Most people know that our digestive systems are packed full of helpful bacteria, from the mouth through to… well, the other end. Their role in the digestive system is to provide a good environment for digestion, to help produce vitamins, to support healthy weight and immune function. Practitioners often recommend them, and sometimes ‘prebiotics’ to support them in the digestive tract.
So what are the common bacterial cultures found in supplements, and what do they do?
Lactobacillus acidophilus: traditionally used for Traveller’s diarrhoea, but now commonly used for all kinds of digestive upset. It not only helps to maintain healthy digestive pH balance, but also helps to find of harmful pathogens and is involved in immune function.
Bifidobacterium bifidum: is one of the Bifidobacterium family found naturally occurring mostly in the lower half of the digestive tract. It is especially good for those whose symptoms include poor bowel transit (such as constipation) or lower gut infections
Lactobacillus casei: is found naturally occurring in the digestive tract, and works along the digestive health, encouraging healthy bowel movements.
Lactococcus lactis: is renowned for its antimicrobial benefits in supporting the body against undesirable bacteria and some fungi.
A bit about prebiotics:
Did you know that fibre can be used to support the growth of bacteria in your digestive system? It feeds beneficial bacteria allowing them to increase in numbers, and encouraging them to break the prebiotic fibre down into useful acids such as acetic and butyric acid which inhibits the growth of disease causing bacteria. As well as this, butryic acid can help maintain a healthy colon.
Look out for them on labels as ‘fructo-oligosaccharides’ (FOS).
Can also be found in:
- Leeks and onions
- Chicory root
- Jerusalem artichoke