There are a number of common myths and misconceptions about probiotics. While these generally benefit the manufacturer or seller of a product with “probiotic” written on the label, they often do not help a person reading the label to decide if they are looking at a credible and effective microbial tool to help them achieve their health and wellness goals.
In this series of blog posts, we take a closer look at these myths. We will conclude the series with our criteria for a truly effective probiotic microbial tool, a set of characteristics that only LiveBrew can meet.
Most people are familiar with freeze-dried “probiotic” products that come in a pill or sachet form. These products often feature very large numbers (many billions) and many strains/species of microbes listed on the label
Freeze-drying is a very effective way of storing microbial cultures in a -80C freezer they may be used by a laboratory at some later date. When a freeze-dried culture is used in a laboratory, the process of rehydration and returning the microbes to activity is optimized to treat the fragile, desiccated cells as carefully and gently as possible.
The environment found in the gut is very different and far harsher than the ideal conditions found in a laboratory petri dish and incubator. Dried, damaged cells have no defense against the rigors of the upper GI tract. Stomach acid and bile salt assault the microbes very soon after they are taken. Some manufacturers attempt to protect their microbes with various enteric coatings in the hope they can get past these early challenges, but even if these measures are successful, the teeming microbial throng in the intestine creates a very challenging environment for the freeze-dried microbes and the overwhelming majority are simply digested.
Another problem with freeze-dried cultures is the lag time that occurs between ingestion and their return (if at all) to active metabolism and reproduction. This means that even if a small number of the freeze-dried microbes do survive the challenges of the GI tract and are able to return to active life, they have done so lower in the GI tract and thus can only provide significant effects to that segment of the GI tract.
Freeze-drying is a valid method of long-term preservation for laboratory storage and later use. But freeze-dried cultures are no more a ready to use product than a sack of flour is a chocolate cake.
Next week Myth #2