Probiotics have taken the health world by storm, and for a good reason. The army of bacteria residing in your gut wields immense influence over your overall well-being. You're probably already familiar with the merits of prebiotics, probiotic supplements, and fermented delicacies, but you might be missing out on a lesser-known ally – soil-based organisms (SBOs).
No, you don't have to literally munch on soil, but you should acquaint yourself with the benefits of SBOs, which are probiotics (live bacteria) and prebiotics (the substances that nourish these bacteria) originating from the earth. SBOs have been integral components of the human gut microbiome throughout history.
These spore-forming bacteria play a role in seeding the digestive tract with beneficial bacteria, nurturing a healthy microbiome. In an era before gleaming supermarket produce, individuals grew and consumed their own crops, often with a healthy coating of dirt. People weren't as obsessed with cleanliness as we tend to be today.
In fact, something known as "the hygiene hypothesis" suggests that the surge in various chronic conditions such as asthma, allergies, and weakened immunity is partly due to our hyper-sanitized world. Our aversion to dirt means we're not ingesting as much of it as our ancestors did.
The Clinical Study
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, a specific SBO was tested against irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The study aimed to identify the primary symptoms experienced by individuals with IBS, which typically include:
- General illness and nausea.
- Flatulence and indigestion.
- Colitis – inflammation of the colon, characterized by abdominal pain, diarrhea, and other unpleasant symptoms.
Researchers recruited 25 individuals suffering from the discomfort of IBS and divided them into two groups. One group received 500 mg of an SBO twice daily, while the other group received a placebo.
The group supplemented with SBOs experienced a significant reduction in all three main IBS symptoms within a few weeks. This outcome is undeniably impressive, even with a relatively small sample size. It was compelling enough for the researchers to endorse the use of SBOs as a beneficial intervention.
While some individuals worry that these organisms might turn pathogenic, no research supports such concerns. Remember, in an imbalanced environment, any strain, even the beneficial ones like lactobacillus, can become pathogenic. The key is balance.
Initial side effects may include a temporary increase in bloating and digestive discomfort, known as a "Herxheimer reaction." This is a typical response when you're restoring balance to your gut flora. Persevere, as these symptoms dissipate quickly, leaving you feeling better than ever.
To maintain a harmonious microbiome, incorporate small servings of fermented foods into your daily diet, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, or apple cider vinegar. There's no need to go overboard, but it's essential to embrace SBOs alongside the other beneficial strains from fermented sources for a well-rounded gut.