Have you ever been completely captivated by a spy novel? You know, the kind that keeps you on the edge of your seat?
If so, you may have been introduced to a character called a “sleeper agent.”
This character is usually a spy, purposefully placed in a country or an organization, with a particular mission that only begins once he/she is activated. It is almost as though they are “asleep” until the precise moment they are needed as an asset – at which point they move into action and kick butt.
Bacillus coagulans, a type of good bacteria, acts very much like a sleeper agent. It too is placed in a foreign land – your gut – via a probiotic capsule. Its mission is to fight the bad bacteria that threaten to offset the balance in your digestive tract. It enters your gut in a dormant or sleep state until the environment is just right for it to come awake and well, you guessed it… kick butt.
Here are 5 reasons this “sleeper agent” could be considered a superbug for your health.
1) It survives harsh environments
The journey to your gut is wrought with danger – at least for bacteria. Heat, pressure, and acid are all real threats that are present during manufacturing, on the store shelf, and in your stomach.
Overall, most bacteria could be described as fragile. This is not good in regards to taking a probiotic because the idea is to place live bacteria in the gut where they can do their job. Unfortunately, it can be quite common for probiotic bacteria to be dead on arrival.
This is not the case with our superbug, Bacillus coagulans (B. coagulans). This hardy little guy has a type of natural “body armor” that keeps it safe. It also has an ability to put itself in a dormant or sleep state until it reaches an environment that is less hostile – in this case your GI tract – where it can come back to life, proliferate and fight the bad bacteria.
In fact, studies show that a particular strain of B. Coagulans called Lactospore was found to be stable in the gut even when added to food.(1) This superbug appears to have super powers.
2) Helps with gut issues
pain, diarrhea, bloating, vomiting, and stool frequency.(2)
This is good news since gut issues affect 60 – 70 million Americans and continue to be difficult to treat. As we age, our digestive system can slow down and we end up resigning ourselves to just having a sensitive gut.
3) Lactic acid + boosts digestion
Lactic Acid in our gut, like digestive enzymes, helps to break down food. B. coagulans, our superbug, actually produces a super form of lactic acid called L + optical isomer. This form has been found to normalize the gastric juices in our gut, balance the pH in our stomach, and is more powerful at breaking down our foods than the normal lactic acid.
It just makes sense, especially if we are over 40, to add this bacteria to our diet – especially in light of the fact that digestive enzymes decrease as we age.
4) Fights infections
Once this “sleeper agent” revives itself in the intestines, it begins the serious work of colonizing the gut. The more B. coagulans that are present, the less chance that the pathogenic or bad bacteria can survive. This is for two reasons:
- Competitive exclusion.(3) There are limited nutrients available for the bacteria to survive. Our superbug happens to be really good at reproducing, so it drastically reduces the amount of food available for the bad guys, and so they die off.
- Increase of acidity due to presence of the lactic acid L + Isomer. The special lactic acid that Lactospore B. coagulans produces makes it more difficult for the pathogenic bacteria to survive.
What does all this mean for you? It simply translates to a more enhanced immune system. Just remember this:
Balanced gut bacteria = enhanced immune function = improved ability to fight infection
5) Reduces Cholesterol
Every now and then, our sleeper agent in the spy novel might surprise us with a skill set that was not expected. For example, they might be a really great artist or know how to speak 7 languages.
B. coagulans is no different in that it also has an unexpected ability – it can reduce cholesterol levels.(4)
Since cardiovascular disease continues to remain the number one cause of death worldwide, it is prudent to pay attention to all the risk factors. Lowering the bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and increasing the good cholesterol (HDL) levels is not a matter of just avoiding fried foods. Genetics can put you at a disadvantage in regards to your numbers.
Why wouldn’t you want to give yourself a “leg-up” in regards to your cardiovascular health by including probiotics in your routine?
A Good Argument for Probiotics
It’s not difficult to see that our overall health is greatly affected by the state of our gut. In fact, science is now discovering a strong correlation between our brain’s daily activities and what goes on in our stomach and intestines.
This connection is important enough that the National Institute of Mental Health invested a million dollars in 2014 to research just how much our gut flora influences our brain.
The good and bad guys in the digestive tract play a significant role in many other systems throughout our body, including:
- Nutrient absorption
- Vitamin production
- Utilization of carbohydrates and fats
Providing your body with superbugs is a logical and simple step to proactively fight for good health.
How to Choose the Right Probiotic for Your Health
Not all probiotics are created equal. If you are going to go to the trouble of adding them to your normal routine than it makes sense to choose a quality product that is right for you. Here are 5 things to look for.
1) The powerful effects are in the strain
When a bacteria is named, it generally has 3 parts: genus, species, strain. Often times it is in that order. With our superbug it is slightly different. The genus is bacillus, the species is coagulans and the strain is lactospore and usually it appears like this: Lactospore Bacillus Coagulan.
Most of the benefits mentioned earlier are associated with the Lactospore strain.
Be sure to look at the “Supplement Facts” on the probiotic you are considering to see that Lactospore Bacillus coagulans is listed.
2) Clinical strength of probiotic cells
Probiotic strength is measured by the number of live cells included in a dose. These numbers come from the clinical trials done to determine safety and effectiveness.
In the case of Lactospore B. coagulans, 360 million cells are considered clinical strength.
Once again this information can be found on the “Supplement Facts” portion of the label.
3) Consider shelf-life
Since live cells make up a probiotic, we need to consider shelf-life. A trusted supplement manufacturer will make sure that enough cells are included to account for those that will die off over time.(5)
As mentioned earlier, the Lactospore strain will put itself in a sleep state that protects it over time, so it’s less likely to die off over time and more likely to exert its beneficial effect on your gut.
4) Acid-resistant capsule
Here again, we are not as concerned for our hearty superbug, Lactospore B. coagulans, since it survives the harsh acidic environment in the stomach due to its “body armor.” But we are looking out for all the other probiotics being delivered. An acid-resistant capsule will help to protect all of them in the harsh environment of the stomach.
5) Individually wrapped and stored correctly
Wrapping a probiotic in a double aluminum blister pack protects it from light, oxygen and moisture. Probiotics that are sold without individual packing are more likely to be dead on arrival.
Always store your probiotic in a dry, cool location. Some require refrigeration but that is not always necessary if they are packaged correctly.
Let’s think back to our sleeper agent. To succeed, the exceptional agent must gather information and then take action.
With all of the health information that gets thrown our way daily, it would be easy to either skip the step of researching and gathering accurate info or become overwhelmed and not take action. In both of these cases, we fail our mission of achieving optimal health.
Be your own best agent! Learn ways to optimize your health. Take action today with that knowledge.
Leave us a comment about your experience with probiotics or what action step you plan to take to improve your health today.
Steve Sisskind, M.D.
Hi, I'm Dr. Steve Sisskind, Chief Medical Officer & Founder at RealDose Nutrition.
As a young physician, I struggled because my patients came to me with serious health issues, but I didn't have the right tools to help them. Medical school taught me how to put "band aids" on their symptoms with drugs and surgery, but not how to address the root causes of their problems.
Years later I discovered a better approach... based on the fundamental idea that the power of nutrition can transform your health and vitality. But there's a lot of confusion... What foods should I eat? Which supplements should I take? What does the science say?
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References:1) Majeed, Muhammed and Majeed, Shaheen and Nagabhushanam, Kalyanam and Natarajan, Sankaran and Sivakumar, Arumugam and Ali, Furqan (2016) Evaluation of the stability of Bacillus coagulans MTCC 5856 during processing and storage of functional foods. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ijfs.13044/full
2) Majeed, Muhammed and Nagabhushanam, Kalyanam and Natarajan, Sankaran and Sivakumar, Arumugam and Ali, Furqan and Pande, Anurag and Majeed, Shaheen and Karri, Suresh Kumar (2016) Bacillus coagulans MTCC 5856 supplementation in the management of diarrhea predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome: a double blind randomized placebo controlled pilot clinical study. Retrieved from https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12937-016-0140-6
3) Majeed, Muhammed and Kamarei, Reza (2012) Bacillus coagulans: Probiotic of choice. Retrieved from http://www.sabinsa.com/newsroom/articles/bacillus-coagulans-probiotic-of-choice-nutracos-march-april-2012.pdf
4) Kumar, Manoj and Nagpal, Ravinder and Kumar, Rajesh and Hemalatha, R and Verma, Vinod and Kumar, Ashok and Chakraborty, Chaitali and Singh, Birbal and Marotta, Francesco and Jain, Shalin and Yaday, Hariom (2012) Cholesterol-Lowering Probiotics as Potential Biotherapeutics for Metabolic Diseases. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3352670/
5) Sabinsa Corporation. Lactospore Retrieved from http://www.lactospore.com/about-lactospore/stability