Lactobacillus Acidophilus – Know the facts
The world of probiotics is undoubtedly a highly complex one, with Lactobacillus acidophilus being no exception. After all, when was the last time you saw a yogurt commercial without this name popping up several times in a row?
But, while you would be tempted to give this ‘good’ microorganism credit only for gastrointestinal well-being, the fact of the matter is that Lactobacillus acidophilus plays an important role within the entire human body.
From improved immunity to better mental focus, this probiotic has all the potential to be your next go-to health booster from here on out.
Probiotics and their benefits
Before looking into the specific advantages brought about by Lactobacillus acidophilus, we must first take a closer look at probiotics and their place within the economy of human wellness. So, ultimately, what are they and how do they work?
In scientific terms, probiotics constitute ‘pro-life’ bacteria, namely beneficial microorganisms that can be found all throughout the gastrointestinal and urogenital systems.
It is in these environments where probiotics thrive through colonies that attach themselves to the lining of their respective medium and become long-lasting, resistant parts of local microflora.
Such colonies are therefore able to maintain topical and general wellbeing by playing an active part in the organism’s main functions.
As a result, the main attributes of these ‘good’ organisms are improved digestive rhythms, regularized bowel motility, and facilitated nutrient assimilation at the level of the gut.
In addition, probiotics exhibit a high antimicrobial and immune-boosting capacity in the sense that they continuously inhibit the formation of ‘bad’ bacteria such as fungi, microbes, and viruses that might otherwise lead to health complications over time.
This property allows for protection against nose and throat infections, stomach bugs, and urogenital diseases, as well as dental cavities and skin breakouts.
Among the vast array of probiotic types, Lactobacillus acidophilus stands out as a particularly significant and equally famous bacterium inside the gut. From a theoretic standpoint, Lactobacillus acidophilus is a bacterium species pertaining to the Lactobacillaceae family and Lactobacillus genus.
It was first isolated by the Austrian physician Ernst Moro in the late 19th century, but it took almost another 40 years of research and testing before this probiotic was deliberately included into the production of dairy variants all over the world.
Needless to say, the high number of dairy brands currently employing Lactobacillus acidophilus as their prime probiotic component stands as proof that we have come a long way since the discovery of this ‘good’ microorganism.
For example, Dannon is currently renowned for its broad selection of natural yogurts containing numerous probiotic components, with Lactobacillus acidophilus being among them as a promoter of good digestive health and regular bowel motility.
Other worldwide brands that use this ‘friendly’ bacterium as either a starter culture for their yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, etc. or an added probiotic booster are Stonyfield Farm, Chobani, Yoplait, Siggi, and Fage.
The enthusiastic usage of Lactobacillus acidophilus in these types of dairy products is owed mostly to this probiotic’s ability to withstand harsher conditions – for instance, heat variations and rough handling – and hence arrive within the gastrointestinal system of consumers in potentially large numbers (depending on storage conditions, manufacturing technology, etc.).
How does Lactobacillus acidophilus impact your health?
One of the main positive aspects related to Lactobacillus acidophilus is its contribution to gastrointestinal wellness.
As previously mentioned, active colonies of this probiotic can be found inside the human body beginning with the mouth, where they help ‘trigger’ the process of food decomposition for easier digestion and simplified nutrient assimilation later on.
The denomination of ‘acidophilus’ associated with this Lactobacillus bacterium roughly translates from Latin into ‘acid-loving’, a clear indication of the probiotic’s major role within the gut – that is to transform the sugars in milk into lactic acid (via the enzyme called lactase).
Alongside gastric acid and bile, this substance forms a normal presence within the context of fermentation activities inside the gut. Consequently, it enables for correct food decomposition patterns (especially of milk-based foods) and proper visceral functionality.
Lactic acid is much more easily processed by the gastric system, which generates overall improved bowel rhythms and drastically reduced occurrences of bloating, gas, irregular bowel movement (diarrhea and/or constipation), abdominal discomfort, and cramps.
People who otherwise suffer from lactose intolerance or sensitivity can thus benefit immensely from Lactobacillus acidophilus in reducing their dairy-linked symptoms.
Even if you are not particularly sensitive to lactose, you can still benefit from this ‘good’ bacterium in the case of gastrointestinal imbalances such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease), and Crohn’s disease.
Enhanced immunity control is yet another way in which Lactobacillus acidophilus improves general wellness. Through its antiseptic and antimicrobial properties, this probiotic can limit or even suppress ‘bad’ bacteria overgrowths in various regions of the body and thus eliminate future illnesses from developing.
Take, for example, nose and throat infections usually caused by Streptococcus pathogens, gastrointestinal problems generated by Helicobacter pylori and Campylobacter jejuni bacteria or vaginal discomfort resulted from the uncontrolled expansion of Candida albicans yeasts.
Another common issue is that of diarrhea episodes, whether these are the outcome of food poisoning, acute episodes (characterized by watery stools and severe dehydration) or ‘traveller’s diarrhea’ (caused by ingesting contaminated liquids and foods).
In all of these cases, Lactobacillus acidophilus works like a natural antibiotic by reducing the respective pathogen numbers to their otherwise normal count within the body’s bacterial economy and hence preventing them from increased dominance in the future.
In theory, using Lactobacillus acidophilus as an organic medicine instead of pharmaceutical items could benefit the human body even more in the long-term. As we all know by now, ‘traditional’ antibiotics cannot distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria when trying to remove an infectious outbreak, so they most likely end up destroying both kinds in the process.
This then leads to intestinal problems that Lactobacillus acidophilus would not create as a direct consequence of its innate presence within the organism and immunostimulation properties.
Moreover, Lactobacillus acidophilus has been shown to maintain oral health by meliorating and treating periodontal diseases such as gingivitis (through supplementation), as well as reduce the intensity of skin eczemas, normalize cholesterol readings, and decrease the number of upper respiratory infections.
