“Do you suffer from sugar cravings, inexplicable fatigue or bloating, anxiety or a “brain fog”? Fortunately, ProBio5 provides a solution to many of today's “mystery” symptoms.” Those are some of the words used to describe the Plexus Slim ProBio5, a healthy gut, probiotic supplement. Interestingly weight loss is not specifically mentioned in this list, although I wanted to review this supplement after some people told me of Ambassadors who were recommending ProBio5 to those who were not losing weight with Plexus Slim (the drink). Also, on the Plexus Slim website, Probio5 is actually listed in the “weight loss” category of products. This also got me curious about its role in weight loss. Does ProBio5 help weight loss and/ or does it help Plexus Slim work better? If it does, the research will tell us this. Let's see what we can discover…
According to the Plexus website, ProBio 5 is supposed to provide these benefits:
- Helps keep intestinal yeast in balance
- Helps support a healthy intestinal tract
- Supports healthy digestion
- Helps improve natural response to imbalance
- Promotes healthy bacteria counts and pH levels in the gut
What Does The Name Mean?
My guess is the “pro” refers to probiotic. The Bio5 in the name refers to the 5 different types of probiotic bacteria in the supplement.
The name “ProBio” gives a hint that this is a probiotic supplement. The “5” in the name tells us that there are 5 different types of probiotic bacteria in the product. Interestingly, there is more in the product than just probiotics. According to the label I have, 1 capsule contains the following ingredients:
|Proprietary blend (200 mg)||% DV NV|
|Chitosinase (from bacillus Sp )|
|Probiotic Blend (100 mg)||NA|
|Vitamin C 150 mg||250 %|
|Grape Seed Extract 25 mg||N/A|
|Vitamin B6 25 mg||50%|
N/A = no daily value established
Other ingredients listed on the label include gelatin, water yeast and brown rice powder.
Note. There is a new ingredients list. See below for a comparison.
Updated ProBio 5 Label
Since this review was created the Nutrition Facts Label of Probio5 has changed. Here is the label as it appears now side-by-side with the original Nutrition Facts labeling:
|ProBio 5 New Nutrition Facts (1 capsule)||ProBio 5 Original Nutrition Facts (1 capsule)|
|Vitamin C 150mg (250%DV)||Proprietary blend (200 mg) consisting of the following:|
|Vitamin B6 2.5mg (125 % DV)||Protease|
|Proprietary Enzyme Blend (200 mg) consisting of the following:||Peptizyme|
|Chitosanase (from Bacillus coagulans)||Chitosinase (from bacillus sp )|
|Cellulase||Probiotic Blend (100 mg) consisting of the following:|
|Seropeptase (as Peptizyme SP)||Lactobacillus|
|Probiotic Blend 100 mg consisting of the following:||Lactobacillus Acidophillus|
|Bacillus coagulans||Bacillus Sporogenes|
|Lactobacillus acidophilus||Bacillus Longum|
|Bifidobacterium longum||S. Boulardi|
|Lactobacillus plantarum||Antioxidant Blend consisting of the following:|
|Saccharomyces boulardii||Vitamin C 150 mg (250% DV)|
|Grape seed extract 25 mg||Grape Seed Extract 25 mg|
|Vitamin B6 25 mg (50% DV)|
As can be seen, some ingredients have remained the same, some have changed and also how some of the ingredients are listed have changed. Note, further below I list another table that compares Probio 5 ingredients. This table is the CURRENT ingredients list. It supersedes the table you see below.
I'll leave up the old table below for those who are doing their own research.
Since the original “pink drink” formula (AKA Plexus Slim. Click this link for my review of plexus slim) had boasted an unpublished study that's been used to substantiate its effectiveness, I wondered if there might be some sort of evidence to support ProBio5? If there is research, I didn’t see any studies about it on the PlexusWorldWide.com
website. Likewise, when I searched the National Library of Medicine for:
No relevant studies showed up.
In addition, when I searched Google for “Probio5 research” no relevant information showed up either. This says to me that ProBio5 ―itself ―probably has no published, peer reviewed proof that it helps people lose weight or alters bacteria flora.
That said, the idea that certain types of bacteria might help people lose weight (or gain weight) is not without some evidence. Intriguing research appears to show that:
- Overweight mice have different bacteria than skinny mice.
- Bacteria from overweight people transferred to skinny mice, makes mice gain weight.
- Bacteria from skinny people transferred to skinny mice, kept mice skinny.
- Bacteria from skinny mice might be less able to breakdown food than bacteria from overweight mice.
- Baby mice, given low doses of antibiotics, have a greater chance of being overweight.
