Leaky Gut Syndrome and Lactospore
Leaky Gut Syndrome and Lactospore
Bacillus spores occur naturally in the environment and have been (inadvertently) consumed by humans as long as we have been around. These spores exist in a form that easily survives digestion in humans (and animals), this being due to their “bi-phasic” life cycle. Which means that, like many spores, Bacillus species can move easily from their dormant form to an active form, depending on what the environment is like. They are so good at this that scientists were able to reactivate and grow a unit of 250 million year old Bacillus species, which had been discovered inside salt crystals found in Carlsbad, New Mexico. (Source)
Spores, such as Bacillus, when dormant, are surrounded with an endospore, a hardy outer shell that protects it from acid, heat, light, pressure, and lack of oxygen. In fact, living spores have been found at every level of Earth’s atmosphere, and can survive in the vacuum of space. Thus, some believe that spores can even arrive from outer space, and activate here on Earth. (Source)
This strong shell that spores possess is the main reason that, when used for probiotic purposes, they can easily survive the digestive process (without the need for enteric-coated capsules). Probiotic spores can even survive baking, at temperatures up to 450 degrees F. The high stability of Bacillus species, resistant to gastric fluid, heat, and moisture, is why they are becoming more commonly used in the nutrition field, both as supplements and in foods.
“The commercial Bacillus probiotic strains in use are B. cereus, B. clausii, B. coagulans, B. licheniformis, B. polyfermenticus, B. pumilus, and B. subtilis. These strains have antimicrobial, anticancer, antioxidant, and vitamin production properties.” (Source)
Leaky Gut Syndrome, characterized by increased intestinal permeability, has become widespread, and, by triggering low-grade systemic inflammation, is the underlying cause of many ailments. Leaky gut is the result of disrupted junctions between colonocytes (epithelial cells of the colon), leading to small holes in the protective intestinal wall. This allows toxins to pass through the intestinal wall and gain access to the bloodstream, where they cause inflammation and wreak havoc in the body.
Modern culprits in the formation of leaky gut include candida yeast overgrowth, antibiotic overuse, and the presence of glyphosates (“RoundUp”) in most of our foods (especially GMO foods). As well, chronic absence of primary nutrients can reduce the ability of the intestinal wall to repair itself. (Those primary nutrients are vitamins A and D, and iodine, as covered in this newsletter.)
When our microbiome is healthy, our beneficial bacteria work, in part, to maintain the mucous lining of the intestine, as well as protecting the lining from allergens, pathogenic bacteria, and toxins (chemicals and heavy metals). According to Brian McFarlin, a professor in the University of North Texas Departments of Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation, “The current efforts to use over-the-counter probiotics, typically Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, to improve gut health don’t give us consistent results”. (See this newsletter for more on that subject.) Therefore, McFarlin’s research focuses on health issues that may be helped by spore-based probiotics.
How Do They Test for Leaky Gut?
According to Professor McFarlin, as many as 30% of those living in the Western world may be affected by dietary “endotoxemia”: an elevated level of endotoxins in the blood after eating a high-fat meal. (“Although the term “endotoxin” is occasionally used to refer to any cell-associated bacterial toxin, in bacteriology it is properly reserved to refer to the lipopolysaccharide complex associated with the outer membrane of Gram-negative pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella…” Source)
Those suffering from chronic dietary endotoxemia are also found to suffer from a variety of health conditions including appetite disorders, autoimmune ailments, cardiovascular disease, chronic constipation, chronic pain, cognitive decline, depression, mood disorders, and type 2 diabetes.
In 2017, McFarlin published a study (in the “World Journal of Gastrointestinal Pathophysiology”), in which he measured the endotoxin concentration in the blood of 25 healthy subjects, following a high-calorie, high-fat meal. Those subjects whose levels of endotoxins increased by five times or more, five hours after the high-fat meal, he categorized as “responders”. Responders were determined to be people who have sufficient disruption of the gut lining to allow above average levels of endotoxins to migrate from the intestine into the bloodstream. McFarlin then took his group of responders and gave half of them a placebo, and the others a formulation made up of a variety of Bacillus spores, for a duration of 30 days. During this time the subjects did not alter their diets or lifestyle habits.
Participants who received the spore mixture showed a 42% reduction in the amount of endotoxins in their blood, along with a 24% reduction in triglycerides and improved hunger/satiety signals. All of which led McFarlin and his researchers to conclude that spore-based probiotics can improve the gut microbiome, and serve to heal leaky gut syndrome. (Study)
Now, this study used a mix of five different Bacillus spores (B. indicus, B. subtilis, B. coagulans, and B. licheniformis, and B. clausii). But, since our Lactospore product is based on only one of these (B. coagulans), I wanted to find out if we could rely on it alone to also help to heal leaky gut. So, I went to PubMed and found a study which used the heavy metal lead to induce a permeable gut in mice.
From the study: “Probiotics are regarded as a good tool to remove lead ions in the intestine and maintain gut health conditions, but previous studies failed to elucidate the relationship among probiotics, the host and the gut microbiota. In the present study, B. coagulans was employed as the “lead removal tool” in lead-exposed mouse, and the effects of B. coagulans on intestinal cells, the microbiota and faecal microRNAs were tested.”
The results indicated that B. coagulans “helped keep cells in a normal proliferation ratio and reduce the reactive oxygen species (free radical damage) and apoptosis ratios under lead exposure conditions.” (“Apoptosis maintains the balance of cells in the human body and is particularly important in the immune system. It also eliminates pre-cancerous and virus-infected cells.” Source). Our study concluded that: “B. coagulans has the potential to be developed and considered as the probiotic that protects the host gut against villi damage and gut microbiota structure and function disorders during lead exposure.” (Study)
While the above study used lead to induce damage to the gut lining and villi, with the corresponding increase in free radical damage, all heavy metals and toxins do their damage in much the same way. If spore-based probiotics, like B. coagulans, can reverse this damage done by lead, so can they reverse similar damage done by the whole range of modern toxic substances. These broad benefits of B. coagulans, including protecting the gut, supporting a healthy microbiome, reducing free radical damage, and keeping apoptosis ratios normal, are of benefit to all of us, and one reason why I take Lactospore on a semi-regular basis, even if my digestive system appears to be functioning well.