M7D1: Probiotics: Myth or Miracle?
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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? (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. Science Life, University of Chicago, Medicine and Biological Sciences
- Probiotics Pros and Cons (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., Berkeley Wellness, University of California, 2014
- Probiotics: In Depth (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., 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 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. 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:
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. Once you have posted your own discussion response, you are required to comment on the posts of at least two of your classmates. You can agree or disagree with their posts, but you must explain why you have chosen to do so. Also, be sure to read the feedback on your own major postings and reply to it throughout the module.
Always be sure that your posts are respectful, polite, and considerate. Please see the Excelsior policy “Guidelines for Online Interaction (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.” if you have any questions or concerns.
You are also encouraged to do your own research through our library on the topic. Do not forget to include in-text citations and complete APA style references for all sources. The Excelsior Library Citation Tip Sheets and Resources (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. will be a helpful guide. You may also wish to use a citation generator – you just insert the information, and it creates the citation in the format you indicate (MLA or APA, for example). Here are 3 citation generators to choose from:
- Citation Machine (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
- Bibme (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
- EasyBib (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Your initial post is due by Thursday at 11:59 PM EST. Your responses are due by Sunday at 11:59 PM EST.
Consult the Discussion Posting Guide for information about writing your discussion posts. It is recommended that you write your post in a document first. Check your work and correct any spelling or grammatical errors. When you are ready to make your initial post, click on “Reply.” Then copy/paste the text into the message field, and click “Post Reply.”
This is a “post first” discussion forum. You must submit your initial post before you can view other students’ posts.
To respond to a peer, click “Reply” beneath her or his post and continue as with an initial post.
This discussion will be graded using a rubric. Please review this rubric prior to beginning your work. View the rubric by clicking on the gear icon at the top right side of this page or on the Course Rubrics page within the Start Here module. All discussions combined are worth 30% of your final course grade.Image credit:
Prebiotic and probiotic food products. Credit: Cordelia Molloy/Science Photo Library/Universal Images Group. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest: http://quest.eb.com/search/132_1251878/1/132_1251878/cite