomach.

He stated that having food in the stomach when you take a probiotic capsule slows down the passage of the supplement through the stomach, and therefore exposes it to the harsh acidic environment for longer.

testing flasks
Surviving the acidic conditions of the stomach

We would counter that by saying that even though gastric emptying is slowed by the presence of food, that same food presence actually buffers the extreme acid conditions of the stomach, raising its pH and therefore offering a degree of protection for the bacteria. For this reason, we recommend that the best time of day to take friendly bacteria supplements is with breakfast.

Professor Bjarnason also suggested that the efficacy of freeze-dried friendly bacteria supplements was ‘difficult to measure', and that instead consumers should look for products containing ‘live bacteria’. All of our products are freeze-dried, however we still consider the bacteria to be ‘live’. The freeze-drying process simply puts the bacteria into a state of ‘suspended animation’. Once they are rehydrated in our gastric secretions and bought back up to temperature, they resume their life cycle. Clinical trials have proven both their ability to adhere to the gut wall and the fact that they survive transit through the gut alive.

Aside from these two minor points, we are just happy to see live cultures getting the recognition they deserve for their ability to support good health.

It is real progress that live cultures are in the press as much as they are at the moment. Anything that helps to raise awareness of the importance of gut health in general, and more specifically the microbiome can only be a good thing, as far as we are concerned. Long may it continue...

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