Yes, really. If they are alive!
By definition, probiotics are alive, beneficial bacteria and they must be administered alive to be effective. The methods of shipping, storage and freight therefore are crucial to make sure that you get the most ‘bugs for your buck’.
We usually think of bacteria as 'germs' or something that makes us sick. But our bodies are full of bacteria, both good and bad - more than 500 strains in fact! Probiotics are the good or beneficial bacteria that keep us healthy in a myriad of ways. Most people are familiar with the knowledge that probiotics support our digestion and keep our gut healthy, but did you know that they also strengthen immunity, prevent allergies, reduce inflammation, and even support our brain function? However, many probiotics are temperature sensitive and if they are not shipped or stored in the proper conditions, by the time that we consume them these wonderful strains of good bacteria will be of no use unless they are still alive.
There are so many strains of these good bacteria, all with different functions and benefits. For the purpose of this article here, these good bacteria can be roughly divided into two groups: the first one are those that linger after being eaten; they take up residence, reproduce and 'colonize' in our gastrointestinal tract (GIT). Here they do useful things like by protecting the GIT lining, helping digestion and supporting immunity. These are the bacteria hardest hit by antibiotics and this is why it is so important to replenish your GIT during or after a course of antibiotics. The other main group of good bacteria is 'transients'. They don't stick around. They create by-products that help the colonizing populations to thrive, and also support the everyday work of probiotics. These 'transient' good bacteria are one of the main reasons why most naturopaths highly recommend that we should take probiotics daily. We need to continuously replenish these good bacteria and keep their levels sufficiently high.
Two good examples of beneficial transient bacteria are Lactobacillus bugaricus and Streptococcus thermophillus. Lactobacillus bugaricus produces large amounts of lactase, which helps us break down lactose. This is especially helpful for those who are lactose sensitive as well as supporting people who enjoy eating dairy products. Streptococcus thermophillus produces the natural antioxidant SOD (superoxide dismutase) that combats free radicals generated by pollution, stress and chemicals.
Our most popular probiotic, Ultrabiotic 45 contains both of these strains Interestingly, Ultrabiotic 45 has been clinically trialed and has been shown to decrease fatigue time and increase heat tolerance in elite athletes'. For sporty people, living in the humid (and polluted) city of Hong Kong, this probiotic would be especially beneficial (This product is only available at our clinics through practitioner recommendations, but will be available in our Online Dispensary soon)!
Another highly practitioner recommended probiotic, which has similar benefits is the Ther-Biotic® Complete Capsule.
Currently research is being carried out all over the world on which probiotic strains most benefit certain conditions. For example, Lactobacillus rhamnosus (GG) is the world’s most studied strain and has been shown to have an effect on respiratory issues2 and childhood eczema3. LAB4 is a well-researched group of probiotics, which includes Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains that have been shown to improve the life quality of those with irregular bowel disturbances4. All of the bacteria in these studies were alive.
All IMI probiotics have been airfreighted directly to us in Hong Kong under refrigeration. They are stored in a government-approved temperature and humidity controlled environment, and then kept refrigerated in IMI dispensary before being shipped out to you with cool gel for temperature control, to ensure optimal quality. All this effort is made to make sure that you can say with confidence: ‘My probiotics are alive!’
1. Shing CM, Peake JM, Lim CL, Briskey D, Walsh NP, Fortes MB, Ahuja l(D, Vitetta L. Effects of probiotics supplementation on gastrointestinal permeability, inflammation and exercise performance in the heat. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2014 Jan;ll4(1):93-103.