What are probiotics?
Lactobacilli and bifidobacteria are large groups of gram-positive and acid-tolerant bacteria. Lactobacilli, also termed lactic acid bacteria, belong to the phylum Firmicutes. As their name suggests, these bacteria convert sugars into lactic acid. The production of lactate as well as acetate leads to a lower pH in the gastrointestinal tract. Lactobacilli therefore help inhibit the growth of other, potentially harmful bacteria. Some Lactobacillus species even produce hydrogen peroxide, thereby supporting the defense against fungal pathogens.
Bifidobacteria are members of the phylum Actinobacteria. Bifidobacteria also produce the short-chain fatty acids acetate and lactate in our gastrointestinal tract, which supports the defense against pathogens. Some Bifidobacterium species produce vitamins and help convert dietary compounds into bioactive molecules. Bifidobacteria are the most common bacteria in the infant gut. In humans, members of these bacteria are among the most important representatives in the oral cavity, the intestinal flora, and the vaginal flora.
Healthy people tend to have a large number of of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. But the amount of a single strain bacteria is not the only decisive factor. Diversity also plays a role too. The use of certain lactic acid bacteria such as Lactobacillus casei or Lactobacillus acidophilus in probiotics is particularly important for people with impaired intestinal flora (dysbiosis).
Probiotics are living microorganisms, which provide health benefits when ingested in sufficient quantities. Some probiotic bacteria can even be used industrially in the preservation of food and certain skincare products. Some of the most explored strains include the lactobacillus strains L. rhamnosus, L. helveticus, L. acidophilus, L. plantarum, L. casei, L. paracasei, L. brevis and the bifidobacterium strains B. lactis, B. longum, B. bifidum, and B. breve. Parallel to this, however, are pathogenic representatives, including several Streptococcus species, which sometimes cause pneumonia or may contribute to the development of dental cavities. From a morphological point of view, there are almost no similarities between lactic acid bacteria. There are rod-shaped (bacilli) or spherical (cocci) bacteria.**
What is the function of probiotics?
Due to their metabolism, probiotic bacteria are dependent on carbohydrates for energy production, which they utilize during fermentation. Thanks to the lactic acid produced during fermentation, this metabolic process is also known as "lactic acid fermentation" and is sometimes used for the preservation of food. During the lactic acid fermentation process, the formation of lactic acid lowers the pH value in the habitat of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. It almost completely inhibits the multiplication of pathogenic bacteria such as clostridia, listeria, or coliform bacteria. On the other hand, the process helps produce certain foods, including sour milk products like yogurt and kefir, sour vegetables like sauerkraut and Korean kimchi. Even sourdough used in bread baking are results of lactic acid fermentation.**
Probiotic bacteria can have a positive effect on the human body in many ways too. The lactic acid formed creates a slightly acidic milieu in the intestine, which displaces harmful bacteria and other microorganisms such as candida, ensuring a healthy intestinal flora. Probiotic bacteria also form short-chain fatty acids that can be used by the intestinal mucosa cells as a source of energy. This process contributes significantly to the well-being and quick regeneration of the intestinal mucosa. One of probiotic bacteria's most important tasks is in support of digestion. By improving the bioavailability of nutrients, the body can digest and absorb them easily.**
What are the effects of probiotics?
As an essential component of the intestinal flora, lactobacilli and bifidobacteria are involved in vitamin synthesis, provide short-chain fatty acids and, with their metabolic products, also promote intestinal movement, digestion and the absorption of nutrients. A further important aspect of healthy intestinal flora is the inhibition of the multiplication of pathogenic microorganisms. These usually enter the body through food and subsequently disturb the intestinal flora and weaken the immune system. Lactobacilli and bifidobacteria can support the intestinal flora in cases of intestinal miscolonization or after intake of antibiotics, while also promoting the barrier function of the intestinal mucosa. However, disturbances of the microbial balance can also affect the vaginal flora and the mucous membranes of the urinary tract. Probiotics can also support microbial balance of vaginal flora and urinary tract.**
In addition to their ability to directly protect against pathogens, lactobacilli and bifidobacteria are also capable of stimulating the intestinal immune system, which among other things, stimulates antibody production.**
Probiotics containing lactobacilli and bifidobacteria are used in a wide variety of applications, some of which are extensive:**
- To support proper digestion
- To support the mucous membrane of the intestine
- To maintain the intestinal flora
- To maintain a healthy gastrointestinal tract
- To support the vaginal flora
- To maintain a healthy urinary tract
- To support immune health
Side Effects/ Interactions/ Contraindications
Probiotic bacteria can cause digestive problems to sensitive people at the beginning of the intake. However, these mild side effects usually subside after a few days or weeks when the body gets used to them. Excessive use can cause symptoms such as flatulence, diarrhea, and confusion.
When taking medication like antibiotics, for example, a time interval of 2-3 hours between taking medication and probiotics is recommended to avoid potential interaction.
To the best of our knowledge, no contraindications are known.
In the various fields of application, it is recommended to ingest 10 billion reproductive germs per day.
**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.