Lactobacillus Plantarum – Know the Facts
Like all probiotics, Lactobacillus Plantarum represents one of our body’s greatest achievements in terms of gastrointestinal, immune, and mental wellness. It also means that not everybody might be so knowledgeable about how this beneficial bacteria works inside the organism or even how important it is to the overall economy of your welfare.
To be fair, it is hard to keep up with all the health-related information of nowadays, especially with technological advancements seemingly putting medical and nutritional discoveries on fast-forward. But why miss out on something which could potentially change your life for the better?
So stick around to learn some more about probiotics, Lactobacillus Plantarum, and how nature has already provided us with all the tools needed to improve both our physical and psychological wellbeing at the same time.
How do probiotics work?
Before tackling the subject of Lactobacillus Plantarum and its place within the gut, we must first make sure we understand the concept of probiotics and what it stands for.
In simple terms, the word ‘probiotics’ is used to designate the specific group of ‘good’ or ‘friendly’ bacteria that organically exist within the gastrointestinal system of most mammals (humans included), as well as some of the vegetable and soil-based origin.
These symbiotic bacteria perform a number of activities within the body, the main one being that of boosting digestive functions such as food processing (breaking down substances and facilitating nutrient assimilation), lactose decomposition, and bowel motility.
‘Good’ microorganisms of this type can help in the case of chronic gut issues as well, with probiotics showing promising results in the case of Crohn’s disease, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), and IBD (Irritable Bowel Disorder).
Probiotics are equally renowned for their antiseptic properties. By creating small amounts of hydrogen peroxide and lactic acid within the organism, probiotics like Lactobacillus Plantarum are able to combat infectious diseases before their onset by eliminating the ‘bad’ bacteria that cause them.
This germicidal quality extends all throughout the gastrointestinal tract, meaning that probiotics can potentially shield you against anything between throat infections and dental cavities to stomach bugs and urogenital overgrowths (Candida albicans, for example).
What’s the deal with Lactobacillus Plantarum?
Lactobacillus Plantarum is a probiotic component pertaining to the Lactobacillaceae family and Lactobacillus genus, the latter category housing more than 50 species of this bacterium.
It is one of the most common presences within the gut and one of the most abundant regarding the actual number of live organisms, which only attests to its general importance.
The first successful isolation of this bacterium resulted from a sample of human saliva, but it was only in 2003 when researcher Michiel Kleerebezem managed to completely decipher the genome pertaining to this specific strain.
The information discovered at that point then allowed other specialists to get a better sense of how Lactobacillus Plantarum works and how we could use it to ameliorate various health conditions in the future.
It should thus be pointed out that, within the gastrointestinal tract, Lactobacillus Plantarum can withstand harsher conditions such as bile, gastric acid, and even temperature or pressure fluctuations.
These adaptive characteristics allow it to then create long-lasting colonies that adhere to the intestinal lining and perform the aforementioned tasks of ameliorating digestive patterns, enhancing bowel movements, and regulating nutritional absorption.
The fermentative aspect is pivotal too because it more or less justifies the presence of Lactobacillus Plantarum within the stomach and intestines. You see, when food is ingested and starts passing through the gut, Lactobacillus Plantarum becomes triggered into metabolizing said food into substances that are more easily processed by the body (like amino acids, for instance).
The result is that you experience increased energy levels, better control over your weight readings, and an overall sense of wellbeing.
Moreover, fermentation helps Lactobacillus Plantarum generate lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide, two elements which then contribute to immunity protection through their disinfectant qualities.
In fact, probiotics have often been called the ‘natural antibiotics’ of the human organism, with the highly important difference that they kill off ‘bad’ bacteria selectively and leave the ‘good’ ones alone (unlike traditional forms of medication).
What are the benefits of Lactobacillus Plantarum?
As indicated so far, Lactobacillus Plantarum can be widely considered as a safe probiotic for consumption by healthy individuals via foods and supplements alike. Its major advantages are still being studied by nutritionists and scientists alike, with the most obvious and pertinent discoveries presenting themselves as follows:
- Gastrointestinal – as part of the organism’s natural intestinal microbiota, Lactobacillus Plantarum participates in a number of digestive activities which include decomposition, assimilation, and correct gut movement. It is also true that this probiotic can alleviate the symptoms associated with a series of gastrointestinal imbalances as well, from IBS to chronic diarrhea. Studies have revealed that Lactobacillus Plantarum could be used to significantly decrease intestinal inflammation levels linked to pathogen infections such as Escherichia coli (which causes colitis, especially in small children) and Salmonella dublin.
The same beneficial action can be applied in instances of lactose intolerance, with Lactobacillus plantarum’s strong fermentative capacities breaking down milk sugars more effectively than they would be in the probiotic’s absence. Recent research focused on this ‘good’ bacterium have brought to our attention that not only does Lactobacillus plantarum improve dairy tolerance in sensitive individuals, but it also exhibits an inhibitory action over lipase deposits. This implies that regular administration of this probiotic – coupled with a correct eating regime and exercising routine – could notably reduce weight gaining and abdominal fat percentages.
- Immunity – probiotics are just as well adapted to the intestinal environment so as to withstand the harsher influence of acids and bile, as well as combat the overgrowths of pathogens when detected within different parts of the body. The immunomodulatory aspect of Lactobacillus plantarum is nothing new to the scientific community, with studies revealing that various strains from this probiotic category can positively influence a weakened immune system and restore germicidal shielding within a matter of weeks. This is very important because airborne or ingested pathogens affect the entire length of the gastrointestinal tract, the most common culprits being Streptococcus (throat infections and cavity formation), Helicobacter pylori and Escherichia coli (prolonged episodes of diarrhea and abdominal discomfort), Candida albicans (vaginal and urinary infections), etc.
- Mental stability – as you might have guessed by now, your psychological state is very much influenced by the wellbeing of your intestinal tract. This direct link is called by the name of ‘the brain-gut axis’ and it relies predominantly on the vagus nerve (one of the largest in the organism) for back-and-forth transmission of information between your neurological and gastrointestinal systems. Long-term digestive imbalances like IBS and Crohn’s disease have been frequently associated with elevated readings of cortisol (the ‘stress’ hormone) and disturbed behavioral patterns that can render even the most normal day-to-day activities a chore for those affected by them. Consequently, regular administration of Lactobacillus plantarum (via foods and enhancers alike) can be employed to ameliorate gastrointestinal symptoms and either prevent or reduce manifestations related to chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, anxiety, and stress.
- Oral health – as research reveals to us, Lactobacillus plantarum is such a common presence within the oral microbiota of some adults that it can constitute almost half of the probiotic colonies found at the level of the mouth. The advantage of this predominance is then reflected in cavity protection, periodontal support, and local immune boosting. For example, Lactobacillus plantarum colonies prevent the development of pathogens like Streptococcus mutans and Porphyromonas gingivalis, which are otherwise responsible for throat infections and chronic periodontitis in adults. In general, Lactobacillus probiotics have a strong capacity of adherence to the mucosal lining of various internal environments, therefore ensuring the same resistant colonies in the oral cavity as in the gastrointestinal or urogenital systems alike.
How can you increase your Lactobacillus Plantarum intake?
- Dairy products – as pointed out before, Lactobacillus Plantarum exhibits a series of strong fermentative properties within the gut – and not only. Its ability to transform milk sugars into lactic acid can be transferred into the dairy world as well, with Lactobacillus plantarum being nowadays used as a starter culture for numerous natural yogurts and types of kefir, buttermilk, and soft cheeses (Mozzarella, Gouda, Parmesan, etc.). Unfortunately, the vast majority of dairy manufacturers rely on pasteurization to make their products safe for consumption by the general public, which automatically translates into the destruction of said helpful colonies. However, as the probiotic movement gained traction within the past couple of years, more and more companies have started adding Lactobacillus Plantarum bacteria post-pasteurization in order to make their dairy items both healthier and more appealing to potential buyers.
