Someone pouring a handful of probiotics from a pill bottle into their hand

Probiotic vs Sporebiotic Supplement

You have heard of probiotics, prebiotics and maybe even postbiotics. But have you heard of sporebiotics or spore-based probiotics?

A sporebiotic is a type of probiotic that has the capability of forming a spore around itself. By doing this, it is able to go dormant when needed in order to survive. 

These dormant spores can then come back out of spore form in more favorable conditions. Read on to learn more about how sporebiotics differ from most probiotics as well as some of the benefits they carry. 

First, what actually is a probiotic? When we think of a probiotic supplement, we usually think of a capsule full of bacteria. Though you can find some yeast variations as well.

These products are labeled and marketed as probiotics. But are they? You may be surprised to know that there is an actually definition of “probiotic”. And it’s bit more specific than just a capsule of bacteria.

The True Definition of a Probiotic

According to the World Health Organization, the definition of a probiotic is a live organism which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit to the host. Since there are billions of microorganisms, how would we know which ones offer a benefit to us? Further, in what amount? Even further, which strains in particular?The answer is research.

We often hear the term “bacillus” thrown around in the probiotic world. But did you know that this bacteria has many different strains like bacillus coagulans, bacillus clausii and bacillus subtilis? And they do not all function the same nor would they have the same effects on a human host. 

In the United States, there are thousands of dietary supplements, including probiotic formulas, on the market today. These line retail and online “shelves” claiming all sorts of beneficial effects. Are they true? A lot of them are probably not.  

Supplements are not extremely well regulated and consumers should be cautious when spending their hard earned money on them. Not to mention the “risk” of taking them since many are poorly studied. Probiotics are no different in this way.

Where is the Research?

According to Kiran Krishnan, microbiologist and former research consultant for various supplement companies, many supplement companies don’t actually do research on their final probiotic product. Some may use existing research that indicates a potential benefit from the strains used in their product.

But according to Kiran, these companies should be doing research on their FINAL PRODUCT in order to accurately make the health claims they’re making. And often they’re not. 

While there may be some research done on bacteria strain X for example, regarding the benefits it may offer to humans. That doesn’t necessarily mean that putting large amounts of that bacteria into a capsule and taken orally by a human, will have the same benefits as the research shows in their study. 

How that product behaves in a human digestive tract, may be very different than how it behaves in a controlled environment in a research study. How do we know that it’s an effective probiotic if it hasn’t been tested and studied? 

Do Probiotics Survive in Our Bodies? 

Kiran further says that the research he has done on many probiotics on the market, show that many do not make it past your stomach acid alive. One of the roles of our stomach acid is to kill incoming, unwanted microbes as a protective mechanism to us. 

We swallow tons of microbes everyday through food, hand to mouth contact etc. Most don’t survive our extremely acidic gastric system and that’s a good thing.

Also, the probiotics that are refrigerated probably don’t make it alive to your lower GI tract either. Most of our gut bacteria should be living in our large intestine and smaller amounts in the tail end of our small intestine. 

If these probiotics require refrigeration to stay alive, how will they survive at 98.5 degrees through the majority of a human gastrointestinal tract? That is, if they make it through the bacteria killing acid bath of your stomach of course. Hmmmm. Something to think about.

Now that said, some dead bacteria can actually have a small amount of health benefit to us. The question is, what are the claims on your probiotic formula? What is the product promising you and is it accurate? Do the studies on that particular strain (if there are any) involve dead or alive bacteria?

Are They Even Supposed to be There?

One last point to consider when choosing a probiotic is this. There are billions of bacteria in existence. A healthy gut microbiome consists of only some of them that are actually native to and supposed to be living in your gut. Yes we want a vast microbial diversity but only within the realm of what is actually supposed to be there. We need to make sure that the probiotics we are taking are within this realm.

Otherwise, our immune system will see these as foreign invaders and actually create an immune reaction to them. This immune function causes inflammation in our body. So we actually have the potential of doing more harm than good with some of these probiotics.

Not to mention the fact that bacteria produce toxins. If you have healthy gut barrier function, then these toxins typically do not cause a problem in a healthy microbiome. But if we are giving ourselves a mega dose of bacteria that aren’t even supposed to be there? The toxic side effects of that could outweigh any potential benefit. 

So you’re probably wondering, are there any probiotics that are actually helpful? Here’s where sporebiotics come into play.

What are Sporebiotics?

First, one important point to note is that our bodies are covered in microbes including bacteria, inside and out, as is our environment. There, microbes live in the soil, water – on every surface of nature.

Think back to middle school science class for a minute. You may remember that some bacteria can form a spore around themselves when in unfavorable conditions as mentioned earlier. Kind of like a hard cocoon or natural outer shell. 

This allows the bacteria to survive but yet go into a dormant form in harsh environments. Then, in favorable environments, they’re able to come back out of dormant spore form into active form again.

Certain types of environmental bacteria have this capability. Some sporebiotics contain these types of bacteria that have been shown to have benefit to humans. And guess what? They survive our GI tract because of their spore forming capability.

Through research, Kiran and his team have been able to pin point strains of environmental spore forming bacteria that truly do have benefits to us in specific amounts.

Ancestral History

These particular strains are ones that our ancestors came in contact with all the time. They lived off the land, hunted and gathered. They were in close contact with their natural environment at all times. Consequently, they were in close contact with and ingesting these bacteria. 

They did not live in the sterilized environment swimming in hand sanitizer that we do now (though there is a time and a place). Their inadvertent use of spores through contact with nature provided much needed effects that we covet in a probiotic supplement today. 

Again through Kiran’s research, they’ve found that even though these bacteria are not necessarily native to our gut, our bodies see them as familiar because of our previous contact. We have binding receptors for them along our gut lining. Because of this, our body does not see them as foreign invaders. 

Benefits of Sporebiotics

Here are some benefits that sporebiotics offer.

  • Decreased inflammation 
  • Improved bowel movements
  • Improved skin health and decreased acne
  • Decreased intestinal permeability (leaky gut)
  • Increased immune support
  • Decreased stress and anxiety
  • Healthy gut balance
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased nutrient absorption
  • Decrease in visceral fat mass
  • Heightened sense of satiation cues 

The list above is based on published evidence from Kiran’s research. 

Another key feature that sets these sporebiotics apart is that they don’t take over our gut microbiome. They come in, work in a symbiotic relationship with us, and cycle back out after about 72 hours. Again, this goes back to how they interacted with us historically through constant environmental contact.

If you’ve read my post 10 Signs of an Unhealthy Gut, you’ll know how much the state of the gut microbiome affects other factors in our body. One way to take control of your gut health is to be cautious and intentional about the products we are putting in it. A research based, sporebiotic is one way to do that. 

Now, there are several sporebiotics on the market and they may not all be the same. I cannot put enough emphasis on this – always be sure that the probiotic company you choose has done substantial research on their final product.

As you may have guessed, one company that I trust is Kiran Krishnan’s company called Microbiome Labs. I am NOT affiliated with them in any way. I simply trust the company and use them myself. They have a sporebiotic that is called Mega Sporebiotic which has been heavily studied and proven to have the above listed benefits. 

You do need a patient direct code to order unless you’re ordering through a practitioner. If you are interested in a code to order yourself you can certainly reach out to me through Instagram or at thegreenleek@gmail.com.  

As always, thanks for reading!