It has also been proven to minimize sugar spikings in diabetes, improve upon cardiovascular wellness, and even display promising anti-carcinogenic properties through prolonged usage.
Probably one of the most surprising benefits linked to Lactobacillus acidophilus is its positive impact on mental health. Because the gastrointestinal and neurological systems are interconnected via the gut-brain axis, any change in one of them automatically reflects into the makeup of the other.
Accordingly, experiencing a great level of stress for extended periods of time can translate into pronounced digestive irregularities, while prolonged gastric and intestinal abnormalities are commonly associated with depression, anxiety, and other debilitating mental disturbances.
Fortunately, more recent research has come in favour of probiotics such as Lactobacillus acidophilus for minimizing the side effects of these imbalances in the long run, with obvious benefits related to the mind and body alike.
Although we should definitely take into consideration the fact that studies focused primarily on the gut-brain axis are still at the beginning of their discoveries, it cannot be denied that their findings are primarily oriented towards the beneficial influence of probiotics inside the human body (either naturally or via external supplementation).
Sources of Lactobacillus acidophilus supplementation
Having seen the highly beneficial attributes of Lactobacillus acidophilus, it is only natural to look into how you can actively boost your internal probiotic count and, as a direct consequence, ‘upgrade’ your general health as well. So here are the main sources of Lactobacillus acidophilus enhancement available nowadays:
As indicated before, Lactobacillus acidophilus innately displays a strong ability to start off fermentation processes. This can happen either naturally or by introducing said probiotic into a fermentation-friendly medium like brine (salt and water), whey, etc.
From pickles and olives to sauerkraut and other vegetable combinations, Lactobacillus acidophilus is more than likely to be a dominant presence within these foods.
If you want to spice things up in your probiotic regime, then there is always the option of more culturally specific dishes such as Kimchi (seasoned veggies), Kombucha tea (fermented green or black tea), and Miso paste/ soup (made from soybeans).
Keep in mind to stay clear of vinegar-based varieties though, since this substance does not allow for proper probiotic development.
Lactobacillus acidophilus can be subsequently added inside various types of dairy products because the pasteurization process (which involves elevated temperatures) naturally kills off the ‘friendly’ bacteria alongside more harmful ones.
Products like yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, and soft cheeses (Mozzarella, Cheddar, Parmesan, etc.) can then be infused with Lactobacillus acidophilus cultures before commercialization in order to restore the nutritive properties brought about by their original probiotic content.
In the case of soft cheeses, for example, ‘good’ microorganisms like Lactobacillus acidophilus are often used as a starter culture in the fermentation process itself.
Like all probiotics pertaining to the Lactobacillus genus, Lactobacillus acidophilus ameliorates lactose intolerance through the fermentation process that transforms milk sugars into lactic acid and more easily digestible nutrients too.
Nowadays, dietary enhancers containing Lactobacillus acidophilus can be found in basically any shape and degree of potency, depending on your particular digestive needs. From liquid drops and tablets to pills and powders, the market for probiotic supplements has expanded dramatically over the past few years in terms of both selection and global access.
Theoretically, using a Lactobacillus acidophilus supplement can be a great way to bypass dietary restrictions and also guarantee you are ingesting a certain number of live cultures via each dosage. Modern technologies have grown to accommodate better culture preservation, meaning that CFUs (colony-forming units) can range between as low as a few million microorganisms and up to 50-100 billion or more for every serving.
To make sure you purchase only the best quality product, look for brands which guarantee their probiotic cultures throughout the expiration date – and not just until manufacturing time. Aim for enhancers which contain a greater percentage of Lactobacillus acidophilus in their probiotic blend and with no more than 10-11 distinct strains in their composition. Additionally, previous customer reviews are a pretty accurate indication of a probiotic supplement’s quality or, conversely, lack of it.
Potential side effects of using Lactobacillus acidophilus
Although considered generally safe and actually recommended for consumption, Lactobacillus acidophilus does have a series of negative aspects related to it as well.
Common signs of Lactobacillus acidophilus side effects are gas, bloating, and abdominal pain, with more severe reactions including skin breakouts and local swelling.
Supplements containing this probiotic should not be taken alongside steroids or other types of medicine aimed at suppressing your immune system (for example, in the eventuality of an organ transplant).
Furthermore, pregnant or nursing mothers should take caution with Lactobacillus acidophilus supplementation (to be taken only under medical supervision), as well as consult with a paediatrician before choosing to administer probiotic enhancers to young children.
Individuals who present a compromised immune system or suffer from short-bowel syndrome should definitely avoid probiotic supplementation because there is a high risk of such bacteria entering their bloodstream and resulting in acute sepsis or even death.
Following the same line referring to Lactobacillus acidophilus’ negative impact on human wellness, some studies have actually suggested that Lactobacillus colonies contributed to the advancement of tooth caries by accelerating acid production within the mouth cavity and worsening the effects of dental problems over time.
Though overall promising, the vast majority of research pertaining to Lactobacillus acidophilus (and probiotic in general) is still at a theoretical beginning and predominantly mice-based experimentation. This implies that we still need some more evidence to positively regard these microorganisms as viable alternative treatments to different diseases.
Lactobacillus acidophilus – overall view
The benefits of Lactobacillus acidophilus can already be seen in gastrointestinal and urogenital functionality inside the body, since – after all – this ‘good’ bacterium is nothing short of a ‘miracle worker’ for food processing, pathogen shielding, and general wellbeing of your body and mind alike.
Therefore, from digestion and oral health to immunity screening and better moods, Lactobacillus acidophilus displays all likelihood of being the future’s new go-to probiotic for head-to-toe wholesomeness.