Lactobacillus Paracasei – Know the Facts
As you probably know by now, your gastrointestinal system is the metaphorical battleground for both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria on a daily basis. What you aren’t probably that aware of is that certain ‘friendly’ microorganisms (or probiotics) can help you more than others in this instance, as is the case with Lactobacillus paracasei.
While not (yet) as famous as probiotics like Bifidobacterium longum or Lactobacillus acidophilus, it is safe to say that Lactobacillus paracasei has started gaining more and more popularity among dairy and supplement consumers as a result of its inclusion into numerous such products.
But how much information do you actually associate with Lactobacillus paracasei in terms of digestive, immune, and overall wellness? Let’s find out together by highlighting the structure of probiotics in general, their influence on the human body, and how Lactobacillus paracasei finds its place in this not-so-complicated digestive equation after all.
Becoming ‘pro’ probiotics
These days, we are constantly faced with a pretty fair number of probiotic elements in all sorts of foods and dietary enhancers. Nevertheless, we often go about with our lives convinced of the fact that ‘probiotics = beneficial’ – but that’s about it. Paradoxically, some people even shy away when they hear the word ‘bacteria’ in connection with probiotics because they immediately connect it with the negative meaning otherwise reserved for pathogens like microbes, fungi, and yeasts.
If we were to take a closer glimpse at these natural components of the human body, we would understand that probiotics are ‘friendly’ or ‘good’ bacteria that colonize the human gut beginning with the early stages of infancy and which then continue to support our internal functions all throughout our lives.
The etymology of the word ‘probiotic’ roughly translates into ‘pro-life’, meaning that such microorganisms develop a symbiotic connection with their host that then results in mutual advantages. By adhering to the mucosal lining of the mouth, stomach, and intestines, probiotics are able to promote enhanced food processing, better nutrient absorption, and regular bowel motility over time.
Probiotics such as Lactobacillus paracasei can also be attributed with a very strong antiseptic activity inside the gut. Microorganisms of the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium variety are renowned for their capacity to boost the internal production of lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and acetic acid. In turn, these substances inhibit pathogen formation and subsequently accelerate digestive processes. It thus makes sense to find out that up to 70% of a person’s immune response can be located within the gastrointestinal tract.
‘Friendly’ bacteria can be encountered at the level of the urinary and genital systems as well (especially in women), with breast milk being among the primary natural sources of probiotic supplementation for small children. Outside the human organism, we can come across probiotics in a number of foods like soft cheeses, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, dark chocolate, etc.
Probiotics, gastrointestinal wellbeing, and Lactobacillus paracasei
Lactobacillus paracasei holds a very interesting position in the economy of human-friendly microorganisms. This rod-shaped species pertains to the Lactobacillaceae family and Lactobacillus genus, being a full-fledged lactic acid bacterium. The aforementioned characteristic implies that the presence of Lactobacillus paracasei colonies significantly boosts the fermentation process of dairy foods via increased processing of carbohydrates (in particular, that of oligosaccharides and polysaccharides).
In simpler terms, Lactobacillus paracasei aids in the digestive activity of lactose-based products which would otherwise generate a certain degree of sensitivity or side effects (including bloating, nausea, cramping, etc.). By breaking down the ‘tough’ sugars in milk, Lactobacillus paracasei creates a more stable intestinal microbiota and therefore meliorates the fermentation process throughout its entire length.
Lactobacillus paracasei was first isolated as a lactic acid bacterium and probiotic at the beginning of the 21st century from a number of sources, including dairy, plants, and the human gut. Although extremely similar to other members of the Lactobacillus genus, Lactobacillus paracasei can be easily distinguished in relation to its specific fermentation patterns that focus on the transformation of carbohydrates into lactose (or lactic acid), hydrogen peroxide, and various gases.
Lactobacillus paracasei cultures can grow at temperatures of up to 40 °C (104 oF), which again demonstrates the resistant nature of probiotics in general. Even so, keep in mind that more elevated heat – such as the one produced by pasteurization, for example – can greatly damage colonies prior to commercialization. Consequently, keep an eye out for products that specifically contain Lactobacillus paracasei or other beneficial bacteria added post-pasteurization in order to enjoy the full influence of probiotics inside your organism.
Where can you find Lactobacillus paracasei?
As mentioned before, probiotics can be encountered in a number of environments, from soil and vegetables to human breast milk. And, despite the fact that they are an innate component of said body, they are frequently affected by negative factors like antibiotic treatments, bad eating habits, and excessive amounts of stress. The solution to having a correctly functioning gut is to rely on external supplementation so as to restore your probiotic numbers back to normal.
Obviously, dairy foods are the easiest and probably most rewarding way to go for Lactobacillus paracasei bacteria. Their lactic acid producing potential makes them ideal as starter cultures in the fermentation process of yogurt, kefir, and buttermilk, as well as flavour enhancers for cheeses of the Gouda and Emmental variety, for instance.
Even those who suffer from lactose intolerance might be thus able to consume dairy products that specifically contain Lactobacillus paracasei colonies, with the latter facilitating the digestion of ‘pesky’ milk sugars even before the actual food decomposition begins and – at the same time – increasing calcium, vitamin, and protein levels.
Dietary supplements based on single or mixed strains of Lactobacillus paracasei are an equally popular choice of probiotic enrichment nowadays. Their format and travel versatility makes them the go-to option for those who have to face dietary restrictions or maybe even pickier tastes in food.
Commercial enhancers can deliver a great number of Lactobacillus paracasei colonies with just one single serving, while also presenting you with a more diverse selection in terms of potency, price-quality ratio, customer guarantees, etc.
Some companies even add prebiotics into the mix as well, which are ingredients that prepare the local microbiota for the following probiotic colonies and then transform into nourishment for the latter ‘friendly’ microorganism’s optimal survival.
Even though they are not everybody’s first pick for probiotic intake, fermented vegetables are actually a great source of ‘good’ microorganisms – Lactobacillus paracasei included. Green olives, pickles of all sorts, and sauerkraut are basically within our reach in every supermarket, with Asian dishes like Kombucha tea, tempeh (fermented soybeans), Umeboshi plums, and Kimchi becoming more popular in restaurants and food isles alike. This probiotic boost is accompanied by a good amount of fibre – which is just as important for digestion – and a pleasant culinary experience too.
In addition, subspecies from the Lactobacillus paracasei class can be encountered within sourdough bread, cured meats, red wine, and even some brands of dark chocolate.
The advantages of Lactobacillus paracasei
You might be wondering by now: but how does it really pay off to eat sources of Lactobacillus paracasei on a regular basis? Well, the answer is ‘in more ways than you could probably anticipate’.
First off, we must again take into account the strongly positive influence Lactobacillus paracasei has on the entire gastrointestinal environment. The most visible such impact is in the case of lactose fermentation, with sensitive or intolerant people being able to benefit from an active alleviation of their symptoms in the long run. Additionally, Lactobacillus paracasei cultures have been shown to relax gut musculature and hence meliorate instances of spasms, inflammation, and discomfort.
A similar situation is that of infant diarrhea, which can easily become chromicised due to unsuccessful treatments and individual propensities towards pathogen infections that are gut-specific (Helicobacter pylori, Campylobacter jejuni, etc.). Luckily enough, more recent studies argue that Lactobacillus paracasei supplementation can help reduce intestinal imbalances by restoring local microbiota back to normal readings, normalizing bowel movement, and significantly ameliorating visceral pain.
Lactic acid production shifts from gastrointestinal wellness into immunity protection as well: as some research maintains, Lactobacillus paracasei cultures can turn out to be particularly helpful for Staphylococcus aureus infections. These overgrowths are more than often linked to respiratory issues, skin allergies, and instances of food poisoning, not to mention its http://www.ijidonline.com/article/S1201-9712(11)00153-6/abstractincreasing resistance in the face of traditional antipatriotic treatments.
Thus, it is truly advantageous that probiotics like Lactobacillus paracasei have more than once been called ‘natural probiotics’ by both the medical and nutritionist communities. While commercial grade medicines cannot distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria, probiotics are capable of destroying microbes, viruses, fungi, and protozoa without inflicting any damage on your gastrointestinal system. As a consequence, the antiseptic quality of Lactobacillus paracasei and other probiotic lies in their capacity to boost internal acid production and prevent pathogens from adhering to the internal mucosal lining.
This type of antibacterial screening is very welcomed in Candida albicans infections that manifest themselves through severe episodes of itching, discomfort, and discharge for women. One study showed that even heat-killed colonies of Lactobacillus paracasei probiotics could raise the organism’s own defence lines against these pathogens and therefore diminish the duration and perceived intensity of their associated symptoms.
Surprisingly, Lactobacillus paracasei can be also connected to better hormonal activity and mental wellness. To fully understand this cause-effect relation, we must first look closer at what is nowadays known as the ‘brain-gut axis’. This implies that your neurological system is in a permanent relation with your digestive one, which explains why periods of stress affect digestion and, vice-versa, why long-term gastrointestinal imbalances can worsen pre-existing mood disturbances.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (or IBS, for short) falls into the latter category, current data revealing that it can be directly correlated with intensified feelings of depression, anxiety, and other mood imbalances. On the other hand, stable Lactobacillus paracasei enhancement demonstrated a vast melioration in both IBS symptoms and emotional responses. Likewise, cases of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) showed significant improvement under Lactobacillus paracasei colonization within the gut.
Not only does Lactobacillus paracasei amend psychological variances, but it can equally promote a more positive outlook on life as well. These ‘friendly’ microorganisms have been proven to maximize the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid within the organism. These GABA receptors are in turn responsible with mental operations controlling neuronal excitability, muscle tone, and with direct influence over major organs such as the stomach, pancreas, liver, lungs, reproductive organs, etc.
All of the examples above serve the purpose of explaining how something innately human – in this instance, Lactobacillus paracasei probiotics – can be ‘repurposed’ so as to restore your health and happiness alike.
The disadvantages of Lactobacillus paracasei
Like almost all probiotic species, Lactobacillus paracasei is in itself a harmless bacterium that simply adheres to your mucosal lining, helps you digest food, and keeps ‘bad’ bacteria in check when they threaten your overall health.
However, distinct circumstances revolving around your state of general health do not permit for safe probiotic enhancement, so you should become aware of these and hence avoid supplementation accordingly.
Extreme care should be given for patients who suffer from innate or acquired immunodeficiency of any kind. Lactobacillus paracasei cultures should be avoided if you have a weakened immunity response, are undergoing immunosuppressant therapy or have been recently involved in an organ transplant procedure. These situations have a negative reputation of enabling bacterial translocation and therefore leading to medical complications and even sepsis. Caution is equally urged if you are receiving antidepressant treatment or are a pregnant/ nursing mother.
Conversely, if you are a healthy, doctor-‘approved’ individual, then you most likely have the green light for Lactobacillus paracasei consumption in any shape, way or form. At worst, you might experience some abdominal discomfort in the shape of distention (bloating), gas, and irregular bowel motility, but these symptoms should go away within a few days tops.
Why choose Lactobacillus paracasei in the first place?
With the probiotic world being so full of options, it becomes only natural that we should be picky in our choice of ‘good’ bacteria and select only the ones which cater to all of our health and lifestyle needs at once.
Luckily, Lactobacillus paracasei seems to cover a wide spectrum of human welfare necessities, from improved lactose tolerance and regular intestinal rhythms to better immunity screening and normalized moods. How many current forms of medication can claim that (and even more) in this day and age? In all honesty, probably none (realistically, that is).
So don’t hesitate in giving Lactobacillus paracasei a chance next time you are out grocery shopping or browsing online for a new dietary supplement. It could end up making a positive difference in your life too!