Lactobacillus Acidophilus (Lactose Free)
What Is Lactobacillus Acidophilus (Lactose Free)?
Probiotics are becoming popular food supplements.
Interestingly, each probiotic can have different effects on your body.
Lactobacillus acidophilus is one of the most common types of probiotics and can be found in fermented foods, yogurt and supplements.
What Is Lactobacillus Acidophilus?
Lactobacillus acidophilus is a type of bacteria found in your intestines. It’s a member of the Lactobacillus genus of bacteria, and it plays an important role in human health.
Its name gives an indication of what it produces — lactic acid. It does this by producing an enzyme called lactase. Lactase breaks down lactose, a sugar found in milk, into lactic acid.
Lactobacillus acidophilus is also sometimes referred to as L. acidophilus or simply acidophilu Lactobacilli, particularly L. acidophilus, are often used as probiotics.
Trillions of bacteria and other micro-organisms live in every person’s gut. Research indicates that consuming probiotics can help improve the balance between the beneficial and harmful bacteria that live in the gut. This may help to support digestion as well as provide other health benefits, such as boosting the immune system.
According to the National Cancer Institute, L. acidophilus may also help protect against harmful germs. This is because they create an acidic environment that the germs do not like.
The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “live micro-organisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health beneﬁt on the host”.
Unfortunately, food manufacturers have overused the word “probiotic,” applying it to bacteria that haven’t been scientifically proven to have any specific health benefits.
This has led the European Food Safety Authority to ban the word “probiotic” on all foods in the EU. L. acidophilus has been extensively studied as a probiotic, and evidence has shown that it may provide a number of health benefits. However, there are many different strains of L. acidophilus, and they can each have different effects on your body.
In addition to probiotic supplements, L. acidophilus can be found naturally in a number of fermented foods, including sauerkraut, miso and tempeh. Also, it’s added to other foods like cheese and yogurt as a probiotic.
L. acidophilus is present in a variety of foods and is also widely available as a dietary supplement. Supporters of this probiotic claim it provides a wide range of health benefits, from preventing yeast infections to curing cancer.
As with any health food or supplement, it is important to be a critical consumer. Research does indicate some health benefits from consuming L. acidophilus, but studies do not support every suggested benefit.
Some evidence suggests that L. acidophilus might be beneficial for a range of disorders and conditions, including:
Emerging research suggests that the health of the gut might also have an impact on the brain.
A 2013 study, for instance, found that gut bacteria can influence brain chemistry, suggesting a possible link between gut health and depression. Also, 2016 systematic review indicates that taking probiotics, such as L. acidophilus, may lower the risk of getting depression or even help treat symptoms in people with depression.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
CFS can cause extreme tiredness and make a person feel generally unwell. CFS is a long-term condition that can cause a variety of different symptoms, such as:
extreme tiredness and lethargy
concentration and memory difficulties
muscle or joint pain
feeling generally unwell
Doctors do not fully understand CFS or what causes it. However, some researchers believe that gut health, and specifically gut bacteria, may play a role in its development.
In a 2012 study, researchers induced CFS-like symptoms in rats. The study found that giving the rats L. acidophilus significantly reduced these symptoms.
L. acidophilus helps the body metabolize and break down lactose. Lactose is a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, around 65 percent of adults worldwide find it difficult to digest lactose following infancy. Lactose intolerance can cause intestinal pain, diarrhea, gas, and bloating.
L. acidophilus supplements may help relieve the effects of lactose intolerance by helping the body metabolize lactose. A 2016 study compared taking L. acidophilus supplements with a placebo in people with lactose intolerance. Following 4 weeks of supplementation, people who took L. acidophilus had statistically significant reductions in symptoms of lactose intolerance, such as cramping and vomiting.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
IBS is a long-term digestive disorder that can cause diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and other symptoms. Doctors do not fully understand what causes it, and there is currently no cure.
The gut microbiota is the community of bacteria and other microbes that live in the stomach and intestines. Research is beginning to suggest that problems with the natural balance of the gut microbiota may play a role in the development of IBS.
Several studies reveal that consuming L. acidophilus and other probiotics may improve symptoms of IBS. However, the studies have been small, and researchers do not fully understand the role of gut microbes in IBS.
Overgrowth of Candida, a type of yeast that occurs naturally on the human body, can cause itching and painful skin. Vaginal yeast infections are common, and it can take several days for over-the-counter or prescription remedies to work.
Some people notice that they get yeast infections following treatment with antibiotics. This may be because the drugs kill both good and bad bacteria.
Several studies suggest that probiotics may help prevent vaginal yeast infections and possibly other vaginal infections. For instance, a 2015 study suggests that taking Lactobacillus-containing probiotic supplements in combination with antibiotic and antifungal treatments may improve cure rates in women with yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are types of IBD. They are long-term conditions that cause inflammation in parts of the digestive tract. Symptoms can vary considerably, but typically include diarrhea, cramping, and weight loss.
Some studies suggest that probiotic treatment may help manage these conditions. For instance, a 2013 meta-analysis, which examined the results of 23 randomized controlled trials, found higher rates of symptom-free periods among people with active ulcerative colitis who used probiotics.
Animal studies suggest that consuming probiotics may boost the immune system. A 2015 study, for example, found that adding L. acidophilus to the diet of black swordtail fish supported their immune system in several ways.
The swordtails were less affected by stress, and their gut microbiota was stronger. The probiotic also improved the health of their skin mucus, which provides an important barrier to infections.
Below are 9 ways in which Lactobacillus acidophilus may benefit your health.
1. Help Reduce Cholesterol
High cholesterol levels may increase the risk of heart disease. This is especially true for “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Fortunately, studies suggest that certain probiotics can help reduce cholesterol levels and that L. acidophilus may be more effective than other types of probiotics.
Some of these studies have examined probiotics on their own, while others have used milk drinks fermented by probiotics.
One study found that taking L. acidophilus and another probiotic for six weeks significantly lowered total and LDL cholesterol, but also “good” HDL cholesterol.
A similar six-week study found that L. acidophilus on its own had no effect .
However, there is evidence that combining L. acidophilus with prebiotics, or indigestible carbs that help good bacteria grow, can help increase HDL cholesterol and lower blood sugar.
This has been demonstrated in studies using probiotics and prebiotics, both as supplements and in fermented milk drinks.
Furthermore, a number of other studies have shