You’ve likely at least heard about probiotics, those microorganisms that are considered “good” bacteria which play an important role when it comes to health and wellness. Countless studies have shown the proper balance of gut bacteria is likely to be a key part of enjoying a long, healthy life, including 2014 research published in Cell. What we put into our gut is essential for wellness, and it can even affect the odds of avoiding some types of cancer.
Just a few of the responsibilities the gut is tasked with includes:
- Helping to fight off colds and viruses
- Aiding in the repair of injuries and tissue damage
- Aiding appetite regulation and weight management
- Playing a part in the production of serotonin, the “feel good hormone” as well as other hormones
- Playing a role in mood management
There are trillions of those good, helpful bacteria that live in everyone’s gut, collectively referred to as gut microbiome, with some 500 different species, each offering their own unique benefits. Millions of dollars are invested in gut research each year, aiming to learn more about how these “bugs” have a role in preventing cardiovascular disease, diabetes and more. And, practically every day it seems that scientists discover more and more about just how crucial they are – so much so, that some have even begun to refer to the microbiome as its own organ.
Why Our Modern Lifestyles Have Led to an Excess Of Harmful Bacteria in the Gut
The majority of our ancestors traditionally consumed a diet that included many fermented and raw foods, which contain an abundance of beneficial bacteria. But as our modern lifestyles often include a diet made up of far too many junk, fast foods and processed foods, most notably sugar, this disrupts the gut’s normally healthy composition. The good, helpful bacteria is pasteurized, irradiated, and frequently processed beyond recognition, which means those foods we eat lead to an excess of harmful bacteria in the gut, which causes good bacteria to be depleted, and the bad to eventually take over, which results in all types of health issues.
Do You Have a Gut Bacteria Imbalance?
If your gut has too much harmful bacteria, it means you have an imbalance and you may experience a number of symptoms, such as:
- You may get ill more often
- Your nose may get stuffed up frequently, you have more respiratory infections and/or difficulty breathing
- You’re depressed
- You gain weight easily
- You suffer from digestive problems such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, gas or acid reflux
- You’re lacking energy and get fatigued more easily
- Your joints are achy and/or you suffer from muscular pain
- You have acne and/or a mild skin rash
This is why taking probiotic supplements have become so popular. But there is a problem with most of those supplements because getting through the human digestive system can be difficult for those good bacteria, especially considering they need to survive traveling through the stomach’s powerful acids along the way. The overwhelming majority of strains end up dying before they ever get to where they need to go, the small intestine. That means that with most probiotics, it’s as if you took nothing at all, as they’re rendered completely ineffective. Not only do they rob you of those critical health benefits, but they steal your time and hard-earned money, leaving your body in a suboptimal state.
How Soil Based (Spore) Probiotics are Different
Compared to those more delicate strains of bacteria that are found in certain probiotics and fermented foods, most of the good bacteria that are found in the dirt are very hardy, even thriving in your gut. The soil beneath our feet is rich with millions of bacteria. Have you ever heard the saying “dirt don’t hurt?” There may be more to that than you ever imagined. There’s also a saying in some cultures that everyone should eat a pound a dirt – in Denmark, they say it’s seven pounds a year. While few take it literally, there are numerous old sayings and practices promoting the health benefits of dirt. Of course, there isn’t exactly a recommended dietary allowance for it on the US Food and Nutrition chart, but science is beginning to catch up with the reality that dirt is actually a superfood. Unlike bifidobacteria, most of the beneficial bacterial strains that are found in productive soil are extraordinarily hardy.
“Spore probiotics,” are actually “soil-based organisms,” also referred to as SBO. They’re a new class of probiotic supplements developed based on a greater understanding of the amazing diversity of the human gut, and a better appreciation for how humans and the “helper” bacteria that live within them can work together to produce a healthier system. As the name implies, SBO are bacteria, and other life forms, that live in the soil. There, they do for plants more or less what probiotic foods do for humans, breaking down plant material, producing vitamins, combating pathogens, and more. Organic fertilizer that you may use in your vegetable garden also contains these organisms in order to enhance the health of the soil.
SBO have the ability to “seed” the digestive tract with bacteria, which go on to thrive and flourish, supporting a balanced microbiome, that term we mentioned that’s used for the mini-ecology of microorganisms like bacteria which inhabit the body and perform so many vital functions, including digestion and immune support. They’re heat stable, which is why they can survive passing through the acidic stomach, traveling to the small intestine where they provide unique health benefits. While these strains have been used in probiotic formulations in Europe for decades now, at least a half-century, they’ve only become popular in the U.S. in the last 10 years. After they get through the stomach acids, the spores germinate, grow and proliferate in the small intestine, where they eventually form more spores which are passed through the GI tract, offering a wealth of benefits.
