Probiotics – Let Them Eat Dirt

By Dr. Jeannie Thomason

let-them-eat-dirtWhat are Probiotics you ask?

Probiotic literally means “for life,” or supporting life. Probiotics are microorganisms that are the essential “friendly” flora or “good” bacteria–that maintain the ecosystem in our pets (and our own) gut, or intestinal tract.

The role of the intestinal tract in nutrient absorption is well recognized by everyone. However, the microflora that naturally inhabit the intestinal tract and their vital role in maintaining normal functioning of the gut and immune system are often overlooked. The intestinal tract is often the ‘first line of defense’ for the body and must be in good order for the animal to maintain a healthy immune response. The intestinal tract houses 80% of the overall immune system.

There are two types of bacteria, which colonize our bodies, good and harmful bacteria. Good bacteria, most of which are Lactic Acid bacteria ensure good health. They normally inhabit the intestines and are critical in maintaining the correct balance of our intestinal microflora. However, to achieve this they must be present in optimal numbers, types and ratio (85% beneficial to 15% non-beneficial). The good should outnumber the bad and in a healthy body or intestinal tract it is the good bacteria that keeps the number of bad bacteria from multiplying beyond what is needed to be healthy.

Beneficial microflora include the lactic acid bacteria (e.g., lactobacilli, bifidobacteria and enterococcus). These microflora produce short chain fatty acids that modulate the gut pH and provide a source of fuel for the cells lining the gut. This, in turn, strengthens the intestinal cells and helps enhance nutrient absorption. Microflora also produce digestive enzymes and synthesize vitamins. One of the most important roles of lactic acid bacteria is to stimulate the immune response in the gut. These microflora can directly block attachment of potential pathogens to the intestinal wall. They are also known to modulate the intestinal environment to inhibit the growth of potential pathogens and produce immune stimulating factors. Animals born into a sterile environment where they do not establish a healthy microflora balance have a weak immune system and fail to thrive.” G.L. Czarnecki-Maulden and J. Benyacoub

Probiotics can be broadly classified into 4 areas: Metabolic, Nutritive, Protective and Anti-Microbial.

Good bacteria or probiotics are your pet’s (and your own)first line of defense against the all the potentially harmful microorganisms that your pet or yourself inhale or ingest. Think of them as a mighty bacterial army that defends the body against dangerous invaders. Having sufficient numbers of these friendly microorganisms in residence will help prevent a wide range of health problems.

You have heard the statement often that the gut or intestinal bacteria is out of balance, but what does it really mean? The answer lies in the vital role that intestinal tract flora plays in over all health.

Probiotics are absolutely necessary to aid the body to:

  1. Manufacture B group vitamins, biotin and folic acid.
  2. Reduce blood cholesterol levels.
  3. Produce natural antibiotics, which can protect against harmful bacteria such as salmonella, E.Coli and shigella.
  4. Regulate and stimulate many aspects of the immune system.
  5. Improve lactose intolerance.
  6. Display significant anti-oxidant activity.
  7. Inhibit the growth of some yeast (eg. Candida Albicans).
  8. Detoxify harmful chemicals and carcinogens from the body via the intestinal system.
  9. Increase energy levels.
  10. Regulate and increase hormone levels.
  11. Remove toxins ingested through foods (eg. Pesticides and Herbicides).
  12. Absorb nutrients, antioxidants and iron from your diet.
  13. Removal of toxins as waste products of digestion.
  14. Reduce food intolerance (eg. Lactose and Gluten).
  15. Reduce inflammation.
  16. Digestion of food.

The Royal Society of Medicine of Great Britain reported that 90% of chronic diseases are caused from an unhealthy intestinal system primarily the colon.

Research has shown that there is a connection between imbalance in the intestines and the following dis-eases: Arthritis, Candida/Thrush, Yeast infections, Asthma, Food Allergies, Psoriasis, Eczema, Acne, Irritable Bowel, Celiac Disease, Indigestion, Constipation, Lupus, and possibly to some auto immune disorders due to a weak immune System.

Compare the concept of pro-biotics with anti-biotic drugs, which are designed to be “against life.” Because antibiotics destroy “good bacteria/probiotics” along with the “bad” bacteria (the pathogenic bacteria), it is good practice to add probiotics to our pet’s diet. If at any point in our pet’s lives we have resorted to conventional antibiotics to treat an infection or had them vaccinated or even de-wormed then their intestinal flora will be out of balance and most likely overrun with “bad” microorganisms.

In reality, there are quite a few things can affect the intestinal bacterial balance in a pet’s gut:

  • stress
  • poor diet
  • prescription drugs
  • pollutants
  • treated water
  • environmental changes
  • chemical fertilizers
  • pesticides
  • soil sterilizers in agriculture (which damage the soil ecosystem and the natural flow of bacteria found in the food chain).

This destruction of the good bacteria allows harmful bacteria to multiply and produce large amounts of toxins and carcinogenic agents. These toxins inhibit the normal function of the digestive system and increase the demands placed on the liver and kidneys. Consequently, this speeds up the aging process and leads to various diseases and digestion problems.

So, If we wish our pets (and ourselves)to maintain a healthy immune system, we need to avoid antibiotics,chemical exposure and things known to destroy the probiotics/friendly bacteria in the intestines as much as possible. We need support and maintain large quantities of friendly bacteria. This is easily done by supplementing with probiotics.

