Probiotics are supplements that contain “good bacteria” for the digestive tract. Our digestive tract has trillions of microbes that need to be in the right balance to support healthy digestion, immunity and development. Some microbes in the gut are good and some are harmful.
The environment is called the MICROBIOME. Our microbiome is the result generations and generations of interaction with food as well as the process of birthing children. Good bacteria in the digestive tract regulated inflammation, fight off microbial invaders, convert vitamins to their active form, help to breakdown food and much more. The good bacteria in our gut help to prevent eczema, allergies, asthma and to help protect against long term disease development.
I can’t begin to express how important it is to have a healthy MICROBIOME! An imbalanced digestive tract puts kids and adults at risk for:
- digestive issues
- cradle cap
- hormonal issues because the gut helps detoxify hormones
- frequent infections
A child’s digestive tract is populated at first by the microbes in their mother’s vaginal tract. So, children who are born via C-seciton need to have their digestive tracts carefully re-populated with good bacteria. Breastfeeding is also a very important way to populate the gut with good flora and to ensure a healthy digestive tract. Read more in the breastfeeding section of this website.
Here is a list of some commonly used probiotic strains and the benefit of supplementing. Remember that this website is intended for information purposes only and the information shouldn’t be used to treat you or your child without medical supervision.
Culturelle: Lactobacillus GG
Culturelle is the only probiotic supplement containing Lactobacillus GG. In 1985, Drs. Sherwood Gorbach and Barry Golden isolated a new strain of Lactobacillus that appears to be ideal for use in humans. The strain, named Lactobacillus GG (after the surnames of its inventors), is resistant to stomach acid and bile, allowing it to survive its passage through the digestive tract and reach the large intestine intact. Once there it shows an exceptional ability to adhere to the intestinal mucosa and proliferate. There is substantial research done on this probiotic which sells under the names Culturelle and Lactobacillus GG
Bifidobacterium bifidum (lactis)
B. bifidum is a prominent probiotic mioroorganism that takes up residence primarily in the mucous membrane lining of the large intestines and the vaginal tract. B. bifidum prevents the colonization of invading pathogenic bacteria by attaching to the intestinal wall, crowding out and taking nutrients from these unfriendly bacteria and yeast. B. bifidum produces lactic and acetic acids, which lower the intestinal pH and further inhibit the undesirable bacteria from growing. Research on Bifidobacteria has established that these organisms enhance the assimilation of minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc.
Bifidobacterium infantis is an important organism shown to stimulate production of immunomodulating agents such as cytokines. Bacteriocidal activity is also observed against such pathogens as Clostridia, Salmonella, and Shigella.
Bifidobacterium longum is a very abundant organism found in the large intestine. It plays a role in preventing the colonization of invading pathogenic bacteria by attaching to the intestinal wall and crowding out unfriendly bacteria and yeast. Along with other microorganisms, it produces lactic and acetic acids that lower the intestinal pH and
further inhibit the undesirable bacteria. B. longum has, in clinical studies, been found to reduce the frequency of gastrointestinal disorders (diarrhea, nausea, etc.) during antibiotic use.
E. faecium has been shown to be important in the nutritional support of diarrheal diseases, especially in cases where pathogenic microbes, such as rotavirus, invade the bowel. This particular organism only transiently colonizes the GI tract. A recent study indicated that an E. faecium-containing yogurt was able to significantly lower LDL cholesterol. E. faecium is safe, and has been researched extensively by the World Health Organization. This probiotic has become so popular with health professionals over the years because of the proven therapeutic value of E. faecium. This species shows strong activity against a variety of pathogenic organisms. In several studies it has proven resistant to a wide variety of antibiotics and, in one study, proved more effective than L. acidophilus in shortening the duration of diarrheal episodes. E. faecium is a natural resident of the human intestinal tract.
L. acidophilus is one of the most important microorganisms found in the small intestines. It is known to implant itself on the intestinal wall, and in the lining of the wall of the vagina, cervix, and urethra. It performs many critical functions including inhibiting pathogenic organisms and preventing them from multiplying and colonizing.
It is well documented that L. acidophilus produces natural antibiotics like lactocidin, acidophilin, etc., which enhances resistance or immunity. L. acidophilus has known antimicrobial activity against Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, E.coli and Candida albicans.
Lactobacillus brevis is a lactic acid producing organism important in the synthesis of vitamins D and K.
Lactobacillus bulgaricus is considered a transient microorganism that does not implant in the intestinal tract, but still provides an important protective role. This organism is used extensively in the commercial fermentation of yogurt. Production of lactic acid by the bacterium provides a favorable environment for the growth of other lactobacilli and bifidobacteria residing in the intestine. Studies indicate that certain strains of L. bulgaricus stimulate production of interferon and tumor necrosis factor, thus establishing a potential role in modulating the immune system.
Lactobacillus casei is closely related to the L. rhamnosus and L. acidophilus strains with some of the same immuno-modulating effects as other Lactobacilli. L. casei has several health-promoting effects provided through the production of bacteriocins, compounds that inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the small intestine. It has a few subspecies which may be written as just L. casei or one of the following:
Lactobacillus casei subspecies casei
Lactobacillus casei, subspecies paracasei
Lactobacillus casei, subspecies rhamnosus
Lactobacillus plantarum secretes the naturally occurring antibiotic lactolin, and is also known to have the ability to synthesize the amino acid L-lysine, which has beneficial anti-viral activities. L. plantarum also produces glycolytic enzymes shown to degrade cyanogenic glycosides and is effective in eliminating nitrate while producing nitric oxide. This probiotic can preserve key nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants, eliminate toxic components from food, and eradicate pathogens such as S. aureus from fermented food. L. plantarum-fermented oat given to healthy volunteers significantly reduced a number of potential pathogens in the gut.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus (casei)
Lactobacillus rhamnosus is primarily found in the small bowel and vaginal tract and is beneficial in inhibiting those bacteria involved in vaginal and urinary tract infections. L. rhamnosus is very prolific in growth, has a high tolerance (resistance) to bile salts, adheres to the intestinal mucosa, and protects the intestinal tract against the invasion of harmful microorganisms. Additionally, this organism favorably affects lactose intolerance. A recent double- blinded, placebo-controlled study suggests that this probiotic bacteria may down-regulate hypersensitivity reactions and intestinal inflammation in patients with atopic eczema and food allergies. L. rhamnosus has been found to have significant benefits in the nutrition and well-being of infants and in the elderly. According to research with this strain, administration of L. rhamnosus is most helpful in inhibiting early intestinal infections in infants. This species of Lactobacillus does not only colonize, acidify and protect the small intestine, but it can quickly establish itself in the large intestine, inhibit the growth of streptococci and clostridia, create anaerobic conditions which favor the implantation of bifidobacteria, and produce biologically desirable lactic acid.
Lactobacillus salivarius is important in normalizing the gut flora of those dealing with chronic bowel conditions and shows potential as an effective inhibitor of H. pylori, an organism associated with the occurrence of ulcers.
Streptococcus thermophilus, in combination with L. bulgaricus, is used commercially to produce yogurt. This organism is known to be efficient in breaking down lactose by producing the enzyme lactase. Those who are lactose-intolerant may be greatly helped by supplementation with this particular strain. Cytokine production is stimulated in tissue cultured cells by this bacterium.