- Fermented vegetables – did you know that probiotics can be found in pickled veggies as well? It turns out that beneficial bacteria of the Lactobacillus Plantarum sort can also trigger the fermentation process of brine-based products (since vinegar damages the live organisms). Sauerkraut, olives, Kimchi, Umeboshi plums, Kombucha tea, Natto, pickles of all shapes and sizes – you name your fermented vegetable of choice and it is more than likely for it to have a probiotic base. Unfortunately, the same pasteurization scenario of the dairy products applies here as well, meaning that these foods lose the majority of their bacterial content before they hit the shelves. The reverse is also true, with numerous brands boosting their probiotic (and Lactobacillus Plantarum) counts after pasteurization to restore that health ‘kick’ right back to normal.
- Dietary enhancers – the obvious gain of probiotic supplements is that they can be very easily adapted to a variety of lifestyles. For example, you can get your hands on Lactobacillus Plantarum supplements which are vegetarian or vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, GMO-free, and even filled with fewer additives and preservatives than usual. Their wide array of formats also helps (pills, powders, tablets, liquid drops, stick packs, etc.), while attractive customer guarantees ensure for a more stable and potentially higher quality product. As a customer, the main things to take into consideration before buying such a supplement are its strain formula (whether it contains other probiotics besides Lactobacillus plantarum and what are their advantages), the CFUs number (or the number of live microorganisms guaranteed by the manufacturer), and the age recommendations (some products are aimed at both children and adults, while others are strictly child-oriented or alternatively only 18 years+).
Are there any drawbacks associated with Lactobacillus plantarum?
You might be thinking: if Lactobacillus Plantarum is a natural part of my organism, how can it do me harm? The answer is that, although an innate and generally safe presence within the gastrointestinal system, sustained supplementation of this probiotic can and most likely will affect certain categories of users if the administration is done incorrectly.
The first category includes healthy individuals which might experience abdominal discomfort such as flatulence, bloating, cramping, and nausea at the beginning of their Lactobacillus Plantarum supplementation regime.
Don’t worry, though: because your body is trying to integrate the new colonies in the economy of the old ones, you might go through a rough couple of days from a digestive standpoint – but just that. Symptoms of this sort should subside on their own within a week.
The second grouping refers to otherwise healthy people who display a more severe allergenic reaction to Lactobacillus plantarum that can include swelling and difficulty breathing.
Such instances are rare and depend majorly on the person’s medical history (recorded or not) and the probiotic source employed (for instance, a bad quality probiotic or spoiled dairy).
If you suffer from a weakened immune system or short-bowel syndrome, then you most likely fit into the third class. Individuals from this category must avoid Lactobacillus plantarum supplementation (and probiotic enhancement in general, for that matter).
Otherwise, they run the very real risk of developing sepsis (blood poisoning) and putting their life in danger because these debilitated immunomodulatory reactions permit even ‘good’ bacteria to move inside the body and cause health problems instead of fixing them.
Why go for Lactobacillus Plantarum?
The simplest answer would be: why not? With its digestive boosting, immune shielding, mental health protecting, and many other positive attributes, Lactobacillus Plantarum shows all the promise to be the next revolutionary name in the world of probiotics.
It is safe to use, resistant within the organism, and ‘prone’ to protect your organism quite literally from head-to-toe. And, although specialized studies have a long way to go before declaring Lactobacillus Plantarum as an alternative to ‘all’ medical conditions, the scientific breakthroughs brought to our collective attention so far have been nothing short of impressive regarding this probiotic in particular.
So go give Lactobacillus Plantarum a chance to make your tummy healthier and your brain happier for having tried it in the first place!