No probiotics guide would be complete without providing information on the kinds of beneficial bacteria that probiotic products should contain. One of the most important families of “good” bacteria is known as Lactobacillus. Here’s some information on this vital group of bacteria, and some of the health benefits various strains provide.
Why You Need Lactobacillus
Just a few years ago, people scoffed at the idea of willingly swallowing a capsule that contained live bacteria. Thankfully, science has advanced to the point that we now know there are many types of bacteria that can actually help the body. But there are many bad ones as well, and the good ones need as much reinforcement as we can give them in order to keep the harmful microbes in check.
There’s a war going on in your “gut,” or gastrointestinal tract – one you probably had no idea was even happening. The combatants are the aforementioned “good” bacteria, such as Lactobacillus, and the “bad” ones. If the number of harmful microbes in the gut isn’t properly balanced out, you’re at risk for several different digestive issues. These can range from relatively minor gas and bloating to a potentially debilitating bout of irritable bowel syndrome.
Lactobacillus bacteria play a critical role in our overall digestive health. They help in the production of lactase, an enzyme we need in order to be able to digest sour cream, milk, yogurt, and other dairy products. They also help keep the number of harmful microbes in check by producing lactic acid.
These are just a few of the Lactobacillus strains that are a staple of many of the probiotics products you’ll find on the shelves of your local health food store:
If there’s a “famous” member of the Lactobacillus family of bacteria, L. acidophilus is it. This strain is one of the most important, because it is thought to help reduce high cholesterol as well as boost the immune system.1,2
Brevis, according to research, helps to protect the health of gums. One study involved 21 adults who were suffering from periodontitis, a particularly serious form of gum disease. Researchers gave them lozenges containing L. brevis, and after comparing saliva samples before and after treatment, concluded that the lozenges substantially reduced the patients’ symptoms. Their results suggest one of the reasons L. brevis was so effective is that it has significant anti-inflammatory properties.3
This is a relatively obscure Lactobacillus strain, and there hasn’t been a lot of research performed into its potential health benefits. However, the studies that have been performed are very encouraging. One study showed that participants lost an average of 10 percent of abdominal fat after taking probiotic supplements containing L. gasseri for 90 days.4 Other studies show that the strain could help reduce pain in women suffering from endometriosis, and it may also help reduce high cholesterol.5,6
How to Make Sure You Get Enough Lactobacillus Bacteria
There are a lot of foods that contain not only Lactobacillus but other families of beneficial bacteria as well. But unless you plan on eating only fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, and sourdough bread – and eating a whole lot of them – you’ll need to find another way to make sure you have an ample supply.
That’s where supplements come in. There are thousands of products available, and no probiotics guide could efficiently give you the details on all of them. It can be overwhelming for people to decide which supplements are the best, and which ones are nothing but a waste of money.
The best advice when it comes to purchasing probiotics is to look at the labels. They will give you key clues as to which products you should consider buying. The labeling should provide detailed information on the beneficial bacteria contained in the products – if you don’t see the ingredients listed, scratch that product off your list immediately. Look for not only Lactobacillus bacteria, but strains in the Bifidobacterium family as well.
We hope that you’ve found this probiotics guide helpful, but talk to your doctor for more information. He or she may be able to provide some recommendations as to what probiotics products may be the best for your specific needs.