The stability of probiotic supplements is vital to their
efficacy as they are useless unless they are stable and are able to pass through
the harsh environment of the stomach unharmed. The stability, or life, of a
bacterium can depend on a variety of different factors which include the availability
of water, the availability of food, the temperature of its environment and the
pH of its environment.
As water availability, food and temperature are not a
threat to probiotic supplements, it is important that they are not exposed to
a very low, or very high, pH in order for them to survive. Hydrochloric acid,
which is secreted by the stomach in order to aid protein digestion, has a very
low pH of around 3 (pure water is 7) which would be harmful for the bacteria
contained in probiotic supplements if they are not protected. Such protection
can be achieved by consuming probiotic supplements with, or immediately after,
a large meal.
The meal will act as a buffer (will increase the pH of
the stomach environment to a more tolerable level) against the stomach acid
and therefore allow the safe passage of the bacteria into the intestine where
they can exert their effects. The strains of bacteria found in probiotic capsules
have been inhabiting our digestive system long before these supplements were
even thought about. They have not evolved sufficiently to withstand stomach
acid because they haven't needed to.
Therefore they have been entering our digestive systems
unharmed for thousands of years by being carried on natural and wholesome foods.
Only today's dietary habits of fast foods and refined sugars has depleted the
levels of these bacteria in our gut and exposed a need for supplements. Consuming
these supplements with a glass of milk will have the same effect. The milk will
not only dilute the acid, but the calcium content of the milk will further increase
the pH. Calcium is a natural alkali (the opposite of an acid) and will therefore
counteract any acid present in the stomach. It is only when probiotic supplements
are consumed on an empty stomach that they are rendered useless and this simple
advice will ensure maximum benefits.
Print this page