In recent years there has been much talk, and advertising, concerning so-called ‘healthy bacteria’ particularly in the area of aiding good digestion and a healthy gut. Bifidobacterium lactis is powerful transient probiotic bacteria which are thought to aid in the fight against bad bacteria and the damage it can do to the body; it is also thought to help the digestive process and improve immunity. Bifidobacterium lactis is frequently added to dairy products such as yogurt where it is promoted as a probiotic – many people do not realize that Bifidobacterium lactis is also present in human intestines. This healthy bacteria is thought to be of use in dealing with a number of conditions –
- Prevention of diarrhea – irritation of the gastrointestinal tract may result in diarrhea which, at its’ worst can, in fact, be fatal. The initial irritation can be caused by a number of factors such as medicine, food poisoning and parasites. Research has shown that consuming regulated amounts of Bifidobacterium lactis does dramatically reduce the risk of contracting diarrhea particularly when there is a change in water source or the environment.
- At the other end of the spectrum, Bifidobacterium lactis, when contained in dairy products,has been found to alleviate constipation when taken over a 3 to 6 week period. Research has been undertaken to see if the bacterium will provoke more frequent bowel movements.
- Patients who suffer with regular bouts of colitis – an inflammatory condition of the colon – have found that their condition is improved on consumption of Bifidobacterium lactis. This is probably due to beneficial micro-organisms produced when the Bifidobacterium lactis has fermented and which then reside in the colon – these micro-organisms will help to eliminate toxic colonic waste which is one of the main causes of colitis. It is now very common to see that healthy bacteria has been added to food products such as milk, cheese and even baby milk in order to improve colon health and decrease the possibility of colon inflammation.
- Relief of irritable bowel syndrome
- Some studies suggest that this bacterium is beneficial to sufferers of skin disorders such as atopic eczema as well as to those with chronic allergies.
- Promotion of healthy cholesterol.
- Limited research has seemed to indicate that consumption of Bifidobacterium lactis by those with celiac disease has led to some reduction in symptoms and sensitivity, however this research is still in its’ early stages and many of the results are nothing more than anecdotal.
Probiotics are added to many food products, including baby food, it is therefore easy to try a variety of enhanced foods to see if they are beneficial to you. Whilst considering the supposed benefits of any probiotic it is also wise to remember that much of the research into those benefits is funded by the very companies who produce the food products and who may even have trademarked particular names which sound, to the lay person, very scientific and which may appear, at second glance, to be something of a marketing technique.