Probiotics without Prebiotics or Dietary change?

After posting some replies to various tweets on probiotics, I just have to post a though here (ok, perhaps a bit of a rant but I’ll keep it short)…When a person goes through life, eating whatever it is they eat, the gut bacteria they accumulate are those that can survive on what has been eaten. Taking a probiotic, without changing diet, really doesn’t make any sense when you see it clearly. If the diet only supported x,y,z named organisms, and you take a,b organisms in a probiotic-what are they going to eat? If your diet supported a,b they would already be thriving there!

So many research studies evaluate probiotics for a given condition, without considering this fact. I just replied to some tweets about a study (article about it here: evaluating whether probiotics can help reduce drug-resistant organisms. The intervention consisted of one capsule twice a day for two weeks, and nothing else. That is so weak! No prebiotic fibers, no dietary change. Only two weeks of intervention! In fact, the article states that some of the subjects were on feeding tubes, which means that the biggest variable of all, diet, was not controlled for! In other words, this study was accepted as valid, when it is anything but.

Another way to look at it? What if someone threw a half dozen tomato seeds into a bare parking lot, then watched for three days and pronounced that gardening really doesn’t work, because no tomatoes were found. And, they did this without first reading a gardening book or speaking with someone who has successfully grown tomatoes (that would be myself and others who have written books about working with symbiont bacteria, and the thousands who have healed by following probiotic protocols).

Next time you read about how probiotics don’t work for this or that, please consider these variables before believing the probiotic naysayers. And, don’t forget to eat your *fermented* vegetables 🙂

4 thoughts on “Probiotics without Prebiotics or Dietary change?

  1. sue

    Yesterday I was reading in the Symbiont Factor about leaky gut and the epithelial lining/microvilli and how dysbiosis can undo this. Today I was looking at a probiotic that contained MOS. I googled MannanOligoSaccharides and read that it forms a barrier that PREVENTS bacteria from adhering to the epithelial lining. That sounds like the exact opposite of what one would want to happen. If that is correct, why on earth would they want to add it to a probiotic supplement? I can’t find any info to explain this one way or the other so hoped posting it here I would get some insight?? Thanks

    1. Dr. Richard Matthews Post author

      Hi Sue, and thanks for reading The Symbiont Factor! Great question, so let’s dig into it. There are essentially two possible reasons for including Mannose in a probiotic. The most common is that Mannose has been found to reduce bacterial adhesion to mucus membranes, in the bladder. It’s often included (in a UTI-specific formula) with a probiotic and cranberry extract, as the extract does the same thing-making it easier to pass the infectious bacteria in a UTI in the flow of urine, since they can’t stick as well. The second, more obscure reason (a bit more controversial too) is that Mannose seems to make it harder for pathogens like Salmonella to adhere to the intestinal wall, while being more permissive of the Lacto and Bifido symbionts. It is a prebiotic, so it feeds them too, just not as effectively as FOS or GOS does. So, it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. For example, if a patient’s uBiome or GDX results indicated a higher number of pathogens than is safe (like Salmonella or too much Candida), I might recommend some MOS to make the pathogen’s life harder, then some Bifido/Lacto/FOS to build the good guys that inhibit the pathogen regrowth afterward. I hope that makes it a little more clear! great question 🙂 Studies to read about it include:,, plus a decent Wiki page:

      1. sue

        Thanks, I am constantly on the look out for prebiotics, trying to avoid inulin. I just today read about GOS so I will research that now too…

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