When exploring different options for probiotic supplements, it’s easy to get confused.
Some will tout their high CFU count as evidence of their efficacy, while others will be marketed on their specific strains and species. Still others will say that they are best for treating certain ailments (such as IBS or GERD) while some seem to have impossibly high numbers of ‘good’ bacteria that are ‘proven’ to restore your health.
There’s one very important thing to keep in mind. Those high numbers and special strains aren’t any good to you if they haven’t survived the passage to your gut!
Research has shown that in order for probiotics to be of any benefit, they must first survive the journey through the acidic environment of your gastrointestinal tract. (1)
While it’s also possible (and advisable) to obtain probiotic bacteria from eating probiotic foods, fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi aren’t to everyone’s tastes. It’s also more difficult to know what strains and quantities of beneficial bacteria are contained in certain foods. This makes probiotic supplements a much more convenient choice.
Unfortunately, probiotic supplements have a tough journey.
Once swallowed, those probiotic bacteria head straight to your stomach, which is a strong acid bath with a pH less than 3. They also face destructive digestive enzymes including pepsin (which breaks down protein).
The bacteria that do survive will then continue down to the small intestine, which is more alkaline, but also where they encounter more digestive enzymes: amylase, lipase and protease as well as bile. Some studies show that survival rates for certain strains of probiotics are as low as 20%.
In order to colonize your gut, bacteria must be delivered in a way that allows them to get through the harsh environment of your stomach.
This is where many probiotic supplements fail. Research shows that probiotic supplements in vegetable capsules only deliver 4% of their bacteria past stomach acid.
Simply put: if the probiotics aren’t delivered in a form that protects them from stomach acid, those living organisms will be ruined before they even reach your intestines – let alone provide any benefits. It can also be a substantial waste of money!
So, which probiotic technology is best?
The rising preference for non-animal-derived products has seen an increase in the availability of medicines and supplements in a vegetable capsule.
Vegetable capsules are made of hypromellose, a polymer formulated from plant cellulose. While this sounds better for you, it’s not particularly good at protecting probiotic bacteria from stomach acid.
As you may already know, your stomach is naturally acidic in order to break down the food you eat. However, this acidity can also break down a standard vegetable capsule, which will cause it to release the probiotic contents. Unfortunately, those bacteria are no match for your stomach acid, either! They will be quickly destroyed before they have a chance to reach your gut.
In fact, research shows that regular vegetable capsules will only get around 4% of their contents past your stomach acid. As a result, those live organisms won’t get a chance to reach your intestines – and therefore won’t have any effect on your health.
While veggie capsules may be suitable for other supplements that aren’t affected by gastric acids, they aren’t really the right delivery system for probiotics.
The alternative is time-release probiotics. These include BIO-tract and Delayed-Release Capsules.
Time-release probiotics are much more effective at getting bacteria past stomach acid and to the gut. They come in two forms:
Delayed-release capsules are made of a synthetic material that can tolerate the harsh environment of your stomach, so it will survive the passage through to your intestines.
They are usually enteric-coated, which means they have a polymer barrier that prevents the capsule from dissolving or disintegrating in the gastric environment.
This material can remain stable at the highly acidic pH present in the stomach but will quickly break down in an environment with a higher pH. The intestines are more alkaline, so this is where the capsule will release its contents.
The most effective form of time-release technology is BIO-tract. This is a form of delayed-release tablet that uses a special patented technology to protect the probiotic bacteria from stomach acid for longer. These tablets are made of natural, high-grade raw ingredients.
BIO-tract probiotic tablets work in the opposite way to other capsules. Rather than being destroyed in the gut, they become stronger.
When the BIO-tract tablets reach the stomach, a protective layer is activated by the moisture in the stomach environment. This causes a gel matrix to form around the tablet, creating a barrier that protects the probiotic contents from the harsh stomach acids and enzymes. The tablet then moves down to your gut, gradually releasing its contents as it goes.
The benefits of using BIO-tract for time-release probiotics is that the bacteria not only avoids being destroyed by gastric acids and are released over an 8-10-hour period. This means there’s a much higher chance of delivering beneficial bacteria to your intestinal tract, where they can establish themselves in your gut and begin colonizing.
Tests have shown that BIO-tract tablets are 15 times more effective than regular probiotics in vegetable capsules.
The time-release tablets also prevent air and moisture reaching the beneficial organisms, which gives them a much higher level of protection during the product’s shelf life.
BIO-tract is the only delivery system for time-release probiotics that provides the highest level of delivery and stability. If you’re using vegetable capsules, you could be wasting your money.
Probiotic supplements are now more important than ever, particularly with so many of us suffering from various digestive and immune disorders. It makes sense to spend your money on a time-release probiotic that will actually work.
When we formulated our Balance ONE Probiotic, we used BIO-tract technology to create our time-release probiotic tablets. It also contains 15 billion CFUs of bacteria and 12 carefully chosen strains, as well as being shelf-stable.
If your digestive health or immunity could use a helping hand, give it a try!