The Atlantic

At Last, A Big, Successful Trial of Probiotics

A large Indian study of 4,500 newborn babies found that the right microbes can prevent a life-threatening condition called sepsis.
Source: Danish Siddiqui / Reuters

For all the hype that surrounds them, probiotics—products that contain supposedly beneficial bacteria—have rarely proven their worth in large, rigorous studies. There are good reasons for this disappointing performance. The strains in most commercially produced probiotics were chosen for historical reasons, because they were easy to grow and manufacture, and not because they are well-adapted to the human body. When they enter our gut, they fail to colonize. As I wrote in my recent book, they’re like a breeze that blows between two open windows.

But even though probiotic might be underwhelming, the probiotic is sound. Bacteria can beneficially tune our immune systems and protect us from disease. It’s just a matter

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