Published September 18, 2023 You’re likely familiar with probiotics and how they support gut health, but did you know that the soil itself has probiotics? These are often referred to as spore-based or soil-based probiotics. Your ancestors likely got their daily dose of spore-based probiotics when they were eating farm-fresh food with minimal washing! In this modern day, we’ve moved away from having as much access to local farms and instead rely on produce that has come a long way. Now, we’re not here telling you to go eat a handful of dirt to get a dose of probiotics. However, you can take spore-forming probiotics in capsule form! Spore-forming probiotics are very resilient with high survivability since they essential remain in a ‘dormant’ state until they hit the small intestine and work their magic. They are also SIBO-safe, which is why we chose a spore-forming strain for our Bloat BFF formula. These probiotic strains are impressively effective for chronic GI issues like bloating and so much more. Let’s get into exactly what spore-based probiotics are and why we chose them for our newest formula. DIRT FOR THE WIN Next time you wash your beets, maybe don’t?? Turns out soil contains free probiotics (yep, you heard that right), known as spore-based or spore-forming bacteria. Back in the day our ancestors used to harvest vegetables in the field and bring them directly to the kitchen, with little to no washing or scrubbing. Fast forward to today where sanitation is king and we find ourselves reaching for the shiniest, most flawless produce on the shelves. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we are ingesting fewer and fewer spore based probiotics as a result of sterilization, peeling and cooking our vegetables, and not drinking from natural springs and wells. You can still find these probiotics in fermented foods and raw vegetables, especially in the natural fermentation of soy, maize and rice. It’s just not as common. Many cultures have their own indigenous fermented delicacies that are rich in spore-forming probiotics, like Natto (fermented soybeans, Japanese), Gari (fermented cassava, African), and Soibum (fermented bamboo shoots, Indian). But if you don’t have access to these (although we highly recommend trying them if you can!) or simply want something easier, spore based probiotic supplements are the way to go. TO SPORE OR NOT TO SPORE Traditional probiotics, or living microorganisms, are just that. Living. Therefore they are relatively sensitive and require a little extra TLC – often in the form of refrigeration. Because of this fragility, they are almost always killed by heat and stomach acid and don’t even make it to the digestive tract. Some common bacterial strains that you’ll see in this category are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, so keep that in mind next time you’re cruising the supplement aisles.In contrast, spore based probiotics typically contain Bacillus strains. These bacteria use the extreme survival strategy of creating endospores to protect them from stress and lack of nutrients. In their cozy, protective shells, Bacillus remain alive yet inactive, or dormant. Yet once the probiotic hits the nutrient rich environment of the gastrointestinal tract, the bacteria will rapidly shed their spores and get busy cleaning our guts. These “human gut commensal” bacteria work their way from the top down, killing pathogens and rebalancing the microbial population along the way. And just before they’re ready to be excreted from the body, they re-sporulate and go dormant again, ready to be returned to the earth, in theory. The beauty of spore based probiotics is that they have a longer transient time in the gut than traditional probiotics, so you get more bang for your buck. While traditional probiotics have a transient time of 4-7 days, spore based probiotics take about 3-4 weeks. And that, my friends, is why consuming spore based probiotics in small doses, and often, will give us that sustained probiotic effect that our ancestors used to get naturally. INCREASED MICROBIOME DIVERSITY Supplementing with spore based Bacillus strains not only boosts the microbial communities in our guts but also helps to diversify these populations. One study showed that Bacillus probiotics increased existing probiotic strains in the gut, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria by creating an acidic environment in the intestines that isn’t hospitable to pathogens (3). It also outcompeted opportunistic pathogens, such as E. coli and antibiotic resistant Enterococci, suggesting that Bacillus probiotics can help us maintain the delicate balance of good vs. bad bugs in our guts. Lastly, Bacillus strains can essentially act as natural antibiotics by producing antimicrobial compounds (like bacteriocin) that can slow down or completely halt pathogenic bacterial growth. Moral of the story – they really keep things in check. BLOAT BE GONE! In a randomized, double-blind clinical trial of healthy adults, supplementation of BS50 Bacillus Subtilis (a spore-based probiotic strain) significantly improved symptoms of bloating, burping and flatulence in patients after 6 weeks of taking it (1). While the mechanism of action is not entirely flushed out at this point, BS50 has been shown to secrete digestive enzymes, aiding in food digestion and resulting in reduced fermentation and gas production in the lower intestine (2). In particular, Bacillus subtilis produces enzymes that help break down complex carbohydrates and proteins – two things known to give us grief in the boating department. Additionally, BS50 and other spore-based probiotics actually increase nutrient concentrations in the gut which has a satiating effect on our brains, thus reducing the urge to overeat and mitigating bloat from simply being too full. BS50 is one of the ingredients in our bloat formula, Bloat BFF, for these reasons! A SIBO-SAFE STRAIN If you have SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), you’ve probably heard mixed messages about taking probiotics. That’s because most standard probiotics can actually make your SIBO worse! Lucky for you, OO fam, we got you. Spore based probiotics are quite successful in treating SIBO and its associated symptoms because they don’t colonize the small intestine nor feed bacteria already living there while they’re making their way down the GI tract. As we know, SIBO is characterized by an abnormally high amount of bacteria living in the small intestine and causes malnutrition, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and bloating. Typically the protocol for SIBO is centered around a gnarly dose of broad spectrum antibiotics which often don’t resolve the SIBO entirely. In one study, patients with SIBO given a probiotic supplement containing spore-forming Bacillus coagulans saw a significant reduction in GI symptoms after three weeks of taking it alongside antibiotics (4). And 93% of these patients tested negative for SIBO via the breath test, compared to the 66% who just took the antibiotic. There’s also a chance that if you received an IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) diagnosis, you might actually be dealing with SIBO. In a double blind clinical trial of patients with IBS, participants reported a significant decrease in IBS symptoms after taking a spore-based probiotic (5). Two birds, one stone. As you can tell, we love to nerd out over spore forming probiotics for gut health, but there’s a litany of other benefits that come with taking them – relieving muscle soreness post-workout, improving cognitive function, modulating our immune response, the list goes on… BS50 IN BLOAT BFF You’ll find a spore-forming probiotic strain called BS50 Bacillus subtillus in Bloat BFF. Alongside this strain, Bloat BFF contains a blend of enzymes and herbs that come together to provide you with comprehensive GI and bloat support. Bloat BFF is also SIBO-safe and suitable for the most sensitive stomachs. The perfect formula to lean on for fast-acting support giving you the freedom to eat what you love without uncomfortable side effects. You can learn more about Bloat BFF here.