Probiotics are micro-organisms, or live bacteria, that are believed to have a positive impact on your health when consumed. The World Health Organization‘s 2001 definition of probiotics is “live micro-organisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health beneﬁt on the host”.
There are hundreds of probiotic supplements on the market and to be honest the research into whether any of these supplements actually work is limited. However, if you look at any probiotic products on amazon.co.uk or amazon.com you can read plenty of reviews with anecdotal accounts of various products having benefitted people.
For example, Amazon’s number 1 best seller in Probiotic Nutritional Supplements, Bio Kult, has 428 five star reviews.
According to Karl Seddon, the founder of a new high-strength probiotic product called Elixa, conventional probiotics have failed to fulfill their potential effectiveness for several reasons:
- Miniscule Daily Doses. The human gut contains 100 trillion A single capsule or yoghurt drink containing 10 billion bacteria is outmatched 1:10,000. That’s a drop in a bucket!
- Insufficient protection. Bacteria are tiny, delicate organisms. They must be grown, freeze-dried, encapsulated, and packaged, all with extreme care. Most supplements fail in one or more of these areas.
- Ineffective species of bacteria. Countless probiotic supplements contain bacteria and yeasts that are not adapted to reside in the human gut. Cheap bacteria borrowed from the dairy industry is commonplace.
- Almost all other probiotic supplements recommend taking the product continuously for months on end. This is an impractical and costly treatment strategy.
Hyper-biotics – high-strength probiotics
Elixa is one of a new ‘breed’ of probiotic supplements that aim to deliver very high doses of probiotic bacteria. Elixa delivers 50 times the dose of the average probiotic – half a trillion CFUs, versus the conventional average probiotic only containing 10 billion CFUs.
Why is that dose superior?
As you’ve already learned, the average probiotic is outmatched by a ratio of 1 :10,000 when compared to the total number of microorganisms residing in our gut. That’s a drop in the ocean! If you want more than a drop – Elixa is your answer. With a strength of half a trillion CFUs (that’s 500 Billion!), this is an entire probiotic army.
Below we compare some of the best high-strength probiotic supplements on the market:
How do probiotics work?
Most probiotic companies claim that their products can “colonise the gut”. As probiotics are viable microorganisms they SHOULD be able to survive in the gut for prolonged periods of time and colonise the gut, but research shows that many probiotic strains are not detectable in the stool 1-4 weeks after consumption is ceased.
For example, McNulty and colleagues recently evaluated a fermented milk product with probiotic strains matching the commercially available Activia (Dannon, White Plains, New York). The investigators showed that the probiotic product did not change the gut’s overall bacterial composition, but instead altered gene expression patterns relevant to carbohydrate metabolism in the host’s resident gut microbes.
The changes noted by the researchers were transient and only confined to the time the probiotics were being consumed. The research concluded that if continued benefit from the consumption of probiotics was desired then continued use of the probiotics would be required.
Essentially, in order to see the most sustained benefits from many probiotics, it is advised that you consume them regularly and for a prolonged period of time. Stopping taking probiotic supplements will likely result in the changes and benefits experienced, dissipating.
Karl Seddon has another theory on how high dose probiotics work:
“Lactic acid bacteria will benefit the large intestinal microbiome in several specific manners but also at least one ‘broad-spectrum’ manner: by the mechanism of lowering the pH in the large intestine.
Now….what happens is this: if you look up optimal proliferation rates for several lactic acid bacteria, you will see that there is a huge spike in their proliferation and acidification once their environment reaches about pH 5-5.5. This takes time to achieve.
The lactic acid bacteria lower the pH (mainly via lactic acid production). Proliferation is slow until the pH hits around 5.5. At which point they have essentially created their own optimal environment, like some kind of terraforming human colony on Mars suddenly having created the right atmosphere and their numbers can boom.
While Elixa does not contain the 100s of species that would comprise the ultimate probiotic, it does however contain species which create an acidic environment. This will favour the majority of beneficial bacteria, whereas the non-beneficial tend to not thrive as well at the similarly low pHs.”
This is why Elixa only needs to be taken for a short period of time since it should allow beneficial bacteria to quickly proliferate, while simultaneously creating an unfavourable environment for pathogenic strains. This should go some way to correcting a dysbiosis in the gut, even if the bacteria in the probiotic do not actually colonise the gut.
Elixa is a new high-strength, short-course probiotic, which you take for 6 or 12 days. The short-course approach delivers potent amounts of beneficial probiotic bacteria to your gut each day for the duration of the program.
Elixa was developed by Oxford University graduate Karl Seddon. According to Karl “I got interested in probiotics after my research (on my own IBS condition) lead me to a heap of scientific journal articles about gut microbiota.
