Lactobacillus acidiophilus

November 12, 2012

Lactobacillus acidiophilus

Fermentation refers to the process of conversion of sugars and carbohydrates into alcohol, carbon dioxide and lactic acid by lactic acid bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus. Fermented products have unique taste and improved palatability.

Lactic Acid Bacteria

Lactic acid bacteria are found extensively in nature. The bacteria can survive in highly acidic environments with a pH of 4 or lower. Lactobacillus acidophilus and other bacteria in this family use lactose as their main source of energy and convert it into lactic acid. While, homofermentative lactic acid bacteria produce only lactic acid as the end product of fermentation reaction, heterofermentative bacteria produce additional by-products such as acetic acid, ethanol and carbon dioxide as well. These end products change taste and texture of foods.

Lactobacillus acidophilus

Lactobacillus acidophilus is a rod-shaped, motile bacterium that can grow in the presence or absence of oxygen. This homofermentative bacterium is probably the most well-known species of the lactic acid bacteria family. It is found in the mouth, vagina and digestive tract of healthy humans. It can also be found in certain dairy products such as cheese and yogurt. L. acidiphilus is also freeze-dried and sold in capsule and tablet form at local pharmacies and grocery stores.

Dairy Industry

Sweet acidophilus milk and yogurt are one of the most familiar and popular fermented products in the grocery store. They are made by inoculating strains of Lactobacillus acidophilus into milk. It takes about 24 hours for the proteins in the milk to breakdown and form a gel that converts milk into yogurt and buttermilk. These products along with sweet acidophilus milk can help manage digestive discomfort, cramps and diarrhea, conditions that affect almost 75 percent of the world’s population.

Nutritional Supplements

Lactobacillus acidophilus is a probiotic that helps improve your body’s ability to fight diseases. Regular consumption of yogurt or supplements rich in L. acidophilus can help lower the yeast or candida population in the vagina, and thereby, reduce the risk of vaginal thrush. However, some research studies do not support these claims. Some Lactobacillus acidophilus supplement manufacturers also claim that the bacteria can help restore the normal flora levels in the digestive tract, especially after antibiotic use. These bacteria compete with other bacteria for the nutrients in the human body and create an acidic environment that helps prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the digestive tract. The acidic environment in the gastrointestinal tract also helps in the digestion of food.

The supplements are found as 470-1000mg capsules that contain 2.5 billion-14 billion live cells of bacteria.

Tips

Although the claims associated with Lactobacillus acidophilus cannot be verified with concrete research, the Food and Drug Administration states that manufacturers do not require its approval to sell these supplements in stores.

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