The Truth About Probiotic Supplements
How do you know if your probiotic supplement is giving you live, active cultures?
When you open a jar of homemade fermented vegetables or a bottle of a Body Ecology fermented beverage, you can hear the activity. There is usually a pop, fizzing, and gurgling, and sometimes the contents overflow when pressure is released. You know that the microbes are alive.
This isn’t the case with packaged probiotics.
When a bacteria culture is ready to be marketed, two popular methods of processing are used: centrifuging and ultrafiltration.
- Both methods separate the bacterial mass from its growth matrix and biofilm, which is the community that the bacteria build.
- Both methods concentrate the mass of bacteria.
Centrifugation crushes bacteria cells.
Centrifugation is the most popular processing method because it is the easiest and least expensive way to create a probiotic product.
- Bacteria and their entire biofilm community are placed in a centrifuge, and the switch is hit, throwing the bacteria against the sides of the centrifuge with incredible force.
- The force of the centrifuge causes the cell walls of many bacteria to rupture. Sometimes processing kills them immediately, while other times the bacteria are injured.
- The community of bacteria is destroyed.
Ultrafiltration is less damaging than centrifugation.
- Bacteria are put through a giant strainer.
- This straining method does damage to the bacterial communities.
- However, the fragile cell walls of the bacteria are left intact.
This community structure that the bacteria create protects the bacteria, nourishes them, and also houses anti-microbial byproducts. This means that when beneficial bacteria are stripped of their biofilm during processing, they are left naked and alone, unable to truly benefit the body and set up residence.
It also means that they are less likely to survive the low pH of stomach acid as they move their way through the gastrointestinal tract. If the bacteria do survive their transit to the small and large intestine, they arrive significantly weakened and without the protection of their biofilm.
When you do not separate the good bacteria from the matrix they are growing in, they are completely supported in the digestive process. They also experience minimal damage because they are not subjected to mechanical processing. This means that they arrive in your intestinal tract, ready to take up residence immediately. The effect is noticeable. If you feel your probiotic capsule is having little effect, you may want to switch to cultured foods. (1)
Very few store-bought cultured foods provide a significant amount of beneficial bacteria.
Does store-bought yogurt really have the probiotic power that it claims? Unfortunately, many commercial yogurts are pasteurized after they’ve been fermented, which completely destroys all good bacteria.
Most yogurts on the market today are sweetened. In order to prevent the bacteria from feeding on the fruit or added sweetener, a chemical is added to keep the live bacteria from coming into contact with the fruit. Think about it. What would that chemical do in the body?
Additionally, several yogurts are still pasteurized after fermentation is complete. For the manufacturers, this ensures that no pathogenic microorganism is in the product and complies with their understanding of food safety. However, pasteurization of a fermented product like yogurt will also kill the beneficial microbiota. All of the health benefits gathered and researched about beneficial microorganisms are from living cultures.
Fermentation enhances and preserves life force.
Traditionally, fermentation was used as a storage system for foods. It prevented food from rotting so that it could be preserved and eaten at a later date. The friendly microflora in fermented foods enhance the number of enzymes and produce valuable micronutrients.
Fermented foods also:
- Allow the digestive tract to safely and easily assimilate raw vegetables and dairy.
- Increase the nutritional value and availability of foods.
- Support the detoxification pathways of the body.
- Help to remove the harmful chemicals and metals that are found in today’s modern environment.
Besides dairy and vegetables, currently some markets also sell fermented sauces, salsas, dips, and fermented teas. Be sure to read the labels. While fermented foods are a welcome addition to the refrigerated section, they have only recently become popular, and many manufacturers are still using additives that your body does not need. A traditionally fermented food sold in the unrefrigerated section of the store, such as pickles, is not truly fermented.
Getting back into traditional, fermented foods and away from sterile, lifeless food is one step closer to nourishing the entire body. Everyone has a unique collection of microorganisms, and Body Ecology promotes sustaining this inner microbial community with fermented foods first, rather than relying completely on a probiotic supplement.
You can ferment your own vegetables at home with the Body Ecology Veggie Culture Starter. Body Ecology has also put together core products that provide the basic tools necessary to get started and maintain a probiotic diet.
The Body Ecology Core Program includes:
- Innergy Biotic: A fermented probiotic liquid that delivers healthy, intact microbes to your digestive tract.
- Vitality SuperGreen: A plant-based powerhouse of nutrients that has been fermented to allow for maximum absorption and benefit. Vitality Supergreen also contains glutamine, an amino acid that repairs the lining of the gut. The gut lining is where healthy microbes set up residence!
- Assist SI: An enzyme formula that is both detoxifying when taken on an empty stomach and will strengthen the digestive power of the small intestine when taken with food.
- Assist Full Spectrum Enzymes: Supplement enzymes that support the entire digestive tract, including brush border enzymes that enhance digestive function without causing irritation to the intestinal walls.
- Assist Dairy and Protein: Helps break down dairy, animal proteins, and vegan protein sources, such as grains.
- Stevia: A sugarless, natural sweetener that is 300 times sweeter than sugar. Stevia does not contribute to feeding pathogenic microorganisms and does not ignite an inflammatory response, as sugar does.
Nourish the body with a probiotic diet, rather than a probiotic pill.
The Body Ecology Diet is the only diet that emphasizes the use of beneficial bacteria, proper food combining, and the proper preparation of the Body Ecology grain-like seeds. Nourishing the body with a probiotic diet, rather than a probiotic pill, is essential in rebuilding the gastrointestinal tract and restoring the immune system.
What To Remember Most About This Article:
Wouldn’t it be great to take one little pill to magically improve your health? While probiotic supplements seem like a great idea, they’re often made with processing methods that destroy communities of good bacteria. Many store-bought yogurts on the market are pasteurized after they have been fermented, which kills all good bacteria completely.
Instead, try fermented beverages and cultured vegetables that will support your digestive tract with strong, beneficial bacteria. Fermented foods will also increase the nutritional value of your food, support detoxification, and flush harmful chemicals out of your body. It’s time to go back to basics. It’s always recommended to choose traditional fermented foods instead of pre-packaged probiotics to nourish your digestive tract.
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- Trenev, Natasha. Probiotics, Nature’s Internal Healers. Avery: New York, 1998. P. 122 – 125.