Benefits of spore forming probiotics & soil based probiotics
Benefits of spore forming probiotics & soil based probiotics
Spore forming and soil based probiotics have many health benefits and are used by us clinically throughout Australia. By definition, a probiotic is a food, product or preparation containing one or more microorganisms that when consumed, maintain or restore beneficial bacteria to the digestive tract.  Probiotics are made of good live bacteria and/or yeasts that naturally live in your body.
There are, however, different types of probiotics, with some being more helpful than others. Research tells us that spore-forming probiotics are beneficial in many ways and may outperform other types of probiotics when it comes to increasing the good bacteria in our gut.
Let’s find out more…
What are probiotics and how do they support good health?
Our gastrointestinal tract is colonized by many microorganisms, including bacteria, archaea, viruses, fungi and protozoa. These microorganisms make up what we call the gut microbiota, microbiome or intestinal microflora, and can have a profound effect on our health.
Each individual has a unique mix of gut bacteria. Illness, stress and antibiotic use can change this bacterial balance and create digestive and a whole host of other problems.
Probiotics work by changing the composition of your gut bacteria or the metabolic activity of existing bacteria. The good bacteria crowd out the bad in your intestine. This prevents the bad bacteria from multiplying and causing infection or inflammation. For example, too much yeast in the body can lead to yeast infection, but the well-balanced gut biome will keep yeast at lower levels. 
Research suggests that probiotics can assist with:
- aiding digestion, especially Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Leaky Gut
- preventing diarrhea
- combatting obesity
- reducing cholesterol levels
- easing vaginal infections
- preventing autoimmune diseases
- easing skin ailments, especially atopic dermatitis
- fending off urinary infections
There are several ways you can take a probiotic supplement. They come in a variety of forms, including in:
- Capsules or pills
Probiotic supplements can sometimes be combined with a prebiotic. Prebiotics are complex carbohydrates that feed the microorganisms in your gut. They are the food source for the good bacteria, feeding the good bacteria and keeping it healthy. Prebiotics include inulin, pectin and resistant starches.
Probiotics are also naturally occurring in foods. Adding a few servings of probiotic-rich foods to your daily diet can give your gut microbiome a boost while also improving overall.
Best probiotic foods include:
Active-Culture Yogurt – be careful about which brand you buy as some may have high qualities of added sugar, artificial sweeteners and artificial flavours.
Kefir – This fermented dairy product is very similar to yogurt. It is a unique combination of kefir “grains” (a combination of yeast and bacteria) and goat’s milk that’s high in lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. It’s also rich in antioxidants.
Kombucha tea – this is a form of fermented black or green tea that is believed to help increase energy and may even help you lose weight.
Tempeh – tempeh is fermented soybeans and a complete protein, with all of the amino acids. Also a great source of vitamin B12, tempeh can be cooked or crumbled over salads.
Kimchi – A traditional Korean dish, this is a mixture of fermented vegetables and seasonings. Common ingredients include cabbage, brine, radish and spices such as ginger and chili pepper. In addition to providing beneficial bacteria, kimchi is also a great source of calcium, iron, beta-carotene, and vitamins A, C, B1, and B2.
Sauerkraut – This fermented cabbage fuels healthy gut bacteria and contains choline, a chemical needed for the proper transmission of nerve impulses in the brain and throughout the central nervous system.
Pickles – a natural, easy to consume, probiotic.
Pickled fruits and vegetables – Remember that the probiotic benefits are only present in unpasteurized foods pickled in brine, not vinegar. 
What are the different types of probiotics?
The seven core genera of microbial organisms most often used in probiotic products are Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Saccharomyces, Streptococcus, Enterococcus, Escherichia, and Bacillus. 
Lactic acid probiotics
Lactic-acid producing probiotics include well-known bacteria strains such as bifidobacterium and lactobacillus. Lactobacillus is the most common strain found in fermented foods, like yogurt. The bacteria produce lactic acid by eating lactose, sugar, and carbohydrates, with the process of fermentation lowering the pH of the gut. This, in turn, will limit the growth of pathogens and Candida.
Unfortunately, lactic acid bacteria move through your gut quickly, so don’t have much time to do their work. They are also highly sensitive to light and heat and stomach acid may kill many of these probiotic bugs.