For more info about these types of experiments, see these reviews:
- The microbes in your gut may be making you fat or keeping you thin (WashingtonPost.com)
- How Gut Bacteria Help Make Us Fat and Thin (ScientificAmerican.com)
Just as intriguing is this 2014 study titled Exercise and associated dietary extremes impact on gut microbial diversity which noted that people who exercised intensely (Rugby players) had more of a particular type of bacteria that may play a role in weight loss. These people also had reduced cellular inflammation as well.
For more on this study, see these articles:
- Exercise and the ‘Good’ Bugs in Our Gut (New York Times)
Results such as these, might be the reason for the idea that probiotic supplements can help people lose weight.
But, since I'm not able to find any research on ProBio5 itself, I want to see if there has been any weight loss research on the 5 types of bacteria in the product. If there is, then this might lend evidence to whether it works or not.
Let's do that now.
Proprietary Enzyme Blend
According to the label, there are 4 different types of enzymes in the proprietary enzyme. They are:
This is a protein-digesting enzyme. The prefix “pro” refers to protein and, as a rule, science words that end in “ase” is an enzyme. We need proteases to help us digest proteins.
This is a trademarked name for Serratia Peptidase, another protein-digesting enzyme.
This is an enzyme that breaks down cellulose, a compound that makes up the cell walls of not only microorganism but also of fruits and vegetables. Humans don’t naturally make the cellulase enzyme. As my 12th grade biology teacher once said, many years ago, if we made cellulase, we could digest paper since cellulose is in that too!
This is an enzyme that digests chitin, another type of carbohydrate. In addition to being part of some microorganisms, chitin also forms the outside skeleton of insects and crustaceans.
Ironically, some weight loss supplements contain chitin , such as a product called Chitosan.
Why Are Enzymes In ProBio5?
According to the Plexus Slim website, they say they did this because fungi and yeast are composed protein, chitin and cellulose. The enzymes, they say, help break down these microorganisms, which in turn help friendly, pro-biotic bacteria flourish.
On the surface, this might make some sense. But, I must ask where's the proof? While I could be wrong, I'm not aware of any evidence that that these 4 enzymes, in the concentration provided in the product (100 mg) reduce yeast or fungal growth – or help people lose weight.
In the bacteria/ weight loss studies I've seen, none of them used enzymes. Rather, researchers just transferred bacteria from one mouse to another or from people to mice.
Also ― and I think this is something worth further discussion ―how do we know that these enzymes only break down the fungi and yeast?
In other words, if they really worked, what's to stop them from digesting the “good” bacteria or other proteins and carbs ―and as a result, cause us absorb their calories?
I bring this up for a reason.
In this 2010 article from Newsweek, titled How Intestinal Bacteria May Make You Fat, its stated that overweight people may have bacteria that work too well―in other words, they are better at digesting food (and thus, absorbing calories) than the bacteria in skinnier people.
If this turns out to be true, would adding enzymes that digest protein and carbs, cause people to breakdown― and absorb― more calories? Would this cause people to gain weight?
I have no idea.
I mention this not to scare anybody but only to give people something to think about. Remember, the weight loss research ― so far that I'm aware of ― does not appear to incorporate protein and carb digesting enzymes.
As such, I don’t think they are needed.
For what it's worth, I personally, I think the enzymes in Probios5 would be destroyed by the acidity of the stomach soon after they are taken. I don’t think the enzymes would make it to the large intestine, where the good and bad bacteria reside.
Now let's look at the bacteria in Probio5. Specifically, I want to search to see if there is any research linking any of these bacteria types to weight loss. If Probio5 works, I think the answer is held with these bacteria.
Probios 5 now contains both Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus plantarum.
The first thing we need to know is that there are many types of Lactobacillus bacteria. Plexus Slim does not tell us which type is in Probio5. This is important because it makes reviewing it difficult. With that in mind ―and focusing only on human research ― I searched the national library of medicine for:
- Lactobacillus overweight
- Lactobacillus obesity
- Lactobacillus weight loss
I found the following research that may or may not be relevant:
One animal study noted that Lactobacillus acidophilus injected into animals promoted some weight loss.
Another animal study noted that a specific strain of Lactobacillus plantarum (called “K21” strain) helped weight loss.
Plexus doesn't have this bacteria, but a 2014 study titled Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 supplementation on weight loss and maintenance in obese men and women. In this investigation, overweight men and women were followed for 24 weeks (6 months). When combined with a moderate reduction in calories, the women who used a Lactobacillus rhamnosus supplement lost more weight and fat than women who were given a placebo.
