Probiotics: It's a Team Effort - Part 2
Meet the Lactobacillus Team
Like a football team with its separate offensive and defensive sides and positions, our symbiotic “team” of probiotics is also multifaceted. We have Lactobacillus organisms and Bifidobacteria (plus some others) throughout our bodies. They are identified by genus, species and, occasionally, strain. For example, Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14. Unlike a football team, however, every member of Team Symbion plays defense and the goal is to protect and nourish the host (that’s us) while simultaneously creating an ideal environment for our microbiome (that’s them). It’s a win-win situation.
Both Lactos and Bifidos can be used to revive the gut and/or urogenital tract following radiation, chemotherapy, prescription antibiotic use or a bout of diarrhea, all of which diminish our beneficial bacteria population. In this newsletter we will present some of our Lactobacillus teammates. (See Part 1.)
The Starting Lineup
Lactobacillus organisms are found primarily in our digestive tract, particularly the small intestine, the mouth and the urogenital tract. The star quarterback of the Lacto side is L. acidophilus, an organism that breaks down lactose (milk sugar). This “good bug” is useful for treating both diarrhea and constipation, flatulence and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It can also be helpful to those with gastric ulcers because of its action against H. pylori, bacteria that attack the stomach lining making the underlying tissues vulnerable to stomach acid. L. acidophilus is a special friend to women because it contributes to the wellbeing of the vagina, cervix and uterus. In addition, it suppresses Candida albicans, Trichamonas vaginalis, and E. coli, all of which can cause urinary tract and other infections in both men and women. Also, L. acidophilus fights viruses and parasites directly and aids immune function by stimulating production of antibodies, endogenous antibiotics and lactic acid. These amazing microbes also produce vitamin K and increase iron absorption. Conditions for which L. acidophilus may be helpful are quite varied: mouth ulcers, allergies, itching, atopic eczema, colds, flu, chronic fatigue syndrome, herpes simplex 1 and insulin resistance. L. acidophilus may help prevent opportunistic infections associated with AIDS and, according to research published in World Journal of Gastroenterology, “inhibit initiation or progression of carcinogenesis” in colon cancer cells.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus (aka Lactobacillus GG) is acid-resistant and highly bioavailable with actions similar to L. acidophilus. It is useful for stomach flu, colitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s, gastric ulcers, IBS, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and diarrhea, especially when rotavirus is the cause. It may also protect the gastric mucosa from damage due to alcohol and it helps to reverse intestinal permeability. Outside the digestive tract, L. rhamnosus is helpful for UTIs and vaginal infections, food allergies, flu, atopic dermatitis and rheumatoid arthritis. It can reduce damage from aflatoxin and decrease C-reactive protein (CRP) levels. Some research suggests it may help those with cystic fibrosis by preventing lung exacerbations. L. rhamnosus is effective against harmful E. coli, Gardnerella vaginalis, Candida albicans, H. pylori and Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) plus it hastens the removal of detrimental bacteria from our bodies.
Lactobacillus casei is found in the small intestine and also has benefits similar to those of L. acidophilus. This acid-resistant organism is especially beneficial for digestive conditions like celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, traveller’s diarrhea , dysentery and constipation. L. casei may also be helpful for those suffering from IgE allergic responses and rheumatoid arthritis plus it may minimize lung damage caused by Streptococcus pneumonia. In addition, it is effective against E. coli, Salmonella enteritidis, Giardia, MRSA and other pathogens. It also helps increase immune function, lower blood pressure and it can diminish the toxicity of heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs) present in charred meat. Bring some to your next tailgate barbeque!
Lactobacillus reuteri, found in the mouth and G.I. tract, is effective against Streptococcus mutans, which contributes to tooth decay. In the backfield, so to speak, it can be helpful for constipation, colitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s, gastroenteritis and diarrhea caused by rotavirus. Additionally, it is useful for atopic eczema, colds and Gardnerella vaginalis, an organism implicated in in bacterial vaginosis.
Lactobacillus plantarum resides in the mouth and G.I. tract. It can be used to alleviate constipation, colitis, ulcerative colitis, leaky gut, IBS and SIBO as well as hay fever and other allergies, colds and flu. In addition, it can help AIDS patients defend against opportunistic infections. L. plantarum also fights E. coli, lowers blood pressure and LDL cholesterol and can improve liver function in people with damaged livers.
The Second String
- Lactobacillus brevis inhabits the mouth and G.I. tract. It is anti-inflammatory, increases production of interferon alpha and lactobrevin, a bacteriocin (endogenous antibiotic).
- Lactobacillus fermentum is useful against C. albacans, E. coli, H. pylori and Salmonella species. It also can enhance the function of the flu vaccine.
- Lactobacillus salivarius inhabits the mouth and small intestine. It is useful for treating halitosis, colitis and asthma and is especially effective against Listeria monocytogenes, a source of food poisoning.
- Lactobacillus paracasei can bring relief to those suffering from diarrhea, IBS, colds, allergic rhinitis and Listeria monocytogenes infections.
At Evergreen Nutrition we have a wide selection of probiotic supplements, some of which, like the Dr. Formulated line, come packed with prebiotic fiber to feed our probiotic buddies — like a microbiotic tailgating party.
Be sure to stay tuned for Part Three in which we will meet the Bifidos.
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