First of all, I want you to know that I love me my Kombucha. When I’m on a roadtrip or have a long meeting or simply want something with a yummy grape or ginger taste (my two favorite flavors!), I am the first to beeline to the Kombucha fridge aisle and grab me one.
But. And it’s a big but. Do I/we really need kombucha?
The reason I bring this up is because let’s be real… it’s expensive! We’re talking around $5 all in with tax for one bottle. And if you drink 2-3 a week (or even more perhaps. And what about families/couples?!), we’re talking about a $60 or $120 (or more) monthly habit for an individual or couple. Sheesh! It sure adds up.
So yes, we know kombucha has a great taste. But are you really getting a therapeutic dosage of probiotics and B vitamins, as promoted on the label? Which is a great justifier on spending so much, week in and week out… And henceforth why I titled this blog as such. Is kombucha really worth all that moola?
Well first, let’s take a look at the difference between transitory and resident-forming probiotics, which is essential to our discussion.
I liken transitory bacteria/probiotics to someone who would stay in a motel somewhere, and just head out in the morning. In contrast, resident-forming bacterial/probiotic strains take up residence, like building their own little neighborhood villages and hanging out long-term.
Very different kinds of folk, right?! So as you can see, probiotics are not all created equal, and the super broad term of “probiotics” actually can mean very different things. Let’s take a closer look:
Transient Bacteria Strains
Transient probiotic strains, like the motel visitors passing through, go through your digestive tract and then are evacuated from the body. They can still be helpful, and can fight certain types of bacteria and boost our immune systems.
Think of how a motel visitor comes through and eats dinner out at the local organic plant-based restaurant ☺, and maybe grabs a tea in the morning and pumps some gas. They are for sure contributing to the local economy for the short time that they are there, and are helping it thrive in the time they are there!
So the strains in kombucha, which can include Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophiles and many others – are actually in this category of transient. They are helpful for the time while they are passing through, but they are not resident-forming.
So bang-for-your buck-wise, you can treat kombucha like a yummy treat (which is excellent for transitioning off diet and other sodas!) but as I mentioned, the dollars add up for this habit, so if you’re looking for the actual benefits of probiotics (enhanced digestion, more clear, glowing skin, higher energy, etc.), you’d be better off getting an excellent probiotic supplement.
This is the same for fermented foods, such as Probiotic & Enzyme Salad, aka raw kraut, kimchi, etc. One of the primary strains is Lactobacillus plantarum, which is helpful and survives stomach acid – yet still technically transient.
They are useful and have been part of the Beauty Detox dietary program since the beginning, but on their own, without proper supplementation, you won’t get the maximum benefits and results. It’s because we also need…
Resident Forming Bacteria Strains
Resident bacteria strains, become permanent gut dwellers, and live on the walls of your intestinal tract. There they form a coating that protects against pathogenic aka “bad” bacteria.
Think of the people that form little villages or vibrant neighborhoods within a city. They love it and defend their hood from being overrun with rodents or crime or whatever threatens, by banding together and keeping an eye out and defending when need be.
But even through resident-forming strains are long-term residents, they still need to be consistently replaced, on a regular basis. This is because we live in a polluted world with heavy metals, pesticides, countless contaminants in our air, food, water supply, stress, eating less than ideal food (none of us eats perfectly!) and so the resident-forming bacteria will nearly always need support and replenishment.
The difference is that resident bacteria are not only protective, but last with us long enough to produce B vitamins, key acids and other much needed nutrients. So they fight for us, AND support our bodies nutritionally.
Many products on the market are based on Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus and Bifibacterium, which are resident-forming but are far from the only or even most important resident bacteria, especially when it comes to filling in needed gaps. So what are the most important resident strains? One group I’ve written and spoken extensively about are SBO’s.
Soil-Based Organisms (SBO’s) That Mimic Nature
What I love about SBO’s is that they are amongst the most powerful resident forming group of strains available. The core premise behind them is that they represent what we evolved for millions of years consuming on our food, eating plant matter directly from trees or soil.
Some characteristics which are unique to SBO probiotics include:
• The structure of soil-based organisms is naturally resistant to the harsh environment of the upper digestive tract and stomach.
• Additionally, unlike other probiotics not derived from soil, probiotics containing SBOs are very stable and don’t need any special coatings or preservatives to ensure a clinically relevant amount reaches the appropriate areas of the gut.
Though the best types of SBO probiotics are based directly on symbiotic communities of bacteria found in the natural environment or “soil”, these probiotics are not actually harvested directly from the earth before bottling, but are instead produced in safe, monitored environments which ensure specificity of the strains.
Unlike lactic acid bacteria (e.g., Lactobacillus), the many Bacillus species have their own cycle of spore-proliferation and release in your gut. This activity continues long after the soil-based bacteria are ingested — creating a truly unique symbiotic relationship within your body.
There are a variety of this species in a good probiotic formula, including: Bacillus brevis, Bacillus macerans, Bacillus pumilus, Bacillus polymyxa, Bacillus subtilis… as well as those from the Arthrobacter, Azotobacter, Bacteroides, Brevibacterium, Pseudomonas, and Streptomyces families.
To ‘Buch or Not to ‘Buch! That Is the Question!
As I noted earlier, I’m a huge fan of kombucha and all plant-based fermented foods. I’ve been an avid consumer and recommender of kombucha and cultured veggies since I began as a nutritionist, and that isn’t changing now.
The reason I felt compelled to write this article is because – I used to believe (as many I encounter now do), that kombucha and fermented foods were the equivalent of consuming quality probiotics. I did not understand the difference between transient and resident-forming strains, and why the latter deliver much more therapeutic value. Especially if the goal is not only to rebuild the gut, but eliminate gas, bloating, accelerate weight loss, skin health, energy, all around beauty, nutrient absorption and beyond.
Of course, I’m partial to the probiotic that I created and sell – but I created it with top scientific researchers and leaders in a field who understand this crucial distinction; and have maximized the amount and diversity of critical resident-forming strains in the formula.
Ultimately, if you have the budget to get probiotics, kombucha and raw sauerkraut – go for it. The SBO’s will help maximize the benefits you get from both resident and transient bacteria you ingest.
However, if budget is an issue – and healing your gut, or dealing with something like candida or another debilitating issue is important to you — then remember the math we did above. It doesn’t take many kombuchas or $10 bottles of raw sauerkraut to equal a bottle of high quality probiotics. And the latter will deliver MUCH more healing value to your body.
Now you understand why.
Lots of love,