Here is Here is Lactobacillus Rhamnosus on Amazon on Amazon.
This is a very interesting study but I don’t know if the same thing would happen with Probio5 because I don’t know if Probio5 contains Lactobacillus rhamnosus or not?
The study also notes that it was only women who lose weight. Men didn’t lose weight.
As was pointed out in this 2014 segment from 60 Minutes, there is a growing consensus that men and women might react differently to some medications. Might this same thing might also be true for supplements?
Focusing on only human studies, I searched the national library of medicine for these terms:
- Lactobacillus acidophillus obesity
- Lactobacillus acidophillus weight loss
- Lactobacillus acidophillus overweight
I saw no human studies linking Lactobacillus acidophillus supplementation to weight loss.
Ironically, in this review of research from 2012 titled Comparative meta-analysis of the effect of Lactobacillus species on weight gain in humans and animals, it was noted that Lactobacillus acidophillus was associated with gaining weight (not weight loss)!
To be fair, in this 2012 study titled Lactobacillus species causing obesity in humans: where is the evidence? the researchers concluded that
“there is no evidence that consumption of lactobacilli or probiotics, in general, would contribute to obesity in humans.”
The lead author of this study is associated with Active Nutrition and Dupont Nutrition and Health, which make probiotic supplements.
I searched the National Library of Medicine for these words:
- Bacillus Sporogenes weight loss
- Bacillus Sporogenes obesity
- Bacillus Sporogenes overweight
No studies showed up for any of these search parameters.
I searched the National Library of Medicine for these words:
- Bacillus Longum weight loss
- Bacillus Longum overweight
- Bacillus Longum obesity
I saw no studies on this bacteria and weight loss.
Also called Saccharomyces Boulardii . Saccharomyces boulardii is a type of yeast.
As I reviewed this ingredient, I discovered that the name “Boulardi” is spelled wrong on the ProBio5 label and on Plexus Slim website. I say this because when I searched online for “S Boulardi” all the search results were for “S Boulardii” (there is an extra “i” in the name). Nobody is perfect and I make spelling errors all the time too. I'm sure the company will eventually fix this.
I searched the National Library of Medicine for these words:
- Saccharomyces Boulardii weight loss
- Saccharomyces Boulardii over weight
- Saccharomyces Boulardii obesity
In a 2014 study titled Saccharomyces boulardii Administration Changes Gut Microbiota and Reduces Hepatic Steatosis, Low-Grade Inflammation, and Fat Mass in Obese and Type 2 Diabetic db/db Mice, S boulardii was associated with weight loss and reduce fat mass in diabetic mice.
I'm could not locate any human studies of Saccharomyces Boulardii and weight loss.
The Antioxidant Blend
This blend consists of the following ingredients:
- Vitamin C
- Grape seed extract
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
I can't think of a logical reason why antioxidants would be needed in a probiotic supplement, except maybe (I'm guessing here…) to help prevent spoilage (and death) of probiotic bacteria? If anyone can help me (am I right or wrong on this), I would welcome the input.
I don’t think most healthy people are deficient in vitamin C or B6 and we are not told what extract of grape seed they are using (if anyone knows, please let me know so I can update this review).
Grape seeds do contain chemicals (nutrients) called anthocyanins. To be sure, these are healthy things to consume, but some websites report that they inhibit the growth of lactobacillus acidophillus ―one of the main probiotics in ProBio5.
If this is the case, then why is it in this supplement? This is of course, assuming that anthocyanins are the extract used in ProBio5. I'll assume they are not using this extract. Again, what is the extract of grape seeds they are using?
ProBio5 New Formula
Before I posted this review, I discovered that there was a new ProBio5 ingredients list on the Plexus website. Below is the old formula (which I listed above) and the new formula side-by-side so you can see the differences.
|Proprietary Blend (200 mg)||Proprietary Blend (200 mg)|
|Chitosanase (from bacillus coagulans)||Peptizyme|
|Peptizyme SP||Chitosainase (from Bacillus)|
|Probiotic Blend (100 mg)||Probiotic Blend (100 mg)|
|L. Acidophilus||Lactobacillus acidophilus|
|B. Longum||Bacillus Longum|
|L. Plantarum||Bacillus Sporogenes|
|S. Boulardi||S. Boulardi|
|Antioxidant Blend||Antioxidant Blend|
|Vitamin C (150 mg)||Vitamin C (150 mg)|
|Vitamin B6 (2.5 mg)||Grape Seed Extract (25 mg)|
|Grape Seed Extract 25 mg||Vitamin B6 (2.5 mg)|
Red color indicates differences between old and new formulas.
