You’ve probably heard of probiotics and how they’re tremendously beneficial for your gut health. But have you ever heard of soil-based organisms?
While you might be getting flashbacks to high school biology, don’t worry - this isn’t some “mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell” science. Instead, soil-based organisms could be the next addition to your arsenal of health products.
In this article, we’ll be going over what soil-based organisms actually are, why you should include them into your health regimen, and how they stack up against traditional probiotics.
Without further ado, let’s get to it!
What Are Soil-Based Organisms?
Surprisingly enough, soil-based organisms (SBOs) are probiotics. It is a newer classification of gut bacteria, which has been discovered due to newfound research on the human GI tract.
Soil-based probiotics are able to “seed” bacteria within the digestive tract.  This will help create a balanced microbiome in your GI tract, sprouting new kinds of bacteria, which is what probiotics are all about. With these new strains of bacteria, your immune system, digestion, and other things affected by your internal microbiome will be enhanced.
However, soil-based organisms are really good for the soil where plants grow. This doesn’t necessarily mean it can help out our human bodies in the same way. But, once we or livestock consume these plants that include these SBOs, we get some indirect exposure to them. So, by taking soil-based probiotics as a supplement, you could be preparing your gut for the wonderful plants you’ll be eating in the future.
In fact, SBOs were a pretty common part of our diet back in the day.  Sadly, with urbanization and processed foods, we don’t ingest as many soil-based organisms as beforehand. SBOs can aid with your overall immune system, activating antibodies that are our main defenders from sickness and other dangers.
SBOs have a few distinct characteristics. For one, the structure of these probiotics are resistant to the tough environment of where they’re going, namely the upper digestive tract and stomach. For another, they are incredibly stable due to the structure, meaning it doesn’t require any added preservatives or special coatings for them to reach the gut effectively. With SBOs, they have a shell that protects the probiotic spore from external harm. It gets all the way down into the intestines; then - with a warm, moist environment - germination occurs and, like a seed, the SBOs release the probiotics for the micro-biome to enjoy.
Soil-Based Organisms vs. Traditional Probiotics
There are some obvious differences between SBOs and the regular probiotics you can find in any supplement store or yogurt.
First, traditional probiotics aren’t created specifically for the soil in which plants grow. Normal probiotic supplements are made for the human body, giving us the bacteria our digestive tracts are more accustomed to. Both are important, because you should always replenish your regular gut bacteria while at the same time improving your microbiome’s variety.
Next, traditional probiotics don’t provide the same types of probiotics that SBOs do. (Duh.) While regular probiotics help our immune system and digestion, it doesn’t provide the level of security and protection that come from SBOs; soil-based organisms naturally consume bad bacteria, as well as work to provide a safe environment for new, good bacteria to grow.
So, it can be said that SBOs pave the way for traditional probiotics to be effective once they reach the GI tract. Soil-based probiotics flush out the bad and craft a platform for good bacteria. Traditional probiotics replenish the good bacteria and keep your gut healthy. (Then you add in prebiotics to feed the good bacteria currently residing in your gut...but that’s another topic for another time…)
Why Should You Take SBOs?
As you can see from the above section, soil-based probiotics are like the fumigators of your digestive tract. They clear out all the bad, while scrubbing down the gut in preparation for new, beneficial bacteria. So, taking a soil-based probiotic supplement might be the key to optimizing your entire probiotic gut health regimen.
Not only that, they are naturally tough to break down until they reach the GI tract, they sprout various new strains of bacteria into your gut, and they aid in strengthening your immune system by triggering heavy-hitting antibodies.
Despite these amazing advantages, there are some instances where SBOs shouldn’t be taken. If you don’t have a healthy gut biome - which you can detect from simply checking out your diet and how much pain and discomfort you get from your digestive system - then it isn’t smart to bombard your system with foreign bacteria. Your gut isn’t properly colonized to support such a probiotic. Plus, if you don’t have enough good non-SBO bacteria, then SBOs can easily take over and wreak havoc on your GI tract.
Even though SBOs can sometimes compete rather than complement our current gut flora, if you do in fact have a solid microbiome, it wouldn’t hurt to further strengthen that environment with soil-based probiotics. As long as you are careful and in-tune with how your body feels and reacts to an SBO supplement, it’s worth testing out.
The Bottom Line
Soil-based organisms aren’t necessarily for us - they’re for the plants that we eventually eat. Nevertheless, SBO probiotics are beneficial in adding an extra layer of protection for our digestive and immune systems.
These kinds of probiotics help dissolve the bad bacteria that could be living in your gut, while simultaneously laying the groundwork for a better micro-biome. This is why it’s worth your while to try a supplement form of SBOs.
Just make sure you stay alert and listen to your body once you begin supplementation. If you start to get adverse effects - upset stomach, indigestion, irregular bowel movements - that means your gut environment isn’t ready for SBOs and you should switch to a traditional probiotic routine. This will aid in building up that good bacteria that your body is used to first. Only then could you add SBOs back in, to make your gut a healthy, humming machine.
Do your own digging and see if soil-based organisms are right for you!
Gut Health Probiotics
- “What Are Soil-Based Probiotics?” Enviromedica, www.enviromedica.com/what-are-soil-based-probiotics.
- Hayes, Julie. “The Problem With Soil Based Organisms (SBOs) As Probiotics.” Hyperbiotics, www.hyperbiotics.com/blogs/recent-articles/15994079-the-problem-with-soil-based-organisms-sbos-as-probiotics.