Imagine a world that has existed since the beginning of time and yet has only been unearthed within the last century. This world can only be seen and observed under powerful microscopes and yet it impacts our lives on a daily basis. Let me introduce you to about 100 trillion friends you didn’t even know you had. They are probiotics and like it or not, they’re inside you. If you’re scratching your head right now muttering “probiwhatics?,” you are not alone. Much of the world has yet to hear of the amazing lifeforms living within us!
pro•bio•tic: beneficial bacteria that if successfully introduced to the digestive tract can confer health benefits to the host.
If that definition seems a little dry, it’s because it is! It is a boring definition but the implications are staggering. There are three parts to it, let’s break them down:
- The probiotic must be safe
- The probiotic must make it to the small/large intestines alive.
- The probiotic must deliver actual health benefits to the host.
The probiotic must be safe
Let’s consider first the very idea that bacteria can be not only safe, but beneficial! Most of us are used to thinking about bacteria as disgusting little critters that make us sick, miserable, and would kill us if given the chance. Nothing could be further from the truth. While it is true that certain strains of bacteria such as e.coli, listeria, and salmonella, are extremely dangerous and even deadly in the right conditions, they really are the exception and not the norm. Truth be told, we have massive amounts of bacteria living on our hands, inside our noses, on our arms, and in our intestinal tract. Wait! Don’t run off to jump in the shower, you’re not going to wash these little critters away. Plus, even if you could, you wouldn’t want to because they are there for a reason. To protect you. In fact, if you were to kill all the bacteria in your gut, guess what would happen? That’s right, the bad guys (dangerous bacteria) would move in right away and start wreaking havoc. Bacteria, it turns out, are very territorial life forms and the good bacteria (probiotics) are there to defend you, against the nasty ones. Basically, to summarize the first part of the definition, some bacteria are good for you. These are the bacteria you want to have around.
The probiotic must make it to the small/large intestines alive.
The next part of the definition refers to a beneficial bacteria being successfully introduced into the digestive tract. Now this part is key because another misconception of bacteria is that they are always hard to kill. This just isn’t true. In many cases, bacteria are quite easy to kill. Take, for example, antibiotics. Their only job is to kill bacteria and they are usually very good at it. The problem is antibiotics don’t discriminate between good bacteria and bad bacteria, they just kill it all. In fact antibiotic means anti (to be against) bios (life). But antibiotics are only one of many things that can kill bacteria. Conditions like high temperature and long term storage are other factors that can kill bacteria, both those that are good and those that are bad.
One of the most effective means of immune defense our body utilizes is that of low pH stomach acid. Gastric (stomach) secretions are as acidic as battery acid and have two basic functions. One is to use the acidic conditions to aid in nutrient digestion and breakdown. The second function is to be a “front line” of defense against ingested hazardous bacteria. If you eat something with bad bacteria in or on it, (trust me you have) stomach acid is usually a pretty good defense at killing the bacteria before it makes you sick. However, much like the antibiotics, stomach acid doesn’t pick and choose which bacteria to kill, it destroys both the good and the bad. Therefore getting probiotics to successfully colonize the digestive tract means using a probiotic that can survive, at least in part, the trip through the gut.
So far we haven’t even discussed health benefits. All we have stated up to this point is that a probiotic has to be safe (ie won’t kill/maim/sicken host) and be able to endure the journey through the GI tract. However, none of those items even matter if the probiotic doesn’t deliver health benefits. To put it another way, what’s the point?
The probiotic must deliver actual health benefits to the host.
This leads us to our final misconception that can be put to bed right now. The misconception is that all probiotics furnish the same health benefits. Just as each bad bacteria makes us sick in a different ways, the good bacteria help us in different ways as well.Some probiotics deliver digestive enhancement, others send immune support, some protect against ulcers, and still others can clear up Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The reality is that there are probably thousands of uses for probiotics yet to be discovered.
Being that there are thousands and thousands of available probiotics, the choices of which ones to choose can be a little overwhelming. A helpful tip in deciding which probiotics to include in your supplement cupboard would be those that deliver two or more health benefits per product. This can be done two different ways. A particular strain may have several health benefits that have been extensively studied or the supplement may contain several strains each with a different job to do.
For nearly a decade, Mt. Capra has been on the cutting edge of probiotic science with their Caprobiotics™ supplement line. This line of products includes Plus+™ and Advanced™ and each contain six different, safe, hardy, and effective strains of good bacteria. The colony forming units (cfu) counts range between 10 and 24 billion per serving.
However in recent months Mt. Capra has been thrilled to offer a new strain of probiotic that takes a whole new look at how these helpful microorganisms ought to be delivered. The probiotic strain referenced here is that of Bacillus coagulans GBI-30-086 also know as Ganeden BC30™.
