Bifidobacterium Infantis – Know the Facts
When it comes to probiotics, we all seem to know a thing or two about them from commercials or the internet– although never quite enough. So, when we do come across household names like Bifidobacterium infantis, we might not be that much confident in their contribution to human wellness so as to seek out their supplementation on purpose – much to our disadvantage, of course.
The good news is that probiotics – Bifidobacterium infantis included – can be very easily understood in terms of their role within the organism, positive properties, and possible health restrictions, which then makes it easier for you to decide their place within your own personal lifestyle.
The importance of probiotics
As any specialist will tell you, probiotics are ‘good’ microorganisms that naturally reside throughout the length of the gastrointestinal system, beginning with the mouth, nose, and throat and continuing with the stomach, small intestine, and colon. Probiotics can also be encountered within the mucosal lining of the urinary and vaginal systems, in breast milk, as well as in specific foods and drinks.
Probiotics can also be encountered within the mucosal lining of the urinary and vaginal systems, in breast milk, as well as in specific foods and drinks.
The key contribution of such beneficial bacteria is generally linked to gastrointestinal functionality and digestive efficiency. For example,
For example, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium probiotics have been known to boost the formation of lactic acid, which facilitates digestion (especially that of milk-based products), improves nutritional assimilation, and regularizes bowel motility in time.
The benefits of a correct gut rhythm, therefore, translate into ameliorated weight management, enhanced energy, and overall better health.
The same probiotic components also improve the internal creation of hydrogen peroxide, an antibacterial and antiseptic substance responsible for the elimination of harmful pathogens such as Helicobacter pylori, Candida albicans, and Escherichia coli.
The substantial concentration of probiotics within the gut explains why experts consider 70% of an individual’s immune screening capacity to reside within the gastrointestinal tract.
After all, these minute can end up protecting you from all sorts of ingested, airborne or even pre-existent ‘bad’ bacteria in an organic and safe fashion.
By suppressing their colonies, probiotics can eliminate fungal and virus overgrowths before they generate serious infections or complications within your body.
And did you know that probiotics can even influence your mental state? Well, it’s true! Because the neurological and gastrointestinal systems are closely interconnected via the gut-brain axis, any disturbance in one of them automatically reflects the health levels of the other.
Hence, a good probiotic count that normalizes lower GI processes equals lower chances of developing depression or anxiety and vice versa.
The Bifidobacterium genus is one of many probiotic types that can be found within the human structure, with its subspecies performing distinct roles within this organic context.
For a long time, specialists have been debating whether the Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium longum, and Bifidobacterium suis types were actually different enough so as to be considered independent categories or not.
After extensive research focused on the probiotics’ genetic makeup, they have decided to group these microorganism strains under the Bifidobacterium longum denomination, but with the infantis and suis denominations still being used to designate particular branches of the same probiotic.
Bifidobacterium infantis, therefore, represents a rod-shaped, anaerobic ‘good’ bacterium typically located at the level of the gastrointestinal and urogenital systems.
As the name so aptly suggests, its prevalence within these environments can be remarked during early infancy and childhood, when Bifidobacterium infantis can colonize an individual’s gut in a proportion of up to 90% of the total probiotic count. On the other hand, these readings gradually decrease with time, with other probiotic colonies reducing the number of Bifidobacterium infantis – but why so?
The answer lies in our dietary intake and evolutional mechanisms alike. As we all know, a person’ nutritional sustenance comes via milk and milk-based products during their early childhood. Even so, milk is often very hard to digest owing to its high content of oligosaccharides (or ‘tough’ sugars) – which is where Bifidobacterium infantis comes in very handy.
Passed on from the mother via natural birth and breast milk, this probiotic has the double role of regulating digestive patterns in these first stages of life and shaping the infant’s gastrointestinal patterns for later on in the future.
As these functions slowly begin to balance out, Bifidobacterium infantis is no longer needed in such a high amount of colonies, with other genera (Lactobacillus, Bacillus, etc.) becoming a more substantial part of the permanent microbiota.
Children born prematurely are especially vulnerable from a digestive standpoint, since they can easily develop necrotizing enterocolitis when exposed to pathogens their bodies are not yet equipped to fight off.
Luckily enough, favourable discoveries have been made in relation to Bifidobacterium infantis’ ability to reduce the occurrence of these infections, regulate intestinal microflora, and drastically eliminate the number of fatalities produced by this disease.
Still, Bifidobacterium infantis can be just as well used (via supplementation) in the same sense of milk processing by those who struggle with digestive disturbances such as lactose intolerance, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or ulcerative colitis.
Like most Bifidobacterium bacteria, Bifidobacterium infantis exhibits the capacity to boost lactic acid production within the stomach and intestines, hence enabling for smoother digestion of dairy products, increased nutrient absorption, and regularized bowel motility.
‘Bad’ bacteria like Escherichia coli and Campylobacter jejuni are renowned for their contagious nature, with symptoms like cramps, bloating, severe diarrhea, and dehydration becoming at times debilitating for who suffer from these infections.
Fortunately, Bifidobacterium infantis can help combat pathogen overgrowths in a more natural manner than most traditional medicine, with little to no side effects involved.
Aside from gastrointestinal wellness, Bifidobacterium infantis also plays an important part in immune screening against pathogens.
One of the most promising studies in this sense suggests that Bifidobacterium infantis is capable of modulating inflammatory responses within and beyond the gastrointestinal tract, thus showing potential in meliorating diverse issues like IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease), psoriasis, and CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome).
