Probiotics are everywhere nowadays. And it understandable why–one of the most important discoveries of our generation is the human microbiome, a network of trillions of bacteria that are contained within our body. And this network of bacteria within our body is massive. We are actually more bacterial DNA than human DNA. It’s estimated there are 39 trillion bacterial cells and about 30 trillion human cells inside your body at any given moment give or take the seasons. And through the National Institutes of Health Human Microbiome Project much has been discovered that we didn’t know before about how your gut affects your overall health. For instance, your gut has the ability to affect your mood, regulate your immune system, support your metabolism, help you sleep as well as being linked to things like brain diseases, IBS, type 1 diabetes, Hashimoto’s, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. But as we are learning about the human microbiome, there have been several myths and mistruths created in order to sell products to improve your health. Are you curious in finding out if you’ve been duped? Read on…
Myth # 1: A probiotic needs to be refrigerated to be a “good” probiotic
False. Though it’s common to find probiotics in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, refrigeration is not an indication of a good quality probiotic. In fact, it’s actually a sign of a very weak probiotic. If your probiotic cannot survive at room temperature without falling to pieces, then how do you think it will survive in your 98-degree body, much less through your harsh, extremely acidic digestive tract? Short answer: it won’t. The first important feature of a probiotic is that it is proven to survive passage through the stomach acid and the small intestine to get to the site of action. If it arrives to the site of action dead, it’s not a true probiotic.
To know if your probiotic is better, It should be obvious that the probiotic has been tested for stomach (gastric) survival. For example, spore based bacteria have an armor like shell around themselves to naturally survive the stomach acid and make it to the intestines alive. They get to the site of action alive and viable 100% of the time and can go to work for you fixing your gut.
So look for a probiotic that focuses on spores.
Myth # 2: What you see on the label is what you get in the capsule
Not necessarily. A study University of California San Diego found that only 1 in 16 bottles of probiotics actually contained the strains and the potency listed on the label. Think about that, 15 out of 16 products tested had different bacteria in the capsule than what was claimed on the label. That means you have no idea what kind of bacteria you are putting into your body and the companies making the product have no idea what bacteria they are working with. I’m a mom of a child with food allergies and that is a very frightening proposition. Unless the company producing your probiotics conducts DNA verification on their product after manufacturing, there is no guarantee that you will receive the strains listed on the label. So look for products that call out DNA verified.