|Probiotics under urgently needed scrutiny - This is the first study to test for antibiotic resistances and to highlight the discrepan- cy between label claims and the actual number of live bacteria in supplements.|
Unfortunately, this important truth is rarely mentioned in the edutainment articles on probiotics in the laypress and sales pitches you will find all over the Internet.
Another thing, even you may not have thought about yet is however the potential occurrence of antibiotic resistances among the bazillions of bacteria in your allegedly healthy probiotic supplements.
A group of people who thought of this hitherto overlooked problem are researchers from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia and the UCSI University in Malaysia (Wong. 2015). In their recent paper in the scientific journal Nutrition Journal, the international group of researchers are the first to highlight a previously ignored problem i.e. the possibility that certain genes that make bacteria resistant to antibiotics "could transfer to pathogens sharing the same intestinal habitat" - an event that is, as the scientists rightly point out, "conceivable considering the fact that dietary supplements contain high amounts of often heterogeneous populations of probiotics" and could thus "confer pathogens protection against commonly-used drugs" (Wong. 2015).
MRSA in your probiotic supplements?
Against that background and in view of the numerous reports of antibiotic resistant probiotics in food and biological sources, the antibiogram of probiotics from dietary supplements remains elusive.
|Figure 1: Petri dishes from the antibiotic test (top). If the antibiotics still worked on the bacteria in the probiotics, they all should be dead. As you can see (in the graph, as well), that's by no means the case (Wong. 2015).|Even probiotics that help weight loss, could transfer antibiotic resistances.
- Several batches of probiotics from four different brands were also resistant towards streptomycin, aztreonam, gentamycin and / or ciprofloxacin antibiotics (this includes the US and Austrian products, i.e. Cn and Bn, respectively)
- The fifth brand showed a unique resistance towards gentamycin, strepto- mycin and ciprofloxacin antibiotics.
You're not getting what you're paying for!
The problem with antibiotic resistances is yet not the only intriguing result of Wang's study. The researchers analyses also revealed that you're not just getting more (albeit unwanted) ingredients that you're paying for, they also found a significant discrepancy between the enumerated viable bacteria amounts and the claims of the manufacturers.
- Wong, Aloysius, et al. "Detection of antibiotic resistance in probiotics of dietary supplements." Nutrition journal 14.1 (2015): 1-6.