By now, we all have become aware of the importance of probiotics not only in gut health but also in overall wellness. While many different types of probiotics are available, soil-based probiotics have gained popularity in recent years.
And I get asked from time to time about the hype of soil-based probiotics. That’s why I’ve brought up this article to help you figure out how soil-based probiotics differ from traditional ones, what benefits they confer, and which soil-based probiotics are the best.
Let’s go ahead and dive right in.
What are soil-based probiotics?
Soil-based probiotics are bacteria that are naturally found in the soil. These probiotics improve our health by directly introducing healthy soil bacteria into our gut.
Back in the day, SBOs were part of our food chain as we would normally get them from the soil where we would grow our own vegetables or get them from the farmer down the street.
Nowadays, our society moves away from local farming, and the world has also become hyper-sanitized, so we are not getting exposed to as much soil-based bacteria as we were in the past.
How are soil-based probiotics different from regular probiotics?
The main difference between soil-based organisms and traditional probiotics is their resilience.
Soil-based probiotics or the hardy members of the probiotic family
Soil-based probiotics contain bacteria species from the Bacillus family which are popular for their ability to form spores. The spores form a hard shell that makes them very stable and resistant to heat, acid, and other extreme conditions. This helps them to make it to the large intestine without getting damaged. The spores can then change into their active form to begin colonizing the gut.
Because of the spore-forming ability, soil-based organisms are more likely to survive through the GI tract compared to regular probiotics. This is why they have become a popular topic lately.
Their hardier nature also makes them shelf-stable and SBO probiotics don’t need to be refrigerated, making them a convenient choice for travel.
Benefits of soil-based probiotics
Balance your immune system
Soil-based probiotics increase levels of secretory IgA, which plays an important role in immune function. Many patients with autoimmune disease are deficient in IgA and having more of these soil-based organisms have a positive impact on autoimmune markers by restoring IgA levels.
Diversify your gut microbiome
Scientists haven’t yet singled out the healthiest microbial composition, but what’s clear so far is that when it comes to your microbiome, diversity is the goal. More diversity means greater resilience. Soil-based probiotics will add a wide array of beneficial bacteria to maintain a diverse colonizing microbiota with the potential to make you healthier.
Support digestive health and regular bowel movements
SBOs can help those looking for support for healthy digestion and normal elimination time. By supporting the efficient breakdown and absorption of nutrients from food, SBOs are capable of reducing symptoms of constipation, gas, and bloating. Moreover, they also have been shown to decrease acute diarrhea (either viral or antibiotic-associated).
Reduce SIBO symptoms
SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, results from an imbalance of bacteria, specifically when there are large numbers of unwelcome bacteria in the small intestine. According to clinical trials, soil-based organisms are an effective option to suppress bacteria overgrowth in SIBO.
More importantly, they do not exacerbate symptoms of SIBO because they don’t colonize the small intestine. Instead, they head straight to the large intestine where they can support vibrant health benefits.
Ease symptoms of allergies
The use of SBO probiotics brings back natural microbial exposure.
It is important because in a modern, hygienic society, decreased exposure to microbes has been linked to an increased risk of asthma and allergic diseases. This is often referred to as the hygiene hypothesis.
In a study conducted on children with allergic rhinitis, SBO probiotics (Bacillus clausii) showed a reduction in allergic symptoms and inflammatory parameters.
Common types of soil-based probiotics
- Bacillus coagulans
It is the most studied soil-based probiotic.
B. coagulans MTCC 5856 at a dose of 2 × 10(9) cfu/day for 90 days was found to be safe and effective in diarrhea-predominant IBS patients. Moreover, this probiotic showed robust efficacy in the treatment of patients experiencing IBS symptoms with major depressive disorder.
Another Bacillus probiotic B. coagulans Unique IS2 also showed a significant reduction in abdominal bloating in IBS patients after 8 weeks of supplementation.
- Bacillus subtilis
If you are struggling with constipation, it is one of the soil-based probiotics that you want to look for in the product you buy. It helps to increase gut motility, leading to not frequent stool, but at least daily stool.
In a large clinical trial, combined use of B. subtilis and lactulose showed superiority in increasing stool frequency and alleviation of symptoms of constipation compared to lactulose alone.
- Bacillus clausii
In a small study with 60 people, the probiotic product containing four strains (OC, NR, SIN, and T) of Bacillus clausii was shown to help control bacteria overgrowth in SIBO patients. Although it is a small study, the results are still noteworthy.
In a large-scale trial, 3178 children with acute diarrhea (viral or antibiotic-associated) were given 2 or 4 × 109 CFU of Bacillus clausii per day for 5–7 days in adjunct to standard therapy. The outcome was great with a quicker resolution of diarrhea.
Are soil-based probiotics safe to take?
While advocates praise SBOs for their ability to resist stomach acid and the lack of need for refrigeration, opponents of SBOs argue that because of their spore-forming nature, they proliferate rapidly, compete with our resident gut microbes, and in some cases, could even become pathogenic.
The specific Bacillus species that I have mentioned above, are safe and effective in human clinical trials.
Moreover, the two pathogenic SBOs, namely Bacillus anthracis and Bacillus cereus are not used in probiotic supplements.
My take is that soil-based probiotics are safe, as long as the strains that feature in the product are well-researched ones.
However, if you have a feeble immune system, SBO may not be safe for you. Therefore, be sure to check with your doctor before taking SBOs.
If you are in good health and you are reasonably fit, you could give spore-based probiotics a try.
Side Effects of SBO Probiotics
SBO probiotics’ side effects are the same as the side effects of regular probiotics. Possible side effects include mildly upset stomach, diarrhea, bloating, and gas. However, the side effects usually subside after a few days and are not of concern.
Our modern lifestyles come with a side effect of decreased interaction with our soil and environment. Soil-based probiotics ensure that we give our bodies back those healthy microorganisms that were naturally present in our gut.
These spore-producing bacteria survive the harsh conditions of the GI tract. So you can rest assured that you’re getting the recommended daily dose without the need for many CFU.
The best way to safely use soil-based probiotic supplements is to choose high-quality products that feature safe soil bacteria and those from reputable suppliers.
I hope my content helps clear up the puzzle of soil-based probiotics for you.