Our expert says:
Hi Este, A very good question.
Probiotics are not currently regulated in South Africa and quite honestly it is difficult for a consumer to judge. It is best to ask your Doctor or pharmacist what they recommend, because many claims being made currently, cannot be substantiated.
If one considers the current WHO (world health organization guidelines) the following is important:
Saftey, Quality and Clinical efficacy:
1. Probiotic health benefits are strain specific. This means that before a specific health claim is made for a specific strain of probiotic bacteria (the strain should be stated on the label copy), proper scientific trials or tests must have been conducted and published in respected scientific journals.
i.e documented and clinically validated health effects
2. To be called “probiotic” the strain of bacteria used should comply to all of the following criteria:
• Human origin
• Acid and bile stable
• Secrete an antimicrobial substance
• Adhere to the lining of the gastro-intestinal tract (GIT)
• Colonise (or grow) in the GIT
• Stable for the duration of the claimed shelf life
• Documented safety data
• Modulation of immune response
Regarding yogurts per se’: generally so-called starter cultures used in yogurts are not considered “probiotic” they simply impart characteristics such as thickness, slightly sour taste etc to a yogurt. However additional “probiotic” cultures are added to some yogurts. If used within the shelf-life this is a good option. The only problem is the shelf life is very limited (approx 2 days) after which the concentration of probiotic cannot be guaranteed. It is for this reason that supplements are easier, if you take a good one, you will get the required dose!
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