Similarly, Bifidobacterium infantis can diminish the number of urogenital infections such as vaginitis by keeping yeast colonies under control (Candida albicans, for example) and maintaining local microflora healthy and thriving.
More recent research has revealed that – unlike the majority of pathogens – Bifidobacterium infantis can withstand higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide within the gastrointestinal system. This translates into fewer episodes of infections and digestive imbalances, as well as more resistant probiotic colonies at the level of the gut.
Certain controlled experiments have come to reveal that these persistent probiotics can even have a beneficial effect over carcinogenic mutations, with Bifidobacterium infantis actively suppressing tumour expansion and their negative impact on human health in the long term.
And did you know that even your mind could benefit just as much from Bifidobacterium infantis as your body does? Despite what you might consider, your gastrointestinal and neurological systems are in fact connected via the gut-brain axis in such a way that they mutually influence each other – for better or for worse, that is.
Scientific investigations thus credit Bifidobacterium infantis with significantly ameliorated instances of anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders which either derive from or can be worsened by prolonged digestive imbalances.
Where can you find Bifidobacterium infantis?
As mentioned earlier on, the human organism is not the only place where you can come across these beneficial microorganisms, which is definitely to our advantage.
You see, negative factors like antibiotic administration, prolonged stress levels, and a poor eating regime can really put their mark on your natural probiotic count. This consequently leads to gastrointestinal imbalances, a weakened immune system, and even more mood swings than you would otherwise experience.
A situation of this sort then requires you to restore your internal probiotic numbers or CFUs (colony-forming units), something which can be simply done via a number of important Bifidobacterium infantis sources:
- Fermented vegetables – probiotics of the Bifidobacterium infantis type are a common presence inside various combinations of fermented veggies. A brine base enables for proper probiotic development, whereas a vinegar one usually hinders the formation of ‘good’ bacteria colonies. As a consequence, be on the lookout for brine pickles, olives, sauerkraut, and other vegetables mixes in order to improve your probiotic numbers on a regular basis. If you are seeking for more culinary diversity in this sense, then you could try probiotic-filled dishes such as Miso soup (with a soybean base), Kombucha tea (green/black tea), or Kimchi (spicy veggies).
- Dairy products – the lactic acid produced by probiotics during fermentation majorly contributes to the transformation of milk sugars into numerous other by-products such as natural yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, and soft cheeses (Romano, Mozzarella, Cheddar, Swiss, etc.). These products then continue to carry probiotic colonies within their composition and, by extension, into your own gastrointestinal system after consumption. Even if pasteurization is involved, many dairy companies (like Dannon, for instance) make a point of infusing their natural selections with probiotics like Bifidobacterium infantis before commercialization.
- Dietary supplements – one of the best ways of obtaining a Bifidobacterium infantis enhancement is via dietary enhancements. Whether in the shape of pills, liquid drops or powders, these products come in a vast array of formats that can be thus adapted to your specific probiotic needs. The most important aspects for you to take into consideration here are CFUs potency (which can range from a few millions to billions of microorganisms, depending on the product), strand composition (number and types of probiotics), age category (aimed at children, adults only or all ages), and manufacturer guarantee (ideally, the live cultures should be warranted until the expiration date printed on the packaging).
Bifidobacterium infantis – side effects and interactions
Unfortunately, Bifidobacterium infantis comes with a few drawbacks linked to it as well. In the case of healthy individuals, the most common side effects of Bifidobacterium infantis supplementation – whether through probiotic foods, drinks or supplements – is that of abdominal discomfort in the shape of bloating, gas, cramps, etc.
This constitutes the body’s natural response to a higher probiotic count than usual and its subsequent attempt at balancing out the ratio between the different cultures of ‘friendly’ bacteria from within the gut.
Probiotic supplements are often not that well regulated legally-wise, so make sure you purchase only the best quality Bifidobacterium infantis enhancers. Common side effects of low grade such items are allergies (due to the product’s contamination with gluten, soy, eggs, etc. during manufacturing), decreased nutrient absorption (because of the high content of fillers and preservatives) or no health results whatsoever (the colonies being insufficient or dead before they reach your gut to begin with).
Consulting with your personal physician should always be your first step before any major change in dieting or medication because they are the only ones capable of approving of such a change or not.
For example, a doctor’s visit is mandatory if you are pregnant, nursing, and/ or undergoing medical treatment for a certain health condition because Bifidobacterium infantis can and will interfere with a number of medications (immunosuppressants and steroids included).
In the case of people suffering from immune deficiency or certain gastrointestinal problems (such as short-bowel syndrome, let’s say), Bifidobacterium infantis supplementation should be avoided in light of the fact that bacterial transmutations are much more frequent in such medical instances. The consequences of these ‘migrations’ are often far from minor, with sepsis being the major threat.
Admittedly, far fewer people have suffered at the ‘hand’ of Bifidobacterium infantis when compared to all those helped by its positive characteristics, but we should also keep in mind the possible side effects and restrictions associated with this probiotic in order to avoid future unpleasantness.
Bifidobacterium infantis – general view
It goes without saying that Bifidobacterium infantis fills a crucial position in the hierarchy of human wellbeing, whether in the first days after birth or in the more advanced stages of life.
This ‘friendly’ bacterium’s positive impact on gastrointestinal, immune, and mental wellness is nothing short of impressive, with its lack of side effects on healthy people being a decided bonus in this sense.
So be sure to ask your doctor about supplementing your diet with Bifidobacterium infantis next time you are scheduled for a visit since it might as well change your life for the better.