Have you heard about soil-based probiotics? Curious if they might be beneficial for you health? Probiotics are well known for their heath benefits not only for digestion but for immunity, skin and mental health. Soil base probiotics are gaining more and more attention due to their resilience and ability to thrive. When the probiotic you take can survive and thrive, you get the benefits! which ultimately helps us become more resilient and thrive! We'll help you decide if taking a soil-based probiotic is right for you. Then, check out our top 4 recommended brands!
Probiotics from Dirt
You many be thinking, “Soil based probiotics. Why on earth would I want to eat bacteria that comes from dirt?”. Well, you may be surprised to learn that we used to eat A LOT of dirt bugs. In fact, if you are an avid gardener or spend a lot of time outdoors you may actually be ingesting soil-based probiotics all the time! Unfortunately, most of us live in a super-sanitized world (even more now…thanks to COVID 👎). So, supplementing with probiotics is a great option to help get our bodies get back to their natural, healthy state.
You may be familiar with dietary sources of probiotics. Foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi. But, when it comes to supplements, you may feel a little lost. And it's not surprising, given the number of brands you have to choose from. As a dietician, it's one of the most common questions I get!
Over the last 10 years, supplemental probiotics have gained immense popularity. The health and wellness industry continue to research and show their immense health benefits. They are known to help so many conditions including IBS, UTIs, eczema and even depression. Not only are they available in supplemental capsule form, they're also being added to everything from water to chocolate!
Now, bear with me as we continue through the post, as things get a little technical. There's a lot of great information but if you'd rather jump around here's a handy table of contents to help!
- Probiotics from Dirt
- What is the microbiome?
- What are soil-based probiotics?
- Are soil-based probiotics the same as spore-based probiotics?
- Why are soil-based probiotics better than other probiotics?
- How long does it take for spore-based probiotics to work?
- What are some signs that probiotics are working?
- Where do soil-based probiotics come from?
- What are the side effects of spore based probiotics?
- What strains of probiotics are soil based?
- Top 4 Best Soil-Based Probiotics
- Exclusive Discount: Don't Forget to Sign-Up!
What is the microbiome?
Before we get into the details of soil based probiotics it's important to understand the microbiome. The microbiome is a community of bacteria that reside in our the gastrointestinal tract, or GI tract. Here's a quick little anatomy lesson. The GI tract actually starts in the mouth, includes the nasal passages, and ends….well, at you “end” 😜. The bacteria in the GI tract have many important functions. Not only do they help us digest food, they also produce important nutrients such as vitamin K.
We're made of trillions of microorganisms!
The human body is home to trillions of microorganisms, collectively referred to as the gut microbiome. This ecosystem is incredibly complex and constantly changing. The microbiome is full of bacteria, fungi, and viruses sharing space on the lining of the digestive tract. Ya, I know, sounds kinda gross!
However, healthy gut bacteria are essential for a wide variety of processes, including digestion, immune function, and nutrient absorption. Imbalances in the gut microbiome can lead to a wide range of health issues. Issues such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), obesity, allergies, and even cancer.
When the Microbiome Becomes Unbalanced
There are several ways that the gut microbiome can become unbalanced. The most common cause is an unhealthy diet. Unhealthy diets that are high in sugar and processed foods and low in prebiotic food (healthy bacteria's food source). An unhealthy diet can provide an environment that lets pathogenic (bad) bacteria thrive.
Antibiotic use or exposure to other medications may also change the mix of bacteria in your gut. Other factors include stress, poor sleep quality, and alcohol consumption. Once the balance has shifted, it can take a really long time to get it back to a healthy state. This is where supplementation comes in. It can help return your microbiome back to a balanced, healthy state faster than diet and lifestyle changes alone.
What are soil-based probiotics?
Before we get into the specifics of soil-based probiotics, let's chat about probiotics in general.
Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that help to maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria. These good bacteria compete with pathogenic or ‘bad' bacteria. What we mean by compete is that they are in competition with with each other to take up space and nutrients to live, grow and multiply.
Probiotics that we typically see at health food stores come from the Lactobacillus acidophilus or Bifidobacterium species. Soil-based probiotics are numerous and diverse in terms of species. They're typically found in the earth where they naturally help plants produce vitamins, break down materials and fight pathogens like fungus and bacteria.
When consumed by humans, soil-based probiotics have similar benefits. They've shown great success at helping with allergic reactions, improving symptoms of depression, boosting the immune system, improving symptoms of bacterial vaginosis, stopping the spread of cancer cells, reducing abdominal pain and bloating, and preventing and treating diarrhea. (source) Phew – long list, right?!
Soil-Based Probiotics = Spore-based Organisms
Soil-based probiotics are also referred to as spore-based organisms (SBO), due to their spore forming characteristic. Spores have a protective coating making them resistant to digestive stomach acid and digestive enzymes. The acid and enzymes typically kill most bacteria. Because they can survive, these spores can make it to the small intestines and lower digestive tract (large intestine). Once they reach these areas they are able to live, grow and multiply.
Soiled-based probiotics work similarly to other probiotics. Once they reach the intestines it takes only 8 minutes for these little microorganisms to attach themselves to the intestinal wall where they become active and go to work!
When consumed in large enough numbers these beneficial spore-forming bacteria take control of the GI environment and the ‘bad' pathogenic bacteria die off. There may still be some bad bacteria present in the gut but the good bacteria keep them in check leading to a healthy microbiome. This healthy microbiome improves digestive health, helps calm the intestines (as inflammation is reduced), improves immune function, cognition, hormonal balance, and mood! Thanks to these soil based probiotics, we can get our bodies closer to our ancestral norms. A ‘normal' state that our bodies were designed for, before the excess use of antibiotics, pesticides, and GMOs.
Are soil-based probiotics the same as spore-based probiotics?
Yes, soil-based probiotics are the same as spore-based probiotics. Soil-based probiotics have endospores, this is a hard encasing of the probiotic strains and are resistant to stomach acid. This is the reason why soil-based probiotics or spore-based probiotics are better than other probiotics. The endospores enable these probiotic strains safe access to the digestive tract making the probiotics more effective. The endospores protect the probiotic strains from the stomach acid that usually dissolves the protective pill capsule of regular probiotics.
These spores don’t just protect the soil-based probiotics from stomach acid but also from heat and oxygen. This allows them to be shelf stable. They are perfect for those who like to travel as they don't need refrigeration.
Why are soil-based probiotics better than other probiotics?
One of the main reasons soil based probiotics may be better than the common varieties is that they don't become ineffective after ingestion.
Hydrochloric acid in the stomach can break down/kill the active microorganism, rendering them ineffective. Simply stated, if a probiotics can't reach its intended destination it will be a total waste of money.
Soil-based probiotics are more resilient than other probiotics, they are shelf-stable and don't need to be refrigerated. Soil-based probiotics are also thought to multiply faster making them more effective than other probiotics.
When it comes to specific conditions, soil-based probiotics may be better at helping irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), reducing unwanted IBS symptoms and generally improving digestive health compared to species.
Another positive affect of soil based probiotics is the positive affect on mental health. Some people show a reduced level of anxiety which seems to align with the theories around the brain-gut axis.
Its also been shown that soil-based probiotics may help with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, also known as SIBO. SIBO occurs when the normal balance of the gut microbiota is disrupted and an overgrowth of bacteria occurs, moving upwards in the GI tract. This overgrowth can also contribute to leaky gut (which we've talked lots about on the blog!) leading to its own host of issues from skin concerns to inflammation!
Another bonus is for those following a vegan lifestyle. Other probiotics are not vegan in formulation. Soil-based probiotics are completely vegan (but always check the label!). (source)
How long does it take for spore-based probiotics to work?
How quickly probiotics work depends on various factors such as health condition, product quality, the probiotic strain, and dose. These factors all determine how quickly you should expect to see changes when the probiotic has been ingested.
The time it takes for spore-based probiotics to work also relates to why you're taking them.
For minor issues like diarrhea, probiotics can help eliminate the symptoms within a few days.
When it comes to improving the digestive health it can take a few weeks to see significant changes.
People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) should expect to see changes within 8 weeks or more. For respiratory infections, continuous use of probiotics for 12 weeks has resulted in changes. (source)
To see the best results with probiotics you need to take them daily or as prescribed by your physician. Also make sure you follow the directions on how to start taking them. Generally, you want to start slow, even taking a pill every other day, so you can slowly build up to tolerating the probiotics and avoid any side effects such as abdominal discomfort.
What are some signs that probiotics are working?
One of the earliest signs that your probiotics are working is improved digestion. You may notice the loosening of stools and reduction in bloating and gas. If digestive issues weren't your main concern you may need to give it a few weeks before you start noticing the positive effects.
After a few weeks of taking the probiotics you may also notice positive effects on your mental health and mood. Soil based probiotics appear to help lower anxiety and depression and also show promise for improving memory and cognitive function. There is a strong connection between gut and cognitive health; also referred to as the gut-brain axis.
Another sign that your probiotics are working is an improvement in your skin. Soil based probiotics also appear to have positive effects on eczema and acne and an overall improvement in appearance. These little soil bugs can even help you glow!
As with most things, change happens slowly so be patient 🙂 Some people may not see any changes for weeks while others may see signs in a few days.
Where do soil-based probiotics come from?
Soil-based probiotics originated just like they sound; from the earth.
Our ancestors would regularly be exposed to soil based probiotics as they foraged for food. A little different than today as most of us head to our closest sanitized grocery store to pick out our food!
The food we eat has typically been cleaned and prepped or grown with pesticides that strip or destroy those naturally occurring bugs. It's worth noting, though, that this is a good thing. With conventional and commercial production of food, the methods used to produce food can lead to pathogenic contamination….like e-coli on our lettuce!!! So, this post is NOT suggesting you don't wash your fruits and veggies, in an attempt to get more soil-based probiotics in your diet!
You can naturally consume some soil based probiotics from eating properly fermented foods such as Natto and Gari but if eating fermented food isn't for you, then a supplement it the next best thing!
What are the side effects of spore based probiotics?
For those with a healthy immune system (those who are not immuno-compromised) soil-based probiotics shouldn't have any serious side-effects. There may be an initial period of adjustment to the new probiotic, which may result in some abdominal discomfort and gas, but generally if you start slow and work up to the recommended dose, you'll tolerate it without issue.
For those with a poor immune system there can be some side effects such as nausea, and vomiting.
What strains of probiotics are soil based?
Some common soil based strains include:
- Bacillus subtilis: this bacteria is found in the gastrointestinal tract of cows and humans and has shown good affect on UTI's.
- Basillus coagulans: produces lactic acid which is good for intestinal health.
- Bacillus indicus: this probiotic stimulates the immune system and produces high levels of vitamins
- Clostridium butyricum – this little bug is a natural resident in the human gastrointestinal tract. It helps ferment dietary fiber and supports the barrier of the gut.
- Bacillus clausii
- Saccharomyces boulardii
Lucy Mailing, who is an expert in this field of knowledge, has excellent information if you're looking for more. She provides scientific and thoroughly researched data on many different strains and products on the market.
It’s important to note that microbes are denoted by their genus, species, and strain. The list above provides the genus (e.g. Bacillus) and species (e.g. subtilis), but does not tell you anything about the strain. Strain is denoted by a series of letters/numbers that comes after the species name (e.g. DE111).
Strain is extremely important since two strains of the same species can have very different characteristics.3 Their therapeutic effects are strain-specific.
Top 4 Best Soil-Based Probiotics
Alright, I know that was like a mini biology lesson so let's get to the good stuff…here are our picks for the best soil based probiotic supplements!
There are numerous soil-based probiotics on the market, with numerous ingredients, but the soil-based probiotics listed below are some of our favorites based on research, reviews and personal experience!
#1 Terra Flora by Enviromedica
Terra Flora is an excellent soil-based probiotic. It has a synbiotic formula engineered with spore-based probiotics and organic prebiotics that enhance gut health, brain health and supports immune system. They contains none of the common allergens (such as tree nuts, corn, gluten, wheat, shellfish, or corn), no animal byproducts and no sugar. Terra Flora is shelf-stable (meaning they don't need to be refrigerated) and has a long shelf life and they won't expire as quickly as other probiotics on the market.
I personally have been taking Terra Flora's Deep Immune and have been really happy with how my digestion and skin have improved!
Root + Revel has teamed up with Enviromedica and they have generously offered an EXCLUSIVE discount code only for our email community! Sign up through the form below and we'll send you the code to save 15% off your purchase!
Primal Earth is another excellent choice for a soil-based probiotics. It contains three different strains of live probiotics, containing symbiotic microorganisms with a spore-like protective coating.
This supplement is great for people who've just taken a course of antibiotics! This probiotic can also help increase your levels of immunoglobulin A which is an antibody that's part of your immune system specifically supporting the respiratory and digestive systems.
This is another amazing formula and another brand that I personally take. It combines three human strains of soil based probiotic that has been clinically studied. These strains have been used in hospitals and pharmacies throughout Asia for over 60 years.
The only downside to this formula is that they do recommend you keep it in the refrigerator which isn't ideal for those that like to travel.
This soil based probiotic is a combination of three clinically tested soil-based strains with a prebiotic. Each dose has 11 million CFU (colony-forming units). It doesn’t need refrigeration, is vegan and it doesn’t contain soy, tree nuts, or preservatives!
So there you have it, our in depth look at soil-based probiotics and our picks for our favorite supplements.
Soil-based probiotics are safe, highly effective and can help support so many functions in our body. We can't change our DNA but we can support changes to our microbiome through the right food and supplements.
Do you take a probiotic? How have they worked for you? We'd love to hear from you so leave us a comment below!
Here's to a Happy Microbiome!
Sarah & The Root + Revel Team
Please note: Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and those with a compromised immune system should consult a health expert before taking soil-based probiotics. If you experience prolonged side effects after taking soil-based probiotics, it’s advised you discontinue use and seek consultation from your doctor.
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