4 Things That Can Kill Your Probiotics
Probiotic bacteria are living, single-celled life forms. To be effective, they need to safely reach an environment where they’ll thrive. In most cases, this is the small or large intestine. But from the time probiotics are cultured in a lab, they’re vulnerable to being killed off. The friendly bacteria of your favorite probiotic can easily die under any one of these four conditions.
1. During the Manufacturing Process
No two manufacturers process their probiotics the same way, but some common manufacturing methods may harm the probiotics if care is not taken. High pressure processes and high speed centrifuging can crush or break the cell walls open of bacterial cells, thus killing them.
2. While Being Transported Between Factory and Store
Temperature control is important to keep probiotics viable. Not all trucks, cargo containers, or train cars are climate controlled. Under certain conditions, the temperature inside a truck’s cargo area can easily reach 125 degrees or higher. Delicate probiotics can die in high temperatures like these.
3. Stored in a Warehouse, Store, or Home
While temperatures are more likely to be controlled in these locations, humidity may not be. And humidity can be a problem, because any moisture at all can activate the probiotic. If probiotic cells become active in the package, without the right surrounding environment and without prebiotics to feed on, they will die.
4. During Digestion
The stomach has a pH level of about 2, which is highly acid. This is too acidic for many probiotic strains, and they may not survive in this harsh environment. If they’re going to reach the small or large intestine, where they’re meant to go, they need to be protected.
Given the right conditions, probiotics will thrive. But given the wrong conditions, they won’t. Some manufacturing processes will damage or destroy bacterial cell walls. High temperature or high acid environments can kill off bacteria. Too much moisture can activate the bacterial cultures prematurely, when they’re in an environment they can’t survive. Next time, we’ll look at how some manufacturers have solved these problems so that you get the full measure of live cultures that you’re paying for.