Probiotics: Origins and Actions
The increasing popularity of probiotics in both food and supplement sectors is rivalled only by the increasing demand for where these “friendly microorganisms” originate. In reality, the benefits you (the host) receive from probiotics is of greater importance than their source.
Probiotics are isolated primarily from human, dairy, and botanical sources, with interest for human strains increasing in the last several years. Human classification refers to the fact these strains are sourced from healthy individuals, and proven to thrive within the entire gastrointestinal tract. Once isolated in sterile growth media, they’re microbiologically classified and freeze-dried for future use as starter strains for commercial production.
Human strains have an extensive therapeutic range affecting digestion, immune system performance, vitamin and mineral absorption, leaky gut syndrome, and more.
Dairy-sourced probiotics fit their description: they’re beneficial microorganisms of dairy origin. There’s a frequent misconception those with dairy sensitivities should avoid dairy strains; however, they’re actually beneficial for a broad range of digestive disorders including lactose intolerance, diarrhea, and inflammatory bowel disease. The lactic acid produced by dairy strains also inhibits the overgrowth of harmful bacteria and yeast. The warning for dairy sensitivity in our probiotic products is related to the microscopic skim milk powder coating employed as a cryoprotectant (protection during freeze-drying) and prebiotic. The benefits of dairy strains, which include healthy digestion of dairy products, far outweigh in health-building strengths the minimal amount of skim milk powder employed during the freeze-drying process.
Plant-sourced probiotics are common to sauerkraut, kimchi, and silage (fermented feed grains). They thrive without the presence of oxygen, and fight the growth and activity of gas-producing bacterium that contribute to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). There is also emerging evidence that Lactobacillus plantarum may have potential for alleviating depression. Saccharomyces boulardii, a probiotic yeast originally isolated from lychee fruit, is another example of a botanically sourced probiotic. It’s useful for treatment and prevention of traveller’s diarrhea and dangerous hospital bacteria (C. difficile) infection.
The unique benefits of many well-researched probiotics makes product development in this sector both exciting and dynamic. The creation of new probiotic formulas that are designed to prevent or cure health problems focus on therapeutic benefits of specific strains, not their origin.
Whether the probiotic strain establishes and multiplies within the intestinal lining, or delivers its important health benefits as it passes through the intestines—keeping your intestinal flora vibrant, well-balanced, and diverse—can play a key role in moving you towards excellent health.