Soil-based probiotics, or SBOs, are naturally found in the dirt. These bacteria are on the food that is harvested from the ground and by consuming them, we enhance our immune system.
Most people, these days, tend not to harvest their own food and usually wash anything that comes out of the ground before they eat it, so we ingest fewer and fewer soil-based probiotics. Some experts on soil-based probiotics attribute our increasing digestive issues to our decreased consumption of soil-based probiotics.
Spore forming probiotics and their benefits
Spore-based probiotics are a type of soil-based microorganism that is formed from spores and found in dirt and vegetation.
Spore-forming probiotics behave in the same way most probiotics do. “For example, activated spore-forming probiotics use quorum sensing to group together, communicates, and produce enzymes and other active compounds that deter unwanted organisms. This action gently pushes non-resident and potentially pathogenic bacteria out of the small intestine, helping to restore proper microbial diversity and balance. Also like most probiotics, they produce necessary nutrients like short-chain fatty acids, vitamins, antioxidants, and other compounds necessary for nurturing the gut lining and re-establishing the gut terrain.” 
There are key differences in spore-forming probiotics, however.
- They have a longer transient time in the gut, which means it has a longer life of activity. Spore-forming probiotics have a transient time of about three to four weeks, while traditional probiotics normally have a transient time of four to seven days.
- They have better outcomes, specifically for SIBO-type patients, compared to traditional probiotics like Lactobacillus. They are also superior to a low-FODMAP diet alone in relieving SIBO-like symptoms, according to recent research. 
- Many probiotics sold off the shelf in pharmacies and supermarkets are not actually alive and thus, don’t have the effect that we want them to. Unlike the more commonly used Lactobacillus-type probiotics, spores are dormant life forms. They remain dormant in harsh environments until they reach more favourable environments like the gastrointestinal tract. Once inside the large intestine, these dormant spores can change into their active, vegetative forms and begin colonizing in the gut.
Once spore-forming probiotics reach the gut microbiome, their benefits are numerous.
- They are highly resilient, colonizing bacteria, which remain dormant in the gut for a long time, and then revive themselves when nutrients are present.
- They are shelf-stable and do not require refrigeration.
- They are extremely stable and highly resistant to stomach acid’s low pH, resulting in the delivery of more usable probiotics to the small intestine where they then revert to active, growing bacteria. They can also resist pancreatic enzymes and bile.
- They can resist antibiotics.
- They have been shown to balance good and bad bacteria, strengthen the intestinal barrier and modulate the immune response in the digestive tract.
- They are some of the only strains that have been shown to successfully heal leaky gut by maintaining healthy gut barrier function.
Using spore-forming probiotics to their best effect
Some experts are critical of spore-forming probiotics as these bacteria can be opportunistic, especially in people who are immunocompromised. If your microbiome isn’t strong, introducing resilient strains, can cause serious issues. This means we need to be careful about how we take them and in what quantities and the advice of a Functional Medicine health practitioner is always recommended to ensure you take supplements safely and to the best effect.
Probiotics don’t work for every illness, so it’s important to choose the right one and follow the directions for best effect.
Some simple guidelines include:
- Understand why you’re taking it so that you can tailor the strain to the condition.
- Use a good quality brand with live cultures. Choose one that shows proof of effectiveness.
- Take the right dosage for best results. On average, a dose of 5 billion CFUs or higher was found to be more effective than lower doses for treating gastrointestinal conditions. A colony-forming unit (CFU) is a unit used in microbiology to estimate the number of viable bacteria in a sample. Doses vary by brand so read the label carefully.
- It needs to be stored correctly which could be in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
- Take as directed – before or after meals, at bedtime or first thing in the morning.
- Ensure it is safe and watch out for unwanted added ingredients, fillers and binders which might cause reactions.
Research shows us that probiotics, when used correctly, can be extremely beneficial for our overall health. Spore-forming probiotics especially are hardy enough to heal and keep our gut microbiome healthy and eliminate any unwanted symptoms caused by a system out of balance.
At Advanced Functional Medicine, we can support you to choose well-studied, high quality strains of probiotics that are suited to your condition and will have the maximum, and most positive, effect on your health. We clinically use a wide variety of probiotics targeted for various conditions and outcomes with many of our patients. Gut health is paramount to your overall health and always forms part of the overall health strategy.