In This Article
LifeSpa’s Microbiome Study
Do you think traveling to Europe increases microbial diversity?
Some of you may remember a series of articles I wrote last summer called Eat, Pray, Bugs. These articles were background research for a study we conducted here at LifeSpa, a small pilot study to see if the American microbiome would gain microbial diversity (which we Americans greatly lack) and new permanent residents when exposed to European foods and colonizing probiotics for two to four weeks.
Colonizing probiotics are those few strains that have been found to adhere to the intestinal lining and become permanent residents. Most probiotics are transient in nature, which means that while they are still beneficial, they pass through the gut, requiring long-term supplementation. My goal with all supplements is to get on them if needed, get better, and then get off or use them long-term to support seasonal deficiencies or underlying physiological weak links.
We measured the microbiome of ten American adults two weeks before and after a two- to four-week European trip. To add a twist, I wanted to see if LifeSpa’s Flora Restore MAX, a colonizing probiotic, would boost microbiome diversity and maintain that diversity for three weeks after the trip, which would suggest proliferation of new microbial residents.
Colonizing Probiotics: Do They Make it Past the Stomach?
There is little science suggesting probiotic supplements actually make permanent changes to the microbiome. Thus, to get the benefits, you must continue taking them. I was interested in confirming science that suggests microbe strains in LifeSpa’s Flora Restore, Flora Restore MAX, and Gut Revival are actually colonizing (not transient) probiotics.1
To accomplish this, half the group took a colonizing probiotic (Flora Restore MAX) during their trip, and the other half did not take a probiotic during their trip.
The genus lactobacillus, found in Flora Restore MAX, a colonizing probiotic, increased in 100% (four out of four people) of those taking the probiotic. These findings poke all sorts of holes in the rumors that probiotics don’t make it past the stomach and are destroyed by stomach acid.
We recommend "Anti-Aging: Short Term Probiotics for Long Term Benefits": https://lifespa.com/bifidobacteria-fountain-youth/
Does Being in Europe Improve the Microbiome?
The first question in our study—whether living and eating in Europe would increase microbial diversity—had an interesting result. Across the board, everyone who visited Europe saw an influx in new microbes, on average 116 new genera of bacteria.
At first glance, you might think this is a huge influx in microbiome diversity, but diversity would be gaining more new microbes than you lost.
The actual results were: 60% of the probiotic group saw an increase in diversity, whereas 33% of the non-probiotic group saw an increase in diversity.
This is very interesting because it indicates that traveling to Europe on its own did not much increase microbial diversity; instead you mostly swap old microbes for new European microbes. However, these results also imply taking colonizing probiotics might create a more suitable environment for microbial diversity, so the combination of probiotics and a new environment is the key.
Nature did have a plan for this as our ancestors migrated and ate a changing and diverse diet seasonally. A Stanford University study recently tested the microbiomes of the last remaining hunter-gatherer tribe, the Hadza, and found their microbiome would dramatically shift with each season.9
Our Microbiome Results
- 3 out of 5 (60%) in the probiotic group experienced increased microbial diversity
- 1 out of 3 (33%) increased microbial diversity in the non-probiotic group
We recommend "Not All 'Grass Fed' is Equal: The Secret Source of Ayurvedic Ghee": https://lifespa.com/ayurvedic-lifestyle/mindful-eating/grass-fed-ghee/
European Probiotic Conclusion
Traveling to Europe exposes you to a huge host of new microbes, but you also lose microbes when transitioning to such a different environment. It seems taking colonizing probiotics helps you maintain more microbes, rather than simply having new microbes push old microbes out the door.
Ninety-nine percent of probiotics on the market are transient, rather than colonizing, meaning that while they do offer health benefits, they do not contribute to a new stable of permanent and beneficial bacteria. One hundred percent of the participants who were not previously taking the probiotic saw an increase in lactobacillus (four out of four).
Back in the early 1980s, when I first got into practice, it become very clear to me that the use of digestive enzymes, probiotics, herbal laxatives, and others offered temporary relief and often a dependency on those pills and powders. Back then, all probiotics were transient and in my clinical experience, required lifelong supplementation. For decades, I would tell all the supplement vendors who would solicited us that if you can show me a study where the probiotics adhere to the intestinal wall and become permanent, I’m in!
Finally, I was given a study where certain strains do I fact adhere to the gut wall and they are now the probiotics in our Flora Restore Max, Flora Restore, and Gut Revival.
This in-house pilot study was to test and confirm that these probiotics are actually doing what the published studies found—and they did.
The Probiotic Science10
LifeSpa’ colonizing probiotics have many mechanisms that benefit health, including but not limited to:
- supporting metabolic activity3
- supporting production of short-chain fatty acids and vitamins
- increasing nutrient absorption
- boosting digestion of lactose4
- adhering to intestinal epithelial cells to help maintain a healthy balance of organisms in the intestinal tract5
- helping to establish populations of good bacteria after disruption in balance6
- supporting immune function7
- promoting intestinal epithelial cell survival8
- supporting healthy bowel function9
- degrading oxalates3-9
Perhaps the most compelling evidence in these studies was the ability for these probiotics to not only adhere to the intestinal wall, but to actually support increased proliferation of other new and more diverse gut microbes. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human dietary intervention study in elderly subjects (>60 yrs), supplementary B. lactis HN019 resulted in statistically significant increases in the beneficial organisms bifidobacteria and lactobacilli.
