A consumer's perspective

Since this controversy affects so many people personally, with respect to their health, we thought it important to include the perspective of a consumer who has experienced beneficial effects from using probiotics.

When my oldest son was 6, just switching from kindergarten to primary school, he had very high sensitivity towards throat infections, which almost always developed into coughs, difficulties with breathing and fevers, resulting in a lot of days off school. He had experienced this during kindergarten, but we had thought that the transfer to primary school would help, as older children don’t transmit infections as effectively as younger ones. But the problem persisted.

Our doctor suggested we try a probiotic ‘sweet’, selected to combat the bacteria responsible for infections in the respiratory system. It wasn’t very successful because our son chewed the candy instead of sucking it!

But having heard about probiotic products available at supermarkets, like specific fermented milks and some types of yoghurts, we decided to try one and gave it to our son without knowing whether he would like it or not. He liked it very much and he got used to having one every morning, even before his cup of milk.

Now he is 9 years old and I have to say that very rarely he gets sick! He has been consuming this product for three years now and he really likes it (sometimes he drinks two a day). Moreover, he got sick once during one of our summer vacations, when he wasn’t taking the product because we couldn’t find it in the supermarket where we were staying.

I don’t know if this improvement is related to the probiotic he is drinking, to the fact that he is now old and stronger, or to both. However, I will continuing buying this product for my son.

I knew that probiotics could help people recovering their intestinal equilibrium after antibiotic treatment (as long as they are administered a sensible amount of time after the course of antibiotics) but I was surprised to discover that they could help in a such systemic way.

There is one issue I want to highlight here though: probiotics must be consumed continuously to experience their beneficial effects. If you stop consuming them, the population in your gut diminishes and the benefits fade away. This is, of course, costly!

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This article is from the free online course:

Engaging with Controversies in the Food System

EIT Food