Probiotic Supplementation

Live bacteria supplementation; as opposed to freeze-dried or dairy preparation (yogurt, etc.) tend to have a much greater effect on the re-colonization and re-balancing of the gut microflora. Recent studies show the need for soil based organisms (SBO) – especially for our pets.

Soil Based Organisms

When you see your pet eating grass and or digging and eating dirt – they are attempting to get Soil Based Organisms into their body. Some thirty years ago, laboratory research scientists began investigating why animals eat dirt and grass. It was only when they examined organic soils and grasses that they found them to be teaming with microflora and bacteria that were protecting and nourishing the grasses and plants. These same microflora and bacteria proved to have a profound probiotic effect in the intestinal tract.

Appropriately, these microorganisms were collectively named Soil Based Organisms (SBOs).
Totally unlike today’s chemically treated soils and grasses, organic soil is teeming with soil-based organisms (SBOs) that live right around the grass roots. These (SBOs) are what your pet is after when you see them pulling at the grass and eating dirt!

Let Them Eat Dirt

Dirt and its SBOs have always been a natural part of our animal’s flora. When wild or feral dogs, wolves, (even horses and birds) eat from the ground they are naturally getting soil based organisms on whatever they are eating on the ground. And of course they have constant access to wild grown (organic), pesticide free dirt and grass in the wild when ever they want or need it.

Most GI disorders develop as a result of bad bacteria overwhelming the good (probiotic) bacteria, the first course of action should be to restore the balance by administering SBOs. SBOs are scientifically proven to resolve GI disorders and are essential to maintain intestinal balance.

It seems like the simple solution would be to let your dog and/or cat eat grass and dirt. However, most of our domestic animals live in environments that do not provide these essential digestive aids. Lawns, and dog parks are treated with inorganic pesticides, fertilizers, and chlorine from municipal water. These chemicals kill the SBOs. Many horses are kept in stalls and only allowed very little grass grazing if any. Compare this to wild horses that graze constantly grasses grown on naturally clean dirt.

SBO probiotics best and work fastest

Unlike dairy and most plant based probiotics that take months to build up the beneficial bacteria/flora in the gut, just a few doses of SBOs will quickly dispatch most cases of minor GI upsets often before you could ever have your pet seen by a veterinarian.

grass-eat-dirtMilk is for infant animals

Despite what the dairy industry has led us to believe, common sense and science tells us that milk is not healthy for mature humans, dogs, cats, horses or rabbits to consume. In fact, the regular eating (or drinking)of dairy products can lead to many serious dis-eases.

Most probiotics are cultured or grown on or in dairy products. Cow or goat milk is simply not something a mature animal in the wild would ever have access to. God designed soil based organisms to nourish and protect the immune system of plants and animals alike – they are the perfect probiotic.

If our pets are to maintain a healthy immune system, it goes without say that they need large quantities of friendly bacteria. Begin with a raw, species specific diet and supplement the diet with SBO probiotic to give your pet the health that he most certainly deserves.

Dr. Jeannie and The Whole Dog use and suggest the SBO probiotic – Pet Flora by Vitality Science

Scientific Studies

1. Bittner, A.C., Croffut, R.M. & Stranahan, M.C. (2005) … Probiotic-Prebiotic Treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Randomized, placebo-Controlled, Double-blind Clinical Study. Clinical Therapeutics, 27(6):755-761. 2. Smith, C. Open Label Clinical Study … for Diverse Chronic Conditions of the GI Tract (Report CS-01-05). Ft. Benton, MT: Safer Medical, Inc. 3. Gibbons, J.D. (1988). Sign Tests. In: Encyclopedia of Statistical Sciences, Vol 8:471-475. New York, NY: Wiley & Sons.

Alvah C. Bittner, Ph.D., CPE is a Research Team Leader with Bittner & Associates, Kent WA & Professor, affiliated with Department of Environmental Health, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Jeff M. Smith is Owner, Rocky Mountain Retrievers, Missoula, MT & President, North American Hunting Retriever Association, Fredericksburg, VA

Group, E.F. (Unknown). Probiotic Bacteria and Your Health. Natural Health and Organic Living. Global Healing Center.

“Research from California has concluded that a deficiency of medicinal ‘superbugs’ – known as Soil Based Organisms (SBO) – from our soil and food chain may be responsible”(1) for intestinal illnesses and diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, colitis, candidiasis, and colon cancer. Therefore, including SBOs in one’s diet, either in supplement form or from foods such as cultured yogurt, cottage cheese, whey, and buttermilk. “Chronic fatigue, frequent diarrhea, intestinal gas, frequent constipation, poor immune response, bladder infections, chronic vaginal infections, candida, allergies, skin fungus, dairy product sensitivities, menstrual complaints or chronic bad breath are all indicators of a possible imbalance”(2), and soil probiotics such as SBOs may help provide the healthy balance the body needs.

The Journal of Nutrition – Nutritional Immunology – Supplementation of Food with Enterococcus faecium (SF68) Stimulates Immune Functions in Young Dogs Jalil Benyacoub, Gail L. Czarnecki-Maulden,* Christoph Cavadini, The´ re` se Sauthier, Rachel E. Anderson,* Eduardo J. Schiffrin and Thierry von der Weid –