Other probiotics may still offer benefits if you take enough of them if they’ve been stored and transported properly, and if the lining of your gut is healthy enough for those good bacteria to bind and colonize, but meeting all of those criteria is an incredibly tough accomplishment. On the other hand, soil based probiotics are pretty much indestructible.
They’ll readily germinate in the intestines, remain for a week to three weeks, reform spores, and are then excreted, making their way back to the soil. While traditionally, these spore probiotics could be gotten simply by living in and around dirt, such as farming, today, unless you happen to be a farmer, you’re probably not working or living around dirt consistently enough to get these helpful strains into your gut, which means you’ll need to supplement with spore, soil-based probiotics instead.
Our Recommended Soil Based Probiotic Supplement: Axe Nutrition’s SBO Probiotic Supplement
3 Reasons To Take Soil Based Probiotics
Getting more healthy, “good” bacteria in your gut through soil based probiotics brings numerous benefits to one’s health and well-being.
1. Better Brain Functioning
While probiotics are often associated with gut health, they offer many other benefits as well, including supporting better brain functioning. Research from UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine in 2013 found that women who regularly consumed beneficial bacteria experienced a number of positive changes in several areas of their brains, including emotional and sensory processing as well as cognition. Another study out of Ireland published in Neurogastroenterology & Motility discovered that mice who didn’t have any microbes in their intestines weren’t able to recognize other mice that were around them.
Getting healthy bacteria in your diet by taking spore probiotics may even help improve memory in those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, according to a clinical trial published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience in 2016. Experts looked at how Alzheimer’s patients were affected by taking probiotic supplements and found that those who took probiotics experienced a dramatic improvement in cognitive functioning. They were also found to have positive metabolic changes, such as lower triglyceride levels, decreased markers for insulin resistance and extremely low-density lipoprotein and C-reactive protein, something that measures the amount of inflammation in the body.
2. Better Mood, Decreased Anxiety & More
Experts also believe that changes in gut bacteria can affect personality and mood. A 2011 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists showed that Germ-free mice were dramatically more anxious and hyperactive than their counterparts who had a normal microbiome. They showed fewer visible signs of anxiety, reduced levels of stress hormones, and even neurochemical changes in the brain.
Studies conducted at Sage Colleges and Bristol University concluded that soil-based organisms make us happier and smarter. According to Therapeutic Landscapes network, a London oncologist at Royal Marsden Hospital, Mary O’Brien, first stumbled upon the findings while inoculating lung cancer patients with a strain of M. vaccae to see if their symptoms improved. She noticed that in addition to fewer cancer symptoms, patients also demonstrated an improvement in emotional health, vitality, and even cognitive function. Bristol University’s Chris Lowry was intrigued and decided to explore O’Brien’s discovery. He hypothesized that the body’s immune response to the bacterium triggers the brain to produce that feel-good hormone known as serotonin. When we don’t have enough serotonin, it can be a symptom or even a cause of depression. Lowry injected mice with the M. vaccae and then observed the animal’s physiological and behavioral changes. He discovered that their cytokine levels had risen – cytokines are part of a chain reaction, which ultimately results in the brain releasing serotonin. To test their behavioral stress levels, he then put the mice into a miniature swimming pool, with the knowledge that stressed mice typically become more stressed by swimming, but mice that aren’t already stressed usually don’t seem to mind. He found that the mice given M. vaccae, didn’t exhibit higher stress levels after being forced to swim.
Dorothy Matthews and Susan Jenks, at the Sage Colleges in Troy, New York also tested these findings with similar results. Matthews remarked, “From our study we can say that it is definitely good to be outdoors–it’s good to have contact with these organisms. It is interesting to speculate that creating learning environments in schools that include time in the outdoors where M. vaccae is present may decrease anxiety and improve the ability to learn new tasks.”
3. Improved Digestion & Reduced IBS Symptoms
Of course, probiotics are most often associated with digestive health and the ability to relieve issues like irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. In a study out of Washington’s Battelle Seattle Research Center, experts found that patients diagnosed with IBS who took a soil-based probiotic experienced a significant reduction in symptoms after two weeks. A follow-up study discovered those patients were still enjoying the benefits even a year after discontinuing the probiotics, presumably, researchers say because the beneficial bacteria stays in the gut and continues to function.
Other benefits research has shown by taking soil based probiotics include helping to regulate the immune system, lowering inflammation, breaking down food, assisting with detoxification and even influencing genetic expression to help bring out the best in us.
The Best Soil Based Probiotic Supplements
If you’d like to see how a soil based probiotic can help you, then the most popular and best reviewed is Axe Nutrition’s SBO Probiotic Supplement. It is recommended that you take two capsules daily with a glass of water or juice.