We have all seen the commercials and advertisements for “probiotics” to improve our health and treat diseases, such as diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, and even cancers and obesity. Web-based testimonials and claims of “scientific” reports have built probiotic consumption into a multi-billion dollar industry in the U.S. and other westernized countries. But are these products really supplying us with any measurable health benefit? What do the scientists have to say, based on their research?
Completing this activity will assist you in mastering Module Level Outcomes 1 and 2.
Be sure you have read these materials:
- Wood, M. (2014) Do Probiotics Work? Science Life, University of Chicago, Medicine and Biological Sciences
- Probiotics Pros and Cons, Berkeley Wellness, University of California, 2014
- Probiotics: In Depth, National Institute of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine
- Christensen, N. B., Byrup, T., Allin, K. H., Nielsen, T., Hansen, T. H., & Pedersen, O. (2016). Alterations in fecal microbiota composition by probiotic supplementation in healthy adults: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Genome Medicine, V8, Issue 52.
- You are required to read the Abstract, which includes abbreviated Background/Methods/Results/Conclusions, but you also might want to look over the full-length Background and Conclusion sections.
Recall from Module 1:
- Achenbach, J. (2015). National Geographic, V227. Achenbach, J. (2015, 03). The age of disbelief. National Geographic, 227, 31-32, 34-37, 39-42, 44-47.
In this Module 1 reading by Joel Achenbach, recall that we learned about:
- “Confirmation bias”: when we tend to select for information that supports our currently held beliefs
- Pressure from advertising that indicates our “tribe” believes this and does this, so we should believe and do this, as well
- The tendency to have a strong attachment to anecdotes instead of research results based on statistics that may seem counterintuitive
In this discussion, we will test Achenbach’s hypotheses by collecting our own data on why some people believe that probiotics, as incorporated into our food or sold as supplements, are an important component of a healthy lifestyle.
Conduct a poll of your family, friends, and/or co-workers (try to interview at least 3 people who answer yes to the first question), asking them these questions:
- Do you regularly take or use any probiotic supplement products, such as capsules or yogurts, etc.?
- If you do, what particular health benefit do you think you are getting from this product?
- If not, why don’t you use these supplements?
- If I told you that all the scientific research to date shows no added health benefit of any kind for these probiotic products for the average healthy person, would you continue to use them? Why or why not?
Finally, submit as your initial post:
Write a summary report of your findings. Be sure to include:
- How many people you interviewed. Of this number, how many did and did not use probiotics? Include a percentage for each of these numbers.
- What were the main reasons cited for probiotic use?
- What were the main reasons provided for not using probiotics?
- What was the response to item “d” about the scientific research on probiotics? Would people change their behavior, why or why not?
- Does your data align with Achenbach’s claims about human behavior? Why or why not?
The final question (#5) should be the focus of your discussion with your classmates.
Your initial post responding to this assignment should be no shorter than 250 words. Include both in-text citations and complete APA style references for all the sources you used to inform your work.
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