The 4 Types of Probiotics
Probiotics. You’d have to be living in a cave to have missed the constant buzz about them. You’ve heard so much talk about them being good for you, and so many products in the supermarket are now being labeled as probiotic, BUT…you’re slightly overwhelmed by it all. That is exactly why I decided to dedicate the month of April to probiotics. This month, I want to answer all of your probiotic questions through blog posts and info across social media. Make sure you’re following me on instagram to get all of this content.
So, right now you might be wondering ‘What actually are probiotics? Are they really good for me? Which one should I be taking?’ This post is going to clear up some of that confusion and talk you through the 4 different types of probiotics you can get.
WHAT ARE PROBIOTICS?
Firstly, let’s get clear on what probiotics actually are. They’re defined as living organisms that are beneficial to health when administered in adequate amounts. They’re basically the same thing as the good bacteria we have in our gut, and taking/eating them will help to boost the numbers of the good guys in your gut.
So, yes, they are very beneficial. However, it’s not as simple as that - they’re not right for everyone and there are different types that are appropriate for different people. Your gut microbiome is as unique as your fingerprint, so what works for you will be totally different to what works for someone else.
THE 4 TYPES OF PROBIOTICS
The 4 main types of probiotic bacteria are:
3. Soil based bacteria
4. Spore forming bacteria.
We’ll go through each of these in a bit more detail:
1 + 2. LACTOBACILLUS + BIFIDOBACTERIUM
Both of these are classed as ‘Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB).’ This is because they both produce lactic acid in your gut by eating lactose, sugar and carbs. In doing this, they ferment foods, which lowers the pH in your body. Lowering the pH reduces the growth of any pathogens in your body (bugs, viruses, bad bacteria, parasites, Candida/yeast).
The main benefits of LAB are:
Promote regular bowel movements, so help reduce symptoms of constipation and diarrhoea
Produce antimicrobials that can ward off all those bad guys - bacteria, parasites, yeast, e.g. Candida
Help your body absorb vitamins and minerals
Support the production of stomach acid and digestive enzymes, so you can digest your food better
They eat toxins, so help you detox!
These probiotics are TRANSIENT. This means that, when you eat them, they pass through the digestive system without colonizing it (i.e. you poop them out - they don’t stay in your gut). However, it’s a common misconception that this means they are a waste of money and don’t benefit you. They do, in fact, have an impact on your gut bacteria, just by passing through.
3. SOIL BASED BACTERIA (SBO)
These are bacteria that are naturally found in the soil. They enrich plants so they grow better. It might seem weird and gross to eat bacteria from the soil. However, this is bacteria that we should, and used to, consume. This SBO should naturally be found on our food. However, due to the use of pesticides these days, they are all killed off before they get to us. This means we aren’t getting all the bacteria that we used to be, before the introduction of pesticides.
The main benefits of SBO are:
They live in our gut and actually help to sweep out the bad bacteria
Enhance your immune system
Some LIVE IN THE GUT, some are TRANSIENT. This means, some will pass through your gut, like LAB, and boost your gut as they go. Others will stay in the gut, live there and help sweep out bad bacteria.
4. SPORE-FORMING BACTERIA
These bacteria could come from the soil and be soil-based, or could come from somewhere else.
The main benefits of spore-forming bacteria are:
They’re highly resistant, so they can survive and grow in any gut environment, and even survive antibiotics.
Can stay in your gut dormant for a long time, then will revive themselves when nutrients are present
Live in the gut and help sweep out bad bacteria, like SBO.
These are much more likely to STAY IN THE GUT. As they can survive most environments, they are much less likely to be transient, and much more likely to actually stay and colonize your gut. Like I said, they can stay in there for a long time, totally dormant, just waiting to be activated. It’s best to take these at the same time as food, as the food is what activates them from dormant to alive.
BONUS - SACCHAROMYCES BOULARDII
This isn’t one of the 4 as it’s not actually a bacteria. It’s a yeast. However, it’s kind of special as it’s the only type of yeast strain shown to be a probiotic. It works by fighting off other yeast and has been successful at curing recurrent diarrhoea.
Probiotics are basically the good bacteria that live in your gut. Taking or eating them will help to boost your healthy gut bacteria and improve the health of your gut.
There are 4 different types, and the one that is right for you will be different to the one that’s right for someone else.
The 4 types are:
3. Soil based bacteria
4. Spore forming bacteria.
5. BONUS - Saccharomyces Boulardii
Now you’re armed with the knowledge of what probiotics are and the different types you can get, I bet you’re left wondering which one you should go for?? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Over the next 3 weeks, I’ll be covering how to choose a probiotic, busting some common myths around probiotics and answering your questions! Pop in your email address below to get all of this content delivered straight to your inbox.
Have you ever taken probiotics? Did they make you feel better/worse/you didn’t notice a difference? Let me know in the comments below.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and I hope it’s helped you on your journey to taking control of your gut, eating well and living your life.