To read all the studies of the LifeSpa line of colonizing probiotics, click here.
We’d like to very much thank Research and Testing Laboratory for providing all the test kits for the microbiome samples and facilitating the Microbial Diversity Analysis. We couldn’t have put this together without them!
11 thoughts on “Dr. John’s Probiotic Study: Colonizing Vs Transient”
After reading your probiotics study results, I have 2 questions. Are the microbe strains in LifeSpa’s Flora Restore, Flora Restore MAX, and Gut Revival all colonizing vs. transient probiotics? How do you determine which one of those is best suited to someone’s needs? Thank you! I have a full family to start on probiotics. Thanks for your useful videos and newsletters. I always find them interesting and practical.
The colonizing strain is Bifidobacterium lactis HN019. It is in Flora Restore (15 billion CFU), Flora Restore MAX (50 billion CFU) and Gut Revival (15 billion CFU). Generally folks start with Slippery Elm Prebiotic Tea (https://lifespa.com/tea-psychic-bugs-slippery-elm-prebiotic-tea-formula/) or Gut Revival (https://lifespa.com/gut-revival-back/) and then move on to the Flora Restore products. You can find the details on this protocol here: https://lifespa.com/from-prebiotic-to-probiotic-4-steps-healthy-microbiome/
I hope that helps!
I’m wondering if in this study resident bacteria were measured at least 2 weeks after stopping the probiotics? Can’t seem to find that info in the video or article. Even the other studies on HN019, which I’ve been online looking at for a few hours, seem to be written soo vaguely! Even in this study http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17315077, it says the results were taken *after the dietary intervention and doesn’t necessarily say after the 2 week washout period.
I’ve wasted my life savings and family’s death pension money on thousands and thousands of probiotics that were supposed to be colonizing (Sbo’s etc) over the years with no improvement after the 2 week washout…I’ve been ruined financially with false claims… and just really wish I could see a clear study on what took place after 2 weeks. Thanks for reading 🙂 I just bought $250 worth of your products… all 3 probiotic levels along with slipperly elm prebiotic, beet cleanse, and warm digest to get started… I’m just scared out of sorts I’m going deeper in the hole, without the studies.
Love to you guys!
Any updates? What was your experience? I agree that studies are very vague and ultimately do not say much.
Is there such a thing as enough being enough of good bacteria? Can one over do good bacteria? If the answer is “yes”, how would one know if they are reaching that threshold?
A major benefit of taking a colonizing probiotic would be not having to take it forever. Has your testing determined how long a person would need to take a colonizing probiotic before the gut would have enough healthy bacteria to sustain improved immune health? As much as I love your products, they are expensive, I don’t know how long I would need to continue taking them.
The necessary dosage and length of time taking probiotics varies depending on your body, your environment, diet, etc. This study showed results from one month of taking probiotics in 60% of participants. We’ve seen excellent results with the 4 step probiotic protocol which takes about 4 months. https://lifespa.com/from-prebiotic-to-probiotic-4-steps-healthy-microbiome/
Some things you can eat to boost the effects of probiotics and help the good bugs out: raw fruits and vegetables, plant roots (dandelion, burdock, and tons more), psyllium and slippery elm and flaxseed and other “gooey” fibrous things (but not too much!), complex foods (“plainer tasting” things that don’t deliver spikes of energy – like sattvic foods including basmati rice, mung bean, lentils, etc), and natural ferments, especially dairy-based and vegetable-based ones. Of course, cut the dairy out if your body doesn’t do well with it. All-star pre-pro-biotics on my list are root vegetables and root medicines (wash gently or not at all), Mt. Capra’s goat mineral whey and goat milk protein (there may be other brands, but I’ve never tried them), and in some cases healing clays (bentonite, zeolite, etc – don’t overdo, small amounts are great for supplying a variety of beneficial soil organisms, but very large amounts suck’m out of the system).
I bet JD’s probiotics are pretty good stuff! But just make sure to follow the prebiotic advice and try to eat balanced, or the therapy will struggle to produce effects!
Where is your study published? Please provide PMID. Thanks!
I have purchased the probiotics you speak of but I am not clear when I should be taking them so that they are most effective? i.e., morning or later in day and most importantly, with or without food? I have read that without food there is a higher chance of stomach acid affecting the probiotic results. Please comment and thanks!
Really, without details of the process, this has to be considered marketing rubbish. Like for example how he tested their microbial diversity. And especially *when* he tested it. If he tested it as soon as they came home, yes you would expect to see big differences, because transient bacteria will remain in the gut for a week or two. The true test would be if they are still there after 1-3 months.
The very fact that they picked up a lot of bacteria in a three week trip to Europe is a clear indication of how transient bacteria are.