Lactobacillus acidophilus is commonly referred to as a friendly bacteria. It is naturally present in the small intestine and the vagina and helps in the maintenance of a healthy digestive system. It is commonly found in food products such as yogurt and soy products – indeed many companies now promote products specifically on their content of friendly bacteria.
A number of trials into the benefits of Lactobacillus acidophilus appear to indicate its usefulness in the treatment of common vaginal infections such as vaginosis; it is also commonly recognised as being beneficial in the treatment of vomiting and diarrhoea. However, it should be noted that most of the evidence surrounding the health benefits of Lactobacillus acidophilus is anecdotal and not supported by reputable, independent clinical evidence. Different yogurts have different health benefits – whilst all yogurts are made with the lactobacillus bacteria, not all of them containing live strains. Pasteurising generally kills any friendly bacteria present in commercially produced yogurt.
Yogurts containing live Lactobacillus acidophilus are known to aid digestion and are thought to be especially beneficial for those individuals who are lactose intolerant – enabling digestion of lactose without any uncomfortable side effects.
Studies have shown that live yogurt is especially beneficial in treating children and infants with diarrhoea – shortening recovery time by at least half a day.
Lactobacillus acidophilus is known to be beneficial in the treatment of yeast infections and will help prevention of this type of infection when taking antibiotics of any kind. Lactobacillus acidophilus strengthens and boosts the immune system and restores the bodys natural bacterial balance.
Live friendly bacteria, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus is believed to be beneficial in reducing the risk of cardiac disease, lowering of cholesterol and cancers of the digestive system – however, in order to gain the full benefits of this type of bacteria it must be ingested in its live form.
Yogurt is determined to be live if it is known to contain 100 million, or more, live bacterium per gram of product – this is also true for frozen yogurt. Where live yogurt is added to a product that is subsequently heat treated the bacterium will be killed and any benefits lost.
Studies involving cancer patients have revealed the benefits of live yogurt in reducing levels of lactose malabsorption – a known side effect of chemotherapy.
Due to the many perceived benefits of live bacteria many companies are now using a wide variety of these so called friendly bacteria in the production of yogurt. These bacteria are touted as being beneficial to bowel regularity, improve eczema and even decrease the signs of aging. Probiotics are promoted as being universally safe – even for infants.
The genuine product
Some concerns have been raised about the content of some products which promote themselves as containing high levels of friendly bacteria – some products have been found to contain no such bacteria or to have been contaminated with unfriendly bacteria. Consumers should be careful to check labels and buy a reputable brand.
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