Looking at these labels side by side, the following things stand out to me in the new label:
1. Proteases (plural) replaces Protease (singular).
2. Chitoasanase and Peptizyme have switched positions on the new list. Peptizyme is now called Peptizyme SP.
3. Bacillus Coagulans replaces Lactobacillus. The label also indicates that Bacillus Coagulans contributes both lactobacillus sporogenes and bacillus sporogenes to the product. I searched for weight loss studies for both of these bacteria but could not find any.
4. L. Plantarum replaces Bacillus Sporogenes (why?)
5. There is a LOT less Vitamin B6 – down from 25 mg in the old formula to 2.5 mg in the new product.
6. S. Boulardii is still spelled incorrectly on the new label and website.
Does ProBio 5 Promote Healthy Gut Bacteria?
One of the claims for this supplement is that it's supposed to support healthy intestinal tract. Does it? Well, there does not appear to be any clinical evidence on the supplement, so this makes knowing whether it does or doesn't, difficult. Let's say it does. The bigger question though is what is a “healthy gut?” What does that look like?
Most experts believe a healthy gut is one that contains a diversity of bacteria. In other words, the greater the number of different types of bacteria in our intestines, the healthier we tend to be.
Can you promote diversity by only eating 5 different types of bacteria?
I don't know.
How To Naturally Promote A Healthy Gut
Most experts on this topic agree that eating foods that contain fiber is a good way to promote a healthy gut. That's because bacteria love to eat fiber – and the more the better.
How Many Live Bacteria?
According to plexusworldwide.com, at the time the product was made, each capsule contains “2 billion probiotic live cells.”
But, this is when the product was made.
This is important and something to keep in mind when shopping for ANY probiotic supplement.
The amount of live bacteria present when the supplement was made may not always be the same as what is present when you purchase the product.
How many bacteria are in the product after its been sitting on a shelf for 6 months old – or 1 year?
I dont know the answer to this.
ProBio 5 Spit Test
Some people may have heard of a spit test to see if they have high levels of yeast in the body. By spitting in a glass of water, it's said that people have too much yeast if the spit fell to the bottom of the glass, or if it had tendrils hanging below it (like tendrils of a jellyfish).
I've seen the spit test mentioned on several websites including the Dr. Oz website but according to this YouTube video, the spit test ―while quick to do― is not perfect. Several things might make it seem like we have an overgrowth of yeast, when we may not. The best way to know if you have an overgrowth of yeast or fungus is to get tested by your doctor.
Probios 5 Side Effects
As far as I am aware of, ProBio 5 has no major side effects in healthy people. I did not see much showing up when I searched online for “ProBio5 side effects,” so that's good.
What follows are some theoretical side effects that occurred to me or which turned up as I was writing this review. How likely they are to occur, I have no idea.
- Peptizyme (Serrapeptase) might have a blood thinner effect so it might interact with blood thinner medications. This effect is also mentioned on the ProBio5 label.
- Don’t take probiotic supplements if taking antibiotics.
- Women who are pregnant or nursing or who have any medical conditions should speak to their doctor before using. This is also mentioned on the ProBio5 label.
- I think people with high blood pressure should talk to their doctor /pharmacist. There is a little research that vitamin C along with grape seed polyphenols might raise blood pressure. I don’t know if this is relevant or not because the study I've linked to used more vitamin C than is in ProBio5 – as well as 1000 mg of grape polyphenols (that’s a lot). Since the label only says it has “grape seed extract” I don’t know if the product has polyphenols or not? This is only 1 study and I'm not sure of the significance of it, but I thought it was better to mention it just in case.
- People with immune system problems should speak to their doctor or pharmacist before taking any probiotic supplement. Weakened immune systems may not be able to handle additional microorganisms.
Does It Work?
I first heard about ProBio5 from people who told me they were using it for weight loss, when the regular Plexus Slim didn’t seem to be working for them. As such, weight loss was the only thing I attempted to determine in this review. With that in mind and after looking at the research I could locate, I don’t believe ProBio5 will help people lose weight. My reasons for this conclusion are that I could not find any published peer reviewed research on the product itself and I also could not find any human published peer reviewed evidence that any of the ingredients helped weight loss either. I also saw no convincing evidence that ProBio5 helps Plexus Slim (the pink drink) work better either. Does ProBio5 alter the probiotic bacteria in the GI system? I'm not sure. It might or might not; I saw no proof either way.
Here is Plexus Slim Probios 5 on Amazon if you want to see what others are saying about it.
What do you think?