There are two main types of probiotics that you should make sure are in any sort of supplement you are thinking of buying – Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria. You might think that willingly ingesting bacteria is crazy, but a growing body of scientific evidence shows that there are many microbes that can provide major benefits. Here’s some information on the bacteria that should be in your probiotic supplement, as well as the potential health benefits you could enjoy.
Here are a few of the strains of Lactobacillus bacteria that are found in most types of probiotics you’ll find on the market, as well as some of their health benefits:
Lactobacillus acidophilus (L. acidophilus) – If there’s a superstar bacterium, this is it. L. acidophilus is one of the most beneficial bacteria, and it is associated with a lot of different benefits. For example, it helps to reduce cholesterol and produce lactose, and it has also been shown to help the immune system function properly. 1,2,3
1. brevis – Lactobacillus brevis is commonly found in yogurt, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods, just like a lot of other types of probiotics. L. brevis, according to research, may also help boost the immune system.4 Additionally, it may also play a role in helping to make sure your gums stay healthy.5
2. Gasseri – While L. gasseri might be one of the more obscure members of the Lactobacillus family, that doesn’t mean it can’t provide benefits as well. Granted, research into this strain is in its early stages, but results are promising. In one study, for instance, a group of obese adult participants received L. gasseri for three months. According to the results, they lost an average of about 10 percent of their abdominal fat.6 Another study showed that L. gasseri could help reduce pain in women suffering from endometriosis, and yet another study indicates the bacterium could also help reduce cholesterol levels. 7,8
3. Plantarum – This bacterium helps to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria, and also helps the body efficiently synthesize nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals.9 In addition, the strain could help reduce the milder symptoms antibiotic-associated diarrhea, or AAD.10
The Bifidobacterium group of bacteria, which is also found in many types of probiotics, can help the digestive system function properly. B. bifidum, for example, helps break down fibers that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to digest. It also strengthens the walls of the intestines, keeping harmful microbes from penetrating those walls and entering the gastrointestinal tract. Finally, B. bifidum, according to research, may also help boost our immune system.11
longum is another beneficial strain you should make sure is in any types of probiotics you may be considering. This strain also helps to reduce the symptoms associated with antibiotic-associated diarrhea, or AAD.12 Another member of the Bifidobacterium family, B. infantis, is one of the first bacterial strains that develops in the body. It’s essential in breaking down lactic acid in breast milk and may also help the digestive system function properly. In one study, women suffering from irritable bowel syndrome who took supplements containing B. infantis every day for one month showed significant improvements in their symptoms.13
Studies suggest B. breve can help inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth and also fight the candida yeast, which is one of the main contributors to irritable bowel disease.14,15 B. lactis also helps us digest dairy products such as ice cream and milk by breaking down lactose, and it may also help to reduce the symptoms associated with ulcerative colitis.16
It’s important to note that you should always speak with a doctor first before taking any types of probiotics supplements. While they are considered to be safe for people in good overall health, some people who have a compromised immune system or severe intestinal problems may suffer side effects. Stay on the safe side and talk to a medical professional before you buy anything.