What Are Probiotics?
by Marcus Antebi
Article at a Glance:
While vitamin supplements containing C, D3, B12 and A are critically important for immunity, it's the trace minerals such as Zinc, Magnesium, and Iron that are the "silver bullets" for a strong immune system. However, meat eaters and vegetarians alike commonly have deficiencies in these tiny things—good bacteria in the gut.
Probiotics (good bacteria) promote a balanced immune and digestive system and aid in the absorption of critical nutrients to support a healthy GI tract. There are trillions of good bacteria throughout the digestive tract, and they are necessary to counterbalance harmful bacteria in our systems. Probiotics protect you by preventing the proliferation of harmful bacteria, thereby destroying and inhibiting the growth of pathogens. Probiotics aid in the absorption of critical nutrients to support a healthy GI tract by altering the existing intestinal bacteria, enhancing the intestinal barrier function, and stimulating the immune system. Furthermore, current scientific advances and research have linked a number of common illnesses and health issues directly to an imbalance of good bacteria in the digestive system.
A major factor in digestive health is the balance of bacteria: 70 percent of your body’s immune system cells are in the digestive tract, so intestinal bacteria have a continuous and dynamic effect on both your gut and your immune system. A variety of factors (including diet, stress, pollution, pesticides, and frequent antibiotic use) can cause the good bacteria to lose territory within the digestive system. The bacteria in probiotics stimulate the gut to produce antibodies that protect against bad bacteria. As a result, probiotics help the immune system recognize and fight harmful bacteria.
“Probiotic” is a friendly word for good bacteria. You will hear a lot of buzzwords within the supplement industry, such as microbiome, intestinal flora, CFU, prebiotics, and strains.
- Microbiome refers to the microscopic universe of bacteria that resides in your gut, particularly in the small and large intestines.
- Intestinal flora is another word for good bacteria and probiotics; they both mean the same thing.
- CFU stands for colony forming units. This is another fancy word for a single bacteria that has the potential to divide and multiply, continuously forming a colony of the same bacteria.
- Strains reference any specific subtype of species. Each strain may have a different effect on the digestive system.
- Good bacteria are classified into categories called strains. Their behaviors can be observed under a microscope revealing their interaction with bad bacteria, a.k.a. pathogens.
- Pathogens are bad bacteria. There are a huge number of types. What makes them bad is that they destroy good bacteria and can harm healthy cells. Without our good bacteria, these bad types would overwhelm us. This is in part what causes illness and disease. Good bacteria inhibit the growth of pathogens.
Side note: the supplement industry overrates and wildly boasts the number of colony forming units (CFU) in their formulations. Read More
The consumer has no way of knowing that in order to fit more cells into the same small space, as with other common sizes of supplements, the cells have to be extremely small. This is not an advantage. The smaller cells are weaker, and of the ones we know of, they are not strong enough to kill more threatening invaders than the larger ones do. Size matters. GLB18, my digestive probiotic, is larger than most common friendly bacteria.
What Are Humans Made Of?
You are made up of 89% bacteria and only 11% human cells. The balance between good and bad bacteria rage in your body from birth to death.
A healthy immune system is for the most part controlled by the balance of good bacteria and bad bacteria beginning inside the gut.
The healthy balance is controlled by several factors:
- The presence of pathogens
- The overall diet
- Unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as alcohol and tobacco products
- Antibiotic treatments
- Environmental conditions and exposures
When your good bacteria are out of balance, meaning that they are too low in numbers compared to pathogens that reside in the gut, the environment becomes ideal for pathogens to proliferate. This is one reason we succumb to illness and disease.
When you are a fetus, your digestive system is generally sterile from bacteria in any form. It is during birth that you make contact with your mother's fluids, which contain bacteria. That bacteria enters into the digestive system, through your eyes, ears, nose mouth, and even through your skin.
When a baby is drinking its mother's milk, bacteria gets the food that it needs to survive. Mother’s milk also contains replacement bacteria. So, the milk contains both new good bacteria and food for the existing bacteria. The survival of the good bacteria has a direct positive impact on the baby's overall immune system.
Problems With Our Microbiome
- Throughout our lives we make choices that affect the balance of good vs bad bacteria in the digestive system. Hereditary and environmental factors affect us as well. Some problems such as having an acidic diet, stress and antibiotic treatments may cause the decline of good bacteria. What’s worse is that if the numbers of a specific strain of useful bacteria get too depleted then they may not be able to repopulate.