This microbe conforms to all of the criteria needed to be a probiotic. It has been clinically proven to be safe1 (50 years of use) but it offers not one or two but five health benefits.
BC30 has been shown to:
- Reduce problems related to IBS2,3
- Manage arthritis pain4
- Regulate microbial health in gut5
- Stimulate the immune system6
- Aid digestion7
While having 5 benefits at once would be more than enough to be excited about, we are even more excited about the fact that this microorganism is heartier than any we’ve encountered to date. While most probiotics are susceptible to the acidic conditions of the gastric environment and environmental conditions like heat, (see above) BC30 is not. The strain isn’t vulnerable to these threats because it is a spore bacterium. This is the probiotic that can take all sorts of abuse! BC30 can take it because it forms a spore, a hard, shell-like seed, which can hibernate during long periods of shelf life and survive the acid of digestion. Therefore, the two most common causes of probiotic death (heat and acid) are no match for the spore protecting this bacteria. Once you consume BC30 , the probiotics will survive the transit through the stomach acids and flourish in the digestive system. While in the intestines, the bacteria germinates and produces L+ lactic acid (a good thing) which displaces other undesirable strains and allows the probiotic to go to work delivering health benefits!
This is really a revolutionary way to deliver good bacteria because most supplements rely on sheer numbers to do the job. For example, if BC30 were a traditional probiotic and at least 500 million CFU’s were needed to do the job (confer health benefits) then it would be best to take around 10 times this much (5 billion CFU) to ensure that at least 10% made to the digestive tract alive.
However, BC30 doesn’t have a 10% delivery rate, it has a 98% delivery rate! Plus it requires no refrigeration and has a shelf life of up to two years!
Mt. Capra has included the BC30 in our instant, goat milk yogurt, Yo-Quick!™ as well as our daily electrolyte, protein, and probiotic supplement known as DEEP2 30™. Both of these products deliver the required 500 million CFU per serving. (Remember that with a 98% viability rate, high levels of probiotic numbers are not needed.
At their core, probiotics are far more vital to our health than anyone yet understands.
We are only beginning to scratch the surface of what these little critters can do. I predict that soon, probiotics will be as legitimate part of mainstream medical science as antibiotics have become. Even within the last decade, the probiotic knowledge has grown exponentially within the fields of research and general public knowledge. Probiotics are poised to be the next big thing in the health sciences. Yet for all the fanfare, they’ve been cheerfully doing their job for millennia without any recognition. That is all about to change.
Here’s to your health!
Joe Stout, M.S., received his Bachelors of Science degree in Human Nutrition and Food Science from Washington State University and a Masters of Science degree in Clinical Human Nutrition. He has written for various magazines and is the editor of The High Road to Health newsletter. A nutrition teacher and speaker, he lives in Spokane WA with his beautiful wife and 3 wonderful children.
- One-Year Chronic Oral Toxicity With Combined Reproduction Toxicity Study Of A Novel Probiotic, Bacillus Coagulans, As A Food Ingredient Food and Chemical Toxicology Article in Press J.R. Endresa, I. Qureshia, T. Farberb, J. Hauswirthc, G. Hirkad, I. Pasicsd, A.G. Schaussa [↩]
- Effects Of A Proprietary Bacillus Coagulans Preparation On Symptoms Of Diarrhea–Predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol 2009; 31(10): 655–659 B.J. Dolin [↩]
- Bacillus Coagulans Significantly Improved Abdominal Pain And Bloating In Patients With IBS Postgraduate Medicine, 2009; 121(2): 119–124 Larysa Hun [↩]
- Bacillus coagulans : A Viable Adjunct Therapy For Relieving Symptoms Of Rheumatoid Arthritis According To A Randomized, Controlled Trial. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2010, 10:1 David R Mandel1*, Katy Eichas2, Judith Holmes1 [↩]
- Use Of A Continuous Culture Fermentation System To Investigate The Effect Of GanedenBC30 Bacillus CoagulansGBI-30, 6086) Supplementation On Pathogen Survival In The Human Gut Microbiota Anarobe 2011, 17 (1): 36-42 H. Hondaa, G.R. Gibsona, S. Farmerb, D. Kellerb, A.L. McCartneya [↩]
- A Patented Strain Of Bacillus Coagulans Increased Immune Response To Viral Challenge Postgraduate Medicine, 2009; 121(2): 114–118 Mira Baron [↩]
- Survival And Metabolic Activity Of The GanedenBC30Strain Of Bacillus Coagulans In A Dynamic In Vitro Model Of The Stomach And Small Intestine Beneficial Microbes, 2010; 1(1): 31–36 A.J.H Maathuis1, D. Keller2, S. Farmer2 [↩]