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{"id":555837980745,"title":"Probiotics: Why They May Be Dead On Arrival","created_at":"2021-09-10T17:17:03-04:00","body_html":"\u003cscript type=\"application\/ld+json\"\u003e\/\/ \u003c![CDATA[\n{\n \"@context\": \"https:\/\/schema.org\",\n \"@type\": \"Article\",\n \"headline\": \"Probiotics: Why They May Be Dead On Arrival\",\n \"keywords\": \"probiotics, supplement probiotics, probiotics in food, yogurt, kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut\",\n \"description\": \"Our MD reviews some of the health benefits of probiotics, explains why many probiotic supplements are likely to be ineffective because they’re dead on arrival (DOA), and offers some more effective and cheaper food-based probiotic alternatives.\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/blogs\/health\/probiotics-dead-on-arrival\",\n\"author\": {\n \"@type\": \"Person\",\n \"name\": \"Taylor Graber MD\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/pages\/taylor-graber\",\n \"sameAs\": \"https:\/\/www.linkedin.com\/in\/taylor-j-graber-md-81351642\/\",\n \"jobTitle\": \"Content Partner\",\n \"knowsAbout\": \"medicine, health, anesthesiology, iv therapy, science, drugs, pharmaceutical, medical research, scientific research, medical journals, entrepreneurship, healthcare, orthopedic surgery, biomedical engineering\",\n \"alumniOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"EducationalOrganization\",\n \"name\": [\n \"University of California San Diego\",\n \"Arizona University\",\n \"University of Arizona College of Medicine\"\n ]\n },\n \"memberOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"Illuminate Labs\"\n }\n},\n\"contributor\": {\n \"@type\": \"Person\",\n \"name\": \"Calloway Cook\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/pages\/calloway-cook\",\n \"sameAs\": \"https:\/\/www.linkedin.com\/in\/calloway-cook\/\",\n \"jobTitle\": \"President\",\n \"knowsAbout\": \"entrepreneurship, dietary supplements, herbal supplements, eCommerce, medical research\",\n \"alumniOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"EducationalOrganization\",\n \"name\": \"S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University\"\n },\n \"memberOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"Illuminate Labs\"\n }\n},\n\"editor\": {\n \"@type\": \"Person\",\n \"name\": \"DJ Mazzoni\",\n \"honorificSuffix\": [\n \"M.S.\",\n \"R.D.\",\n \"C.D.N.\",\n \"C.S.C.S.\"\n ],\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/pages\/dj-mazzoni\",\n \"sameAs\": \"https:\/\/www.linkedin.com\/in\/dj-mazzoni-rd-cdn-cscs-00a33038\/\",\n \"jobTitle\": \"Medical Reviewer\",\n \"knowsAbout\": \"exercise, drugs, pharmaceutical, health, workout, strength and conditioning, nutrition, dietetics, medicine, medical research, scientific research, scientific method, healthcare, patient care, wellness\",\n \"alumniOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"EducationalOrganization\",\n \"name\": [\n \"State University of New York College Oswego\",\n \"D’Youville College\"\n ]\n },\n \"memberOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"Illuminate Labs\"\n }\n},\n\"image\": {\n\"@type\": \"ImageObject\",\n\"url\": \"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0047\/1524\/9737\/files\/Probiotics_DOA_Thumbnail.jpg?v=1642477347\",\n\"width\": \"2000\",\n\"height\": \"2000\"\n},\n\"citation\": [\n\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC4290017\/\", \n\"https:\/\/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/28767318\/\",\n\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC5490534\/\",\n\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC4006993\/\",\n\"https:\/\/onlinelibrary.wiley.com\/doi\/abs\/10.1046\/j.1440-1711.2000.00886.x\",\n\"https:\/\/www.sciencedirect.com\/science\/article\/abs\/pii\/S1756464614001716?via%3Dihub\",\n\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC5977097\/\",\n\"https:\/\/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/24456350\/\"\n],\n\"mentions\": [{\n \"@type\": \"Thing\",\n \"name\": \"digestion\"\n },\n {\n \"@type\": \"Thing\",\n \"name\": \"inflammation\"\n },\n {\n \"@type\": \"Thing\",\n \"name\": \"black seed\"\n },\n {\n \"@type\": \"Thing\",\n \"name\": \"storage\"\n },\n {\n \"@type\": \"Thing\",\n \"name\": \"sauerkraut\"\n },\n {\n \"@type\": \"Thing\",\n \"name\": \"kimchi\"\n },\n {\n \"@type\": \"Thing\",\n \"name\": \"yogurt\"\n },\n {\n \"@type\": \"Thing\",\n \"name\": \"pickles\"\n }\n],\n\"datePublished\": \"2021-11-06\",\n\"copyrightHolder\": {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"Illuminate Labs\"\n},\n\"publisher\": {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"Illuminate Labs\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/\",\n \"description\": \"Illuminate Labs is the most transparent supplement company in the U.S., and is a leading publisher of research-based health information.\",\n \"knowsAbout\": \"supplements, science, nutrition, exercise, health, medication, pharmaceutical, wellness, diet, weight loss, medical research\",\n \"publishingPrinciples\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/pages\/editorial-guidelines\",\n \"logo\": {\n \"@type\": \"ImageObject\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0047\/1524\/9737\/files\/Illuminate_Labs_Logo.png?v=1641249064\", \n \"width\": 150,\n \"height\": 150\n},\n \"foundingDate\": \"2019-01-30\",\n \"Address\": {\n \"@type\": \"PostalAddress\",\n \"streetAddress\": \"50 Union Street, Unit 9\",\n \"addressLocality\": \"Northampton\",\n \"addressRegion\": \"Massachusetts\",\n \"postalCode\": \"01060\",\n \"addressCountry\": \"US\"\n},\n \"sameAs\": [\n \"https:\/\/www.instagram.com\/illuminatelabs\",\n \"https:\/\/twitter.com\/illuminatelabs\",\n \"https:\/\/www.linkedin.com\/company\/illuminate-labs-supplements\",\n \"https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/channel\/UCpgSJAsIPb-fZ25djtTxBEA\"\n ]\n }\n}\n\/\/ ]]\u003e\u003c\/script\u003e\n\u003cmeta charset=\"utf-8\"\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan\u003e\u003cem\u003e\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003cimg src=\"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0047\/1524\/9737\/files\/Illuminate_Labs_Probiotics_DOA_Header_Image_Optimized.png?v=1631318236\" alt=\"\"\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e\u003cspan class=\"dc\"\u003eM\u003c\/span\u003eore and more consumers worldwide are taking probiotics because of their proven health benefits. We know that probiotics can improve digestion and even reduce inflammation, but it’s questionable if most probiotics in supplement form are useful since they may be dead by the time you start taking them.