- Additionally, exposure to a particular pathogen could damage the good flora. Some pathogens such as H. pylori can wreak havoc, causing diseases; H. pylori is the strain of bacteria linked to dangerous ulcers in the gut.
Solution: Because we all have imperfect lifestyles, supplementation of a proven probiotic may be a solution to restore gut flora balance.
- An effective probiotic is able to survive the stomach’s low pH balance. GLB18 can survive at a pH level as low as 2.4 pH and thrives and multiples in the normal pH range of the small and large intestines.
- When the surviving cells enter into the small and large intestines, they enter a universe with trillions of cells, both friendly and unfriendly. There’s a lifelong battle going on in that microbiome. The good bacteria have to win in order for the body to be healthy.
- All bacteria, good and bad, compete for food and territory. They are territorial creatures armed with chemical weapons. A good bacteria, such as GLB18, releases protein when it detects the genetic material of a pathogen. What makes GLB18 and similar bacteria friendly is that their protein release only destroys bad cells. The rest of the good bacteria are left alone. This is incredible natural biological technology.
- Probiotics that are paired with different strains are generally not tested to conclude whether or not these friendly cells compete and destroy each other. Because there are so many millions of different strains already in your gut, it doesn’t make a difference that you’re introducing nine different ones at the same time. You just need one strong friendly one to make the journey and survive.
- The family of the particular bacteria used in GLB18 have been shown in laboratory tests to kill E. coli, salmonella and listeria. (Harvard University has a published paper on this particular subset of friendly bacteria that you can read.)
- Prebiotics are food for probiotics. They are smaller particles of materials that ideally are from plant-based foods. The probiotic derives its energy from prebiotic material to carry out their functions.
If you do further research, you can look at all the ways that probiotics are being studied for use in treatment of cancer and other diseases and health problems, including depression. It’s amazing to see how all of these things are linked.
All probiotics are not created equally.
Our bacteria are 100% vegan, derived from flowers obtained from the mountains of Europe. They are then cultured in a lab and grow in vegetable juice (not dairy).
Probiotics are an important part of any healthy lifestyle, as they are scientifically proven to be very effective for good digestion and immune health support. As with everything we do, we wanted to provide our community with a probiotic that met our standards: Top of the line, pure, vegan, unprocessed, and, of course, organic.
Originally, my partner and I looked for laboratories that had a vegan all natural probiotic. We were very fortunate that my partner had a business associate in Bulgaria who was connected to University of Sofia. He had all the connections we needed to start our Probiotic enterprise.
Our first two discoveries were GLB44 and GLB18: Both vegan, and both with similar benefits. Both were sourced from plants and grown in organic vegetable juices in the sterile laboratory in Sofia.
These probiotic strains are known to support digestive and immune health and outcompete harmful bacteria. Because they are 100% vegan, they are not inflammatory and do not cause bloating. They are both cruelty-free and sustainable.
Are there any allergens in our probiotics?
No. Both are vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free. In the manufacturing facility, both are grown in organic, raw vegetable juices. Both do not contain milk, soy, wheat, nuts or any other major allergen as defined by the FDA.
Can I take an antibiotic or another probiotic with either of the probiotics that you offer?
Yes! Antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria and supplementation helps restore the good bacteria. Neither of them compete with the antibiotic. While on antibiotics, both help to enhance the good flora in your gut, and help ensure that the post-antibiotic regrowth of digestive bacteria is mostly good flora bacteria.
Do either of your probiotics have the same side effects (gas, bloating, etc.) of some other probiotics?
Neither of them cause gas or bloating. Probiotics containing L. bulgaricus or Lactobacillus plantarum may even relieve abdominal bloating and other irritable syndrome symptoms.*
How are these probiotics made?
Friendly bacteria are naturally found in specific flowers in the mountains of Bulgaria. The extracted bacteria is then grown in raw, pure, organic vegetable juice, and after 24 hours the liquid is dehydrated at low temperatures to preserve the full vitality of the probiotic.
How often should I use probiotics?
I recommend taking probiotics daily—not just when you are sick or traveling—with no maximum course duration, as probiotics are safe in limitless quantities. Because the levels of bacteria in our immune system vary depending on multiple factors (including stress, work, and sleep levels), I advise taking probiotics daily. Doing so will help you to maintain a high number of good bacteria that support a healthy digestive system and a healthy immune system at all times.
Are probiotics safe? Can one overdose on probiotics?
These families of probiotics are recognized by the FDA as safe for all ages in limitless quantities. They both have been in use for over 60 years in consumer products such as starter cultures in yogurt.
Are probiotics safe for children and elderly?
Probiotics are safe for people of all ages—children, adults, and the elderly.
Main Benefits of Probiotic Bacteria
Bacteria are the most common form of life on planet Earth. The bacteria that is normally present in and/or on the human body outnumber the cells that make up our bodies by tenfold. They play an important role in keeping us healthy. These good bacteria provide nutrients for us, prevent pathogenic or bad bacteria from growing in or on our bodies, and help our immune system develop normally. Many of these good bacteria belong to a group called lactobacilli. The food that we eat, the water that we drink, and even the air that we breathe all contain bacteria and are an important way to replenish the good bacteria living in and on our bodies. Most people are only aware of the bacteria that cause infections, while the bacteria that help us stay healthy are largely unknown to the general public.
It has been recognized for some time that certain good bacteria are active in suppressing the growth of other, more harmful types of bacteria. A great deal of scientific research has been directed at these helpful, or probiotic, bacteria types. Probiotic bacteria have been included in a variety of foods that we eat, such as yogurt, to replenish the bacteria in our bodies and promote better health. In fact, the FDA requires that specific strains of good bacteria, such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus, must be present in order for fermented dairy products to be called yogurt.
Written by: Andrew B. Onderdonk
Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School
More About Probiotics by M. Antebi
When your good bacteria are out of balance, meaning that they are too low in numbers compared to pathogens that reside in the gut, the environment becomes ideal for pathogens to proliferate. This is one reason that we succumb to illness and disease. Probiotics (good bacteria) promote a balanced immune system and a balanced digestive system and aid in the absorption of critical nutrients to support a healthy GI tract. There are trillions of good bacteria throughout the digestive tract, and they are necessary to counterbalance harmful bacteria in our systems. Probiotics protect you by preventing the proliferation of harmful bacteria, thereby destroying and inhibiting the growth of pathogens. Probiotics aid in the absorption of critical nutrients to support a healthy GI tract by altering the existing intestinal bacteria, enhancing the intestinal barrier function, and stimulating the immune system. Furthermore, current scientific advances and research have linked a number of common illnesses and health issues directly to an imbalance of good bacteria in the digestive system.
A major factor in digestive health is the balance of bacteria: 70 percent of your body’s immune system cells are in the digestive tract, so intestinal bacteria have a continuous and dynamic effect on both your gut and your immune system. A variety of factors can cause the good bacteria to lose territory within the digestive system, including diet, stress, pollution, pesticides, and frequent antibiotic use. The bacteria in probiotics stimulates the gut to produce antibodies that protect against bad bacteria. As a result, probiotics help the immune system recognize and fight harmful bacteria.
A Story about Probiotics
Years ago when I started Juice Press, my good friend and mentor Fred Bisci really accelerated my learning process. He gave me bits of information that were so simple to follow. It seemed as though I had a laser to cut through all of the nonsense circulated in the health and wellness industry.
That industry has some individuals and organizations that offer great products and services and operate with honesty and integrity. It has others who promote poor products, are not knowledgeable about their alleged areas of expertise, and are flat out dishonest and unethical due to their greed and lack of concern for others.
But Fred epitomizes the best of the best of professionals in the health and wellness industry. He’s a highly educated individual with a nutritional practice in Staten Island. He’s been 100% raw vegan for over 50 years, and he’s 90 years old. He’s done two 40-day water fasts and much, much more to push his own body to its limits. He is a great test pilot and a ravenous consumer of knowledge.
Fred told me that if I was going to offer a juice cleanse as a product in business, I had to have an accompanying probiotic. I had never heard the word probiotic before Fred enlightened me. At the time, I was selling what have become the most expensive probiotic on the market. Some of it sold, but in the end it was just too expensive for the time and far too outlandish, even though the efficacy was amazing.
My business partner sourced this extremely effective probiotic from one of the capitals of probiotic science—Bulgaria. We did extensive testing on a product that had been in the marketplace as a starter culture to make yogurt. It was purely natural and 100% vegan. We had Harvard University do some studies on it. [Posted Report: www.glb44.org] Harvard has been researching probiotics for decades. They have one of the most prestigious and accomplished probiotic research facilities in the world.
I’ve learned how to teach the general consumer who isn’t particularly interested in molecular science to think about probiotics; it’s a very basic lesson. If you could put on a special pair of glasses that showed you bacteria, you would see an infinite amount of bacteria moving in all directions, covering endless amounts of space. On your own body, you would be able to see that you are 89% bacteria surrounded by 11% human cells; it’s quite remarkable.
We grow up believing that bacteria is inherently a bad thing. In reality, the planet is made up of good and bad bacteria. As a living organism, you have an immune system, which acts as a defense designed to keep out or subdue hostile invaders. This battle is raging from the moment you enter your mother’s womb until your last breath.
There are many ways bacteria can enter your body beyond simply ingesting food and water. Since the nose and mouth are the most pronounced entryways for bacteria, it goes without saying that they are aligned with the greatest number of front line defenses.
The digestive system has trillions of good bacteria that clean your inner lining and mingle with food particles and enzymes to synthesize or make certain nutrients. The bacteria also voraciously go after food particles to consume them in order to stay alive and multiply. If you were to examine this process under a microscope, it might look like nature’s own beautifully choreographed ballet. It’s eerie to see all the collaboration and cooperation happening in a microbiome, a tiny living world.
When there is a deficiency of the good bacteria, the bad bacteria can begin to proliferate, which means they will start to multiply and exist in greater numbers. They compete with the body for nutrients and invade healthy cells to go after their genetic material. If a person is exposed to a greater amount of bacteria, such as in the case of someone sneezing on you, and you combine that with a compromised immune system, he or she then falls ill.
Falling ill is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s actually a sign of a healthy immune system. On the one hand, people who do not get sick may be the healthiest people in the world. But on the other hand, it could also mean that their immune systems are having a hard time kicking in. Instead, they detox everything and build up toxins. When you get sick with a cold, your body has reached its limit in terms of how it can function under normal circumstances, and it must trigger the detox process. It’s not working against you. Instead, it’s a beautiful orchestra and an equalizer for the system. White blood cells go after the foreign invaders. Your body can work itself up to a temperature that can make you shiver; it’s a spectacular and miraculous machine with incredible, divine healing powers.
There are a number of things that reduce the good bacteria in our bodies. One is certainly the use of antibiotic medications. The antibiotic medicines can kill everything indiscriminately, or they can simply suppress parts of the immune system.
Another reason our probiotics can be depleted is because of the diet we keep. Certain foods are destructive to the balance of the good bacteria (also known as good flora).
This is very important information, so please keep reading. When you work to keep your probiotic flora in balance, your immune system is directly impacted in a positive way. It’s irrefutable science in this day and age.
What scientists attempt to do is find strains of bacteria that are friendly to our environment internally and study whether they can win in fights against common diseases. Scientists believe that the future of dealing with certain types of diseases will be dealt with by using probiotic bacteria rather than antibiotics. In the meantime, there are quality supplements available.
The first misconception about probiotics is that all are created equal, and that just because someone put some in a bottle, they’re going to work the same way. That’s not true.
The second misconception is that if you look at the bottle and it has a very big number—like 1 billion or even 1 trillion colony forming units (CFUs)—you’re getting more for your money, and that’s not true either. The strain of bacteria is important, and some of the bacteria are very large in size, so they will never be equal in numbers compared to much smaller good bacteria. So this lower number can be deceiving. The larger bacteria in some cases are much more effective in fighting bad bacteria, so ignore that CFU number.
Some probiotics need to be refrigerated. This is the case because they’re living inside of something that will spoil, such as a dairy product. It’s the dairy products hosting the probiotics that need refrigeration, not the probiotics themselves.
Many of the readily available probiotics are very common strains that are usually in abundance in the digestive system. This being the case, they might not be as effective as certain other probiotics. Some of the rarer probiotics have been proven to be more helpful for certain types of digestive functionality.
Probiotics are approved by the FDA. Generally speaking, a probiotic supplement is safe for very young children all the way up to people who are 150, considering the number of strains of bacteria in a single dose: What we use doesn’t matter, it’s what the strain does that matters.
Our probiotic is from a flower and not from an animal source. It does not need to live in a dairy medium, so it remains vegan. These types of bacteria live in a suspended state, and they become alive when they hit the inside of your mouth. They are in a suspended state because all of them are single-celled organisms that wake up when they’re hungry. It's best if there’s food in your digestive system when taking this probiotic. The particles of food to be consumed, referred to as prebiotics, create an oasis. But they, too, break down to bacteria, so technically they are also probiotics.
All statements herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products on this website were not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.