I realised that this area is not pseudo-science and yet there was still something greatly lacking in the effectiveness of all probiotics that I tried. It was actually fairly obvious where they lacked but the technical solution to that ‘obvious’ problem was very tricky.
I still think that a lot of supplement manufacturers simply use the term probiotic based on its popularity/demand rather than their own sincere belief in the effectiveness (or potential effectiveness) of probiotics.”
Karl developed Elixa to overcome some of the problems with other probiotics on the market, i.e. low dosage, containing only one or two strains of bacteria, and encapsulation issues meaning with some brands the bacteria do not survive the acidic environment of the stomach to actually reach the intestine.
How is Elixa different?
- Elixa delivers 50x more beneficial bacteria per dose compared to the average probiotic supplement – 3 trillion CFU’s per course! This is the highest strength formulation on the market.
- Powerful blend takes effect in just 3 days
- Made possible with the new standard in encapsulation technology; Fortress 5 (developed by Karl after completing his studies in Biomedical Engineering in Oxford in 2011). This is absolutely crucial to the effectiveness of Elixa. Without the bacteria making it intact, all the way from the culturing facility to your large intestine, a supplement would be useless.
- Contains 9 species: Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Lactobacillus Plantarum, Lactobacillus Reuteri, Lactobacillus Rhamnosus, Lactobacillus Casei, Bifidobacterium Bifidum, Bifidobacterium Lactis, Bifidobacterium Longum, and Bifidobacterium Breve.
What can upset the balance of our gut bacteria?
- What we eat
- The medicines we take
- The stress we experience
These factors can all decrease numbers of good bacteria in your gut. A combination of antibiotics, processed food and a modern stressful lifestyle can wreak havoc on your intestinal flora.
An unhealthy gut can result in:
- Digestive disorders such as IBS, IBD, Ulcerative Colitis, constipation, chronic diarrhoea, bloating, flatulence and abdominal discomfort
- Skin disorders such as rosacea, acne, seborrhoea, dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema
- Depression, anxiety, lethargy and low motivation
You take Elixa once a day for 6 days (or you can double up and take two 6-day courses back to back if you have severe gut-bacteria imbalances). It should be taken first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
It’s critical to take probiotics with filtered or bottled water; otherwise you’ll defeat their purpose. Chemicals such as chlorine are added to tap water to kill bad bacteria, but these will kill probiotic bacteria as well. After taking the dose you do not need to wait before eating your meal as usual.
The beneficial bacteria will get to work within 3 days of you beginning your Elixa program. They will do this in three stages:
- First they will enter your large intestine and find a suitable space to inhabit.
- Next they will begin to grow in numbers and occupy more and more space on your gut wall.
- Thirdly, they will start to produce beneficial substances for your gut and reduce numbers of bad bacteria by creating natural chemicals toxic to these pathogens.
Other Probiotics worth Considering
As already mentioned, there is limited research showing whether individual brands of probiotics actually have beneficial effects. There are a few brands that do have some scientific research behind them and these include the following:
- Symprove is a water-based multi-strain supplement with an Unique Delivery System (UDS™) that contains 4 unique strains of live activated bacteria. These include: L. rhamnosus, E. faecium, L. acidophilus, and L. plantarum. Research has shown that at least in vitro, Symprove survives the acidic stomach conditions better than 7 other popular probiotic supplements. According to their website “Independent research by University College London (UCL) shows Symprove can Arrive, Survive and Thrive in targeted areas of your gut quickly and effectively.”
- Optibac – this company produce a large range of probiotic supplements with links to research backing up the effectiveness of their products – read more here: http://www.optibacprobiotics.co.uk/scientific-research
- Prescript Assist – soil based organisms. According to their website, Prescript Assist is “Supported by a peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled human clinical trial – including a one-year follow-up study, verifying long term efficacy”
- Equilibrium by General Biotics – 115 interdependent strains
A few other Probiotics to consider
- Bacillus coagulans – I like Inner Me’s probiotic which contains 15 billion CFU’s of B. coagulans per capsule plus psyllium husk to act as a prebiotic. Thorne also produce a B. coagulans probiotic which contains 2 billion CFU’s per capsule.
- Saccharomyces boulardii is a type of beneficial yeast that may help fight candida overgrowth
- An interesting product I have recently learnt about is PrePhage a proprietary prebiotic formulation combining four types of bacteriophages, which are benevolent viruses that exclusively infect bacteria. Highly specific bacteriophages may be classified as prebiotics since they are able to enhance the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.
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Hello, I’m Chloe. I’m a nutrition and health coach and I’m on a mission to inspire & support women so they can go from feeling fatigued to feeling fabulous!
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