Thursday, November 15, 2012

How to Tell if Your Probiotic is Good

Apple Slices

There are many people buying probiotics these days in the effort to help digestive problems.  If you are looking for true healing for yourself or your family, please see my posts on GAPS.  There are many, many probiotics available.  How do you know if yours is effective?  Let me start out by saying that I don't believe any probiotic will be effective if it has been sitting on a store shelf, unrefrigerated for a long amount of time.  It is best to buy probiotics that are refrigerated in the store instead of sitting on a regular shelf.  Natasha Campbell-McBride (creator of the GAPS diet for healing auto-immune disorders), recommends Bio-Kult Probiotic, which has been properly processed and has the correct strains in high enough amounts for healing.  But how can you be sure that your probiotic contains live, beneficial bacteria?  After all, that is the only way the probiotic will help you.  Otherwise you're just throwing your money away.

Here is a simple test to check if your probiotic contains active cultures or not.

You will need:
  • 2 containers to hold liquid (clean yogurt cups, plastic cups, mugs, shallow bowls, etc. Just make sure they are similar in size and shape.)
  • 1 cup of regular milk. 
  • 2-3 sample probiotic pills from your bottle.
What to do:
  • Pour 1/2 cup of regular milk into each container.
  • Split open your pills and sprinkle the contents into ONE of the containers. Mix it well into the milk.
Wait overnight, or about 8-10 hours to check the results.  When you check after this time, if the milk containing the probitic has curdled, clumped or become firm, it is proven to be active. If the milk appears the same in both containers (watery and not curdled), you have an inactive bottle and should ask to have your money back!

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  1. Thank you Emily. This is great information! I have always wondered how I know whether or not I have active cultures.

  2. This is flawed for multiple reasons.
    1. Only lactobacilli bacteria will process milk, hence the 'lacto' in their title, and not all species of lactobacilli will process milk in such a way that you will see any curdling. Now if you are taking a probiotic that is predominantly bifido bacteria, you will not see any activity in that milk whatsoever, because that's not what bifido bacteria does. You're talking thousands of different species of bacteria, and only a small handful are responsible for yogurt making, and even then only certain strains of those species.
    2. You're conducting this test at room temperature, not at constant body temperature. Any probiotic worth its salt with be derived from human strains, which means they were raised to thrive in a human environment. If you're letting them sit on the counter at room temperature, they are most likely still feeling hypothermic and half-asleep. I wouldn't want to work either if I were that cold.
    3. Some probiotics are enteric-coated, which means they have a shell around them to make them more shelf-stable. These coatings require stomach acid in order to break them down and free up the probiotics. Basically, the probiotics aren't released until your stomach digests them a bit. So unless your milk is at a PH level of 1.5 - 2 (and burning a hole through your bowl), you're not going to see those probiotics activate.

    So basically, this test is entirely inappropriate for testing the efficacy of probiotics.


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