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eIn this article we’ll review some of the benefits of probiotics, explain why many probiotic supplements are likely to be ineffective because they’re dead on arrival (DOA), and offer some more effective probiotic alternatives.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003eProbiotic Benefits\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThe importance of the microbiome (gut) for overall health is becoming more apparent every year as more research is published. We know from medical research that the balance of good and bad bacteria in our gut can influence both \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC4290017\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003ephysical\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e and \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/28767318\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003emental\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e health, and its dysfunction can be regulated with probiotics.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eSince probiotics are beneficial strains of bacteria, they can help maintain optimal gut function in already healthy populations, and fix gut dysfunction in unhealthy individuals.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eProbiotics \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC5490534\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003ehave a proven\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e anti-inflammatory effect, which makes sense because gut dysregulation and proliferation of bad bacteria is known to be one of the core drivers of chronic, low-level inflammation which can cause all sorts of disease states.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThere is also \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC4006993\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003emedical research\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e suggesting probiotics can regulate and optimize immune health, which can minimize sickness and even positively impact skin conditions like eczema which are immunogenic in nature.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eOf course the benefits of probiotics will depend heavily on the strain, as there are thousands of strains of probiotics, but there is an overall positive effect in medical studies.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003eDead on Arrival\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eProbiotics are living organisms. They’re typically measured in colony-forming units (CFU), and most supplements contain a CFU figure in the billions.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eFor probiotics to be effective, they must be alive when consumed. We haven’t come across any medical research suggesting that consuming dead probiotics is beneficial to human health.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eMany probiotics are shelf-stable, meaning they’re stored at room temperature. This is convenient but likely to lead to dead on arrival probiotics, since many of the strains are quite sensitive to heat. \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/onlinelibrary.wiley.com\/doi\/abs\/10.1046\/j.1440-1711.2000.00886.x\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eA medical study\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e on two of the most popular probiotics, \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ci\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003elactobacillus acidophilus\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/i\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e and \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ci\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003ebifidobacterium spp.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/i\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e found that their survivability was a key factor in their effectiveness.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eAnother \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.sciencedirect.com\/science\/article\/abs\/pii\/S1756464614001716?via%3Dihub\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003emedical study\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e found that heat levels of over 45\u003c\/span\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e° Celsius were harmful to probiotic survival, and these temperatures are regularly achieved during supplement manufacturing.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eProbiotics aren’t only exposed to stressful conditions during manufacturing, but also during storage, transit and over time.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eMany supplement storage facilities aren’t adequately heat-controlled, and probiotics sitting in hot warehouses for months on end aren’t likely to be very effective. Very few freighting companies have adequate temperature-monitoring technology in our experience, and this is another vector for probiotic death.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eAnother core difference between probiotics in supplements and probiotics in food is that those in supplements are likely to die over time while those in food aren’t.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eAs discussed above, probiotics in supplements are exposed to various conditions which can cause death of the probiotics, while those in food are generally exposed to enzymes and other naturally-occurring compounds which actually encourage growth.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eNaturally fermented foods like sauerkraut contain a fermentation environment that allows further growth of beneficial microbes, and it’s \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC5977097\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eproven in research\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e that these fermented foods can be grown in both warm and cold environments with similar benefits.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eIt’s also likely that probiotics from fermented foods have a much better survivability than probiotics from supplements, because they’re already thriving in an acidic environment. The stomach environment has a low pH, similar to the pH of fermented foods but very dissimilar to the pH of most supplements.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003eProbiotics From Foods\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e\u003cimg src=\"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0047\/1524\/9737\/files\/Probiotics_From_Foods_Image_Optimized.png?v=1631318375\" alt=\"various probiotic foods in mason jars\"\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eFor general health, we recommend getting probiotics from foods because they’re likely to be more effective and also cheaper than those obtained from supplements.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eUnless the supplement manufacturer has published independent data on the survivability of their products, we’d expect it to be very low.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThere are a number of natural food products high in probiotics which also contain other beneficial nutrients:\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch3\u003e\u003cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eSauerkraut\u003c\/strong\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h3\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eSauerkraut is one of the most popular probiotic foods because it’s cheap, easy to find, and effective. Because ‘kraut can be stored at room temperature it tends to be a lot cheaper than other probiotics and can be acquired in bulk at many grocery stores. Choose products with a label notice of \"contains live and active cultures\", because pasteurized kraut doesn't have the same probiotic benefit.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch3\u003e\u003cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eKimchi\u003c\/strong\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h3\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eKimchi is a fermented cabbage product similar to sauerkraut which is popular in certain Asian cultures. It tends to be more expensive than sauerkraut and also usually has other spices added. There is \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/24456350\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003esignificant medical research\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e backing the health benefits and probiotic benefits of kimchi just like sauerkraut.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch3\u003e\u003cstrong\u003e\u003cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003eYogurt\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/strong\u003e\u003c\/h3\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eYogurt is one of the oldest and most popular probiotics. It tends to have less CFU than sauerkraut and kimchi, but is more tolerable and more accessible. We recommend yogurt without any added sugar. Since we know added sugar is harmful to the gut, there would be no point in consuming a health product for gut benefit that includes added sugar.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch3\u003e\u003cspan style=\"text-decoration: underline;\"\u003e\u003cstrong\u003ePickles\u003c\/strong\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/h3\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003ePickles are another probiotic food that can benefit health for a low cost. It’s important to select fermented pickles, as some brands sell pickles in vinegar which aren’t truly fermented and won’t have any of the probiotic benefits.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003eConclusion\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThere are many variables which can reduce the effectiveness of probiotic supplements. While supplementing targeted strains of probiotics may be useful for specific medical problems, we believe that generally probiotics from food are much more effective, and cheaper, than probiotics from supplements.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eUnless a supplement manufacturer has clinical data supporting the fact that their products can survive processing, storage and time decay, we’d assume they’re dead on arrival.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eWe recommend that consumers get their probiotics from real foods like yogurt, pickles, kimchi and other fermented foods that have been used as effective probiotics for thousands of years.\u003c\/span\u003e \u003c\/p\u003e","blog_id":49281925193,"author":"Calloway Cook","user_id":26601750601,"published_at":"2021-11-06T13:33:33-04:00","updated_at":"2022-01-17T22:46:13-05:00","summary_html":"\u003cmeta charset=\"utf-8\"\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan\u003eWe review some of the health benefits of probiotics, explain why many probiotic supplements are likely to be ineffective because they’re dead on arrival (DOA), and offer some more effective and cheaper food-based probiotic alternatives.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e","template_suffix":"","handle":"probiotics-dead-on-arrival","tags":"_related:food-safety, _related:gut-health, _related:probiotics"}

Probiotics: Why They May Be Dead On Arrival

Probiotics: Why They May Be Dead On Arrival


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Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.
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Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.


Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.

More and more consumers worldwide are taking probiotics because of their proven health benefits. We know that probiotics can improve digestion and even reduce inflammation, but it’s questionable if most probiotics in supplement form are useful since they may be dead by the time you start taking them.

In this article we’ll review some of the benefits of probiotics, explain why many probiotic supplements are likely to be ineffective because they’re dead on arrival (DOA), and offer some more effective probiotic alternatives.

Probiotic Benefits

The importance of the microbiome (gut) for overall health is becoming more apparent every year as more research is published. We know from medical research that the balance of good and bad bacteria in our gut can influence both physical and mental health, and its dysfunction can be regulated with probiotics.

Since probiotics are beneficial strains of bacteria, they can help maintain optimal gut function in already healthy populations, and fix gut dysfunction in unhealthy individuals.

Probiotics have a proven anti-inflammatory effect, which makes sense because gut dysregulation and proliferation of bad bacteria is known to be one of the core drivers of chronic, low-level inflammation which can cause all sorts of disease states.

There is also medical research suggesting probiotics can regulate and optimize immune health, which can minimize sickness and even positively impact skin conditions like eczema which are immunogenic in nature.

Of course the benefits of probiotics will depend heavily on the strain, as there are thousands of strains of probiotics, but there is an overall positive effect in medical studies.

Dead on Arrival

Probiotics are living organisms. They’re typically measured in colony-forming units (CFU), and most supplements contain a CFU figure in the billions.

For probiotics to be effective, they must be alive when consumed. We haven’t come across any medical research suggesting that consuming dead probiotics is beneficial to human health.

Many probiotics are shelf-stable, meaning they’re stored at room temperature. This is convenient but likely to lead to dead on arrival probiotics, since many of the strains are quite sensitive to heat. A medical study on two of the most popular probiotics, lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium spp. found that their survivability was a key factor in their effectiveness.

Another medical study found that heat levels of over 45° Celsius were harmful to probiotic survival, and these temperatures are regularly achieved during supplement manufacturing.

Probiotics aren’t only exposed to stressful conditions during manufacturing, but also during storage, transit and over time.

Many supplement storage facilities aren’t adequately heat-controlled, and probiotics sitting in hot warehouses for months on end aren’t likely to be very effective. Very few freighting companies have adequate temperature-monitoring technology in our experience, and this is another vector for probiotic death.

Another core difference between probiotics in supplements and probiotics in food is that those in supplements are likely to die over time while those in food aren’t.

As discussed above, probiotics in supplements are exposed to various conditions which can cause death of the probiotics, while those in food are generally exposed to enzymes and other naturally-occurring compounds which actually encourage growth.

Naturally fermented foods like sauerkraut contain a fermentation environment that allows further growth of beneficial microbes, and it’s proven in research that these fermented foods can be grown in both warm and cold environments with similar benefits.

It’s also likely that probiotics from fermented foods have a much better survivability than probiotics from supplements, because they’re already thriving in an acidic environment. The stomach environment has a low pH, similar to the pH of fermented foods but very dissimilar to the pH of most supplements.

Probiotics From Foods

various probiotic foods in mason jars

For general health, we recommend getting probiotics from foods because they’re likely to be more effective and also cheaper than those obtained from supplements.

Unless the supplement manufacturer has published independent data on the survivability of their products, we’d expect it to be very low.

There are a number of natural food products high in probiotics which also contain other beneficial nutrients:

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is one of the most popular probiotic foods because it’s cheap, easy to find, and effective. Because ‘kraut can be stored at room temperature it tends to be a lot cheaper than other probiotics and can be acquired in bulk at many grocery stores. Choose products with a label notice of "contains live and active cultures", because pasteurized kraut doesn't have the same probiotic benefit.

Kimchi

Kimchi is a fermented cabbage product similar to sauerkraut which is popular in certain Asian cultures. It tends to be more expensive than sauerkraut and also usually has other spices added. There is significant medical research backing the health benefits and probiotic benefits of kimchi just like sauerkraut.

Yogurt

Yogurt is one of the oldest and most popular probiotics. It tends to have less CFU than sauerkraut and kimchi, but is more tolerable and more accessible. We recommend yogurt without any added sugar. Since we know added sugar is harmful to the gut, there would be no point in consuming a health product for gut benefit that includes added sugar.

Pickles

Pickles are another probiotic food that can benefit health for a low cost. It’s important to select fermented pickles, as some brands sell pickles in vinegar which aren’t truly fermented and won’t have any of the probiotic benefits.

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Conclusion

There are many variables which can reduce the effectiveness of probiotic supplements. While supplementing targeted strains of probiotics may be useful for specific medical problems, we believe that generally probiotics from food are much more effective, and cheaper, than probiotics from supplements.

Unless a supplement manufacturer has clinical data supporting the fact that their products can survive processing, storage and time decay, we’d assume they’re dead on arrival.

We recommend that consumers get their probiotics from real foods like yogurt, pickles, kimchi and other fermented foods that have been used as effective probiotics for thousands of years. 





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