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By Chris Sovey, DPT, PT, RN,BSN
Probiotics are a hot topic (and market) right now, and rightfully so. Healthcare practitioners are finally starting to realize the endless potential of restoring gut flora balance and proper ecology of the digestive system. I’ve written extensively on the subject of gut health and its effects on immunity and auto-immune disorders. So lets assume we’ve both arrived at the conclusion that probiotics are a beneficial addition to our lifestyle…. So you might ask yourself:
What is the best probiotic?
I wholeheartedly believe that the best probiotic is one you make yourself. This can be achieved through a variety of methods, but anaerobic lacto-fermentation is by far the most potent, cost-effective method available. Please see my previous post or video on how to make your own homemade probiotics.
If I had to choose a brand, I would recommend GutPro. It is by far the cleanest. It features bio-compatible strains without any fillers, the dosage goes a long ways, and it is supported by the GAPS diet and other healing protocols.
Why should I make my own probiotic?
There are a variety of reasons to produce your own probiotics. The most obvious answer is cost. There is an enormous mark-up in price for quality probiotic supplements. In addition, homemade probiotics also include nutrients extracted from the fermented-plant. These components are known as phyto-nutrients, and are still poorly understood. However, it has been highly suggested in the literature that carrot juices (especially fermented), along with sauerkraut, contain a variety of health-promoting characteristics. In addition, there are enzymes contained within the probiotic juice used to break down the plant in the fermentation process. This will aid in the digestion of your probiotic.
What characteristics should I look for when choosing a probiotic?
The most important characteristic of probiotics is the number and variety of live strains. The strains should contain a variety of bio-compatible organisms, particularly of the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species. Some common examples include:
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Lactobacillus gasseri
- Lactobacillus salivarius
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
- Bifidobacterium infantis
- Bifidobacterium longum
- Bifidobacterium breve
- Bifidobacterium lactis
Depending on your own personal needs, the dosage and number of live organisms will matter. Also consider whether or not the probiotic requires refrigeration. I know that several brands will claim their products are shelf-stable, but I have yet to see a un-refrigerated product that holds up to high-quality medical needs of a healing lifestyle.
Another question to investigate is whether or not the product contains any “filler” ingredients, such as maltodextrin, silicon dioxide, etc. Depending on how compromised your gut is, these ingredients may be contradictory to a healing lifestyle. They often also suggest an inferior product produced for the masses.
How many organisms per serving should my probiotic contain?
The field of gut ecology is still in its infancy stages, so an optimal dosage for various health conditions has yet to be established. I’ve yet to find a source that lays out proper dosages. My recommendation is to start slow, and go low. Work with your healthcare practitioner. In my personal experience, I personally require a minimum of 100 billion colony forming units (CFUs) / day. This is MUCH more than most probiotics on the market, which is why I make my own. If examined under a microscope, a small drop of properly made lacto-fermented vegetable probiotic may contain hundreds of billions of micro-organisms.
This will entirely depend on your personal goals and current status of health. I highly recommend following the instructions of the manufacturer. If you are consuming fermented carrot juice as per my video, I suggest 2 oz daily for adults. I’m not sure on a kid dosage, and I wouldn’t recommend it to infants.
What is the best temperature to make your own probiotics using lacto-fermentation?
64-72 degrees Fahrenheit is the optimal temperature to promote the growth of anaerobic lactobacillus species. Higher or lower will stunt the growth of lacto-bacillus bacteria or promote unwanted species growth, respectively.
How long should I ferment my probiotics for?
I recommend a period of at LEAST 3-4 weeks. 4 weeks is the optimal minimal time to ferment your own probiotics. This allows the bacteria to complete their entire life cycle, yielding the highest bacteria density per volume. Probiotics can ferment indefinitely without consequence in most cases.
Can I use mason jars to make my own probiotics?
I do not recommend using mason jars to fermentation because it does not provide a complete seal. For the best proboitics, a complete anaerobic environment should be used. This can be obtained from fido jars, Pickl-it jars, or less desirably, a Harsch Crock. My reasons for a fido / Pickl-it jar over a crock are outlined in the video at the top of the page
Where can I find resources on how much salt to use when making probiotics.
Information on how to make the most appropriate salt brine for each individual vegetable / fruit can be found here.
Where can I obtain anaerobic, air-tight vessels to make the best probiotics possible?
Can I use tap water to make my own probiotics?
I do not recommend using tap water for fermentation purposes unless fluoride / chlorine is removed via distillation or reverse osmosis first. High-quality well or spring water is the best choice.
For more information about probiotics, please subscribe to our e-mail list or You-Tube channel. Additional questions are answered in the video above.