According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), probiotics are live microorganisms that, when consumed or administered in adequate amounts, have beneficial effects on the body. Probiotics are also usually used for the prevention and management of digestive symptoms that may be related to changes or an imbalance in the bacterial community living in our gut, the gut microbiota, such as bloating or discomfort, among others.
In spite of increasing evidence and knowledge about probiotics, so far, it has not been an easy task for doctors to choose the most appropriate probiotic for each case. This is due to the fact that “probiotics” is an umbrella term that covers a huge range of bacterial strains and other microorganisms. It is important to know that the beneficial effects of probiotics are strain-dependent (that is, they are typical of and vary according to each different type of bacteria) and also clearly related to the correct dose being administered for each situation.
The European Society for Primary Care Gastroenterology (ESPCG) has handled this issue by publishing an international guide that, based on solid scientific evidence, identifies a total of 32 probiotics available for a specific number of mild gastrointestinal symptoms in adults. The guide is based on the evidence provided by 37 high-quality scientific studies.
The new guide, presented at the United European Gastroenterology Week held in October in Berlin (Germany), includes the formulation, products and doses of probiotics suitable for each of the conditions to which they have been applied. The guide identifies useful microorganisms for preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhoea, and others that reduce the overall symptom burden of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), as well as improvement in quality of life of these patients. “We are confident that our guide will be helpful for physicians’ daily practice and that patients will benefit considerably,” explained Professor Pali Hungin, from Durham University (UK) and first author of the publication.
We are glad to hear about the publication of this new guide as a tool to increase knowledge on the use of probiotics for the management of lower gastrointestinal symptoms in primary care.