Probiotics: It's a Team Effort - Part 3
Meet the Bifidobacterium Team
Lactos and Bifidos are a bit like football’s offensive and defensive lines and positions — different, but united in accomplishing the same goal. In Part 2 of this series we were introduced to the Lactobacillus side of our microbiome, “Team Symbion.” Now let’s meet the Bifidobacteria lineup. (See Part 1.)
Bifidobacteria, in general, are found in the digestive tract, particularly the large intestine, the vagina and the mouth. They make up about 90% of our total microbiome. Bifidos support immunity, metabolism and even mood. They are helpful for such diverse conditions as diarrhea, ulcerative colitis and pouchitis (inflammation of a surgically-created rectum in colectomy patients); colds, flu and yeast infections; hepatitis, mumps and Lyme disease and they can help repopulate the gut after antibiotic use. Like the Lactos, the Bifidos aid digestion, enhance nutrient absorption and help keep detrimental microbes in check. By producing lactic acid, they make their home (our bodies) inhospitable to harmful pathogens.
The Starting Lineup
Bifidobacterium bifidum resides mainly in the colon and vagina. This hard-fighting warrior is effective against a wide range of detrimental organisms including rotavirus, E. coli, Gardnerella vaginalis, H. pylori, Salmonella, C. difficile, Staphylococcus aureus and more. It is useful for diarrhea, flatulence and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms as well as allergic conditions and can reduce the risk of eczema in infants whose mothers use it while pregnant. In addition, B. bifidum helps to lower markers for inflammation and increases lymphocyte production. Since the Bifido population declines as we age (increasing risk of infection) older folks, in particular, may want to supplement B. bifidum.
Bifidobacterium longum inhabits the digestive tract where it can help with lactose intolerance, diarrhea associated with antibiotic use, constipation, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. It also helps to lower LDL cholesterol and inhibits ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme), boosts immunity by increasing IgA antibody production and can minimize cold and flu symptoms. Our buddy B. longum has an inhibitory effect on detrimental species of Streptococcus, Enterococcus and Pseudomonas, as well as Candida albicans, Clostridium perfringens, E. coli, Gardnerella vaginalis, C. difficile and Staphylococcus aureus. In addition, it can protect us from the dangers of toxins produced by Salmonella typhimurium and heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs) as well as mutagenic substances in browned/charred food. A smart addition to your tailgate barbeque!
In spite of its name, Bifidobacterium infantis can be found in the intestines of both children and adults. It is useful for indigestion and reflux. B. infantis is effective against E. coli and C. albicans, but its forte is the relief of IBS symptoms, namely cramping, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and bowel urgency. Research on subjects with ulcerative colitis, psoriasis and chronic fatigue syndrome has shown that B. infantis “reduce[s] systemic pro-inflammatory biomarkers in both gastrointestinal and non-gastrointestinal conditions” and “that the immunomodulatory effects of the microbiota in humans are not limited to the mucosal immune system but extend to the systemic immune system.”
The Second String
- Bifidobacteria lactis aids immunity by enhancing antibody production and removal of cellular debris. It is useful against C. albicans and H. pylori and may be helpful for atopic eczema.
- Bifidobacterium breve is found in the colon and vagina where it inhibits E. coli and C. albicans. It is also effective for allergies, antibiotic-related diarrhea and IBS.
We hope you have enjoyed meeting your symbiotic teammates. If you would like to get up close and personal with these remarkable microbes, please stop by the store and we will be happy to help you choose a probiotic that’s right for you.
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