Are probiotics good for you or a complete waste of money? There are so many apparently contradictory stories about probiotics you'd be right to be confused.
Probiotics are the 'good' strains of gut bacteria that are important to digestive health and our immune system.
Recently there has been a slew of studies showing the health benefits of them. Yet many probiotic products themselves have been criticised.
Only recently scientists at the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) threw out 180 health claims made for probiotics (such as 'maintains digestive comfort' or 'boost defences') on the basis that there simply wasn't enough evidence.
Yet nearly 60 per cent of UK households regularly buy probiotic drinks, supplements and yoghurts, so are they wasting money?While there may be erroneous or unvalidated claims for specific products, many experts disagree with the EFSA stance, says Glenn Gibson, Professor of Food Microbiology at Reading University, a leading authority on gut bacteria.
'There's convincing evidence that the right products will do us good,' he says. Specifically, 'a properly formulated probiotic drink or pills should benefit people who are travelling abroad and coming into contact with different bugs that might upset their system'.
Probiotics will also help anyone taking antibiotics, which kill good bacteria as well as bad, 'or people going into hospital where gut infections are rife'.