In the last several years, probiotics have become a primary weapon on the road to wellness — and for good reason. It is estimated that about 80 percent of the human immune system resides in the cells of the gut. Probiotics can help support and enhance this immune system.
If you've ever shopped for probiotics, though, you know exactly how many varieties are available. The two most common classes of probiotics are soil-based probiotics and gut probiotics. The bad news is that soil-based probiotics might not be your best option to support digestive health.
The following is an overview of what you need to know about soil-based probiotics.
What Are Soil-Based Probiotics?
Soil-based probiotics are a relatively new class of probiotic supplements. Soil-based probiotics utilize soil-based bacteria such as Bacillus coagulans and Bacillus subtilis which supporters say improve the bacteria in the human digestive tract and help create a more balanced gut microbiome. They are derived from the probiotics that occur in the soil, and may also be called "soil probiotics," "homeostatic soil organisms," "bacterial soil organisms" and "soil organisms."
The Difference Between Soil-Based Probiotics and Gut Probiotics
While soil-based organisms (SBOs) have their respective benefits, they are fundamentally different from the types of bacteria that already live in the human gut. After all, these organisms are coming from the soil, which is meant to nourish plants and animals, rather than humans.
Probiotics based on the bacteria that already live in the human body, or gut probiotics, on the other hand, have a better chance of improving the immune system and synchronizing with our natural systems.
Why Soil-Based Probiotics May Not Be as Good as Probiotic Supplements
SBOs have been a part of the human diet for thousands of years (think about the small amounts of soil you ingest when you eat a garden-fresh carrot or potato). However, a probiotic formulation should not contain mostly SBOs as soil is going to be a small part of any diet, even prehistoric diets.
SBOs can serve as a natural immune-booster when they are ingested in small portions. Because human exposure to SBOs has naturally decreased as humans have moved away from agricultural societies and into more urban ones, our gut flora may actually interpret high levels of SBOs as an imbalance.
In this case, SBOs can even go so far as to cause disease. When you consider the fact that SBOs were never supposed to be a primary component of the human gut microbiome, this makes sense. In many ways, introducing foreign materials into the intestinal tract is the biological equivalent of introducing an invasive species of fish to a delicate, high-mountain lake.
Taking a probiotic that is made up entirely of SBOs is especially risky given the fact that SBOs create new spores rapidly, and can quickly throw the entire flora of the digestive system off-balance.
What Defines a Good Probiotic Supplement
If you are looking for a way to supplement intelligently and support the health of your gut microbiome accordingly, traditional probiotics are likely the way to go. However, before you start taking probiotic supplements — or any other kind of supplements — consult a doctor.
When the supplement you choose contains the probiotic strains already found in your intestine such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species, also known as resident probiotic strains, you'll get greater peace of mind and the certainty that comes with knowing your gut is colonized the way it should be. What's more, these naturally occurring microbiomes are ready and waiting to improve your health.
If you would to incorporate SBO probiotics into your diet we recommend taking a small amount in relation to the amount of resident probiotics you take.