Do probiotics survive digestion?

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Do probiotics survive digestion?

Stomach acid is basically designed to break down proteins, both for digestion and to prevent harmful bacteria from entering the system. It is pretty harsh stuff, and certainly does kill a lot of bacteria both friendly and harmful.


Some probiotics definitely make it to our intestines alive.

Here’s the proof:

1. A number of studies have looked at the survival rates of various strains of bacteria, and found that certain strains are definitely likely to survive stomach acid. From my quick look at the research, L.gasseri, L. acidophilus and B. bifidum all seem to survive, especially if in a dairy culture.

2. There’s a lot of research showing the benefits of eating probiotic foods, suggesting that they must be effective at changing our microbiome.

3. If you’ve ever had a strong reaction to a new probiotic food, then you are probably well aware of the fact the probiotics definitely do make it through our digestive system.

It’s not just about our guts.

Our microbiome isn’t just in our digestive system, it’s on our skin, in our lungs and really makes up most of who we are. Eating probiotic rich foods helps our whole microbiome to be healthy and vital. Culturing food in our homes actually changes the microbiome of our homes and those around us.

Some cool related research findings.

Our microbiome is influenced by the microbiome of those around us. In fact close knit communities (or tribes) have their own unique microbiome.  And if a member from one tribe joins another tribe with a different microbiome, their microbiome changes to match those living around them.

What we eat also greatly affects our microbiome. For example someone on a paleo diet will have a fairly different microbiome from someone on a vegan diet. And making a change to your diet will rapidly affect your microbiome, indicating the importance of maintaining a healthy diet to encourage a healthy microbiome.

So is a probiotic rich diet worth the effort involved in fermenting?  I certainly think so!

2 thoughts on “Do probiotics survive digestion?

  1. Did you see Sandor Katz when he was in town last year? He said a couple of things that blew my mind:

    The current thinking, he said, goes like this: Probiotics do not by themselves do much. After all, you are introducing a few million or billion bacteria into an environments with TRILLIONS of bacteria—a drop in the ocean.

    But, it turns out bacteria can discard and pick up DNA to suit their needs at the time. So probiotics may serve as a sort of toolkit, providing a source of novel or needed DNA to the gut biome etc.

    • Interesting… I hadn’t heard that, nor read it. And I did do some research for this blog. 🙂 I definitely know that our bodies aren’t as straight forward as everyone would like them to be! Thanks for sharing.

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