Myth #6: All “probiotic” microbes are equal
There are a broad range of microbes touted as being “probiotic”. Lactobacilli and bifidobacteria are common in many ‘traditional’ probiotics, but one may find many novel products claiming to be probiotic with other types of microbes listed on the label.
Many processed foods now claim to be probiotic. These products are manufactured with spore forming (Bacillus) microbes. A Bacillus microbe can cease activity and form an endospore which are very tough and can endure certain manufacturing processes. The problem with spore-forming microbes is this very capacity to form a spore. When challenged, rather than fighting to the finish, they simply retreat into their spore form. This is not an option for ‘traditional’ probiotic microbes like lactobacilli.
Spore forming microbes also have a slightly higher risk than non-spore formers. In the very rare event that a probiotic microbe causes an infection (something that generally only happens in individuals who are severely immunocompromised) a spore-forming microbe can be harder to kill with pharmaceutical antibiotics than properly selected non-spore formers.