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Myth #8 Multi-strain just means different freeze-dried bacteria mixed together

Myth #8 Multi-strain just means different freeze-dried bacteria mixed together

Most freeze-dried probiotic products have a seemingly impressive list of microbes listed on the label. The assertion is then made that the product is ‘multi-strain’. While this is true in a very limited sense, it is really sidestepping the whole reason why a consumer would want a multi-strain product in the first place.

 In the real world, microbes are never alone, they never live only among their own species/strain. Microbes are always in vast communities with friends and competitors engaged in an eternal struggle for survival. Very early in the development of probiotics, it was observed that cultures containing several different microbes tended to outperform cultures containing only a single strain. These observations were generally on live active cultures, not just blends of various powdered freeze-dried bacteria.

Common myths about probiotics #6

Common myths about probiotics #6

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.

Common probiotic myths #4

LiveBrew probiotics

Big numbers on the label mean big numbers when taken?

The overwhelming majority of products that say “probiotic” on the label only provide a count for the number of microbes present AT THE TIME OF MANUFACTURE. This is a very different number than the count at the time of use! Most ‘probiotic’ products contain a small fraction of the number counted at the time of manufacture by the time they are used by the consumer. Very, very few manufacturers guarantee the number of microbes in their product throughout the entire shelf life period.

Combine this with the fact that freeze-dried cultures of any number face considerable challenges (see Myth #3) when taken, and one can see that the very big numbers on the label of a freeze-dried product can easily fall below the level of being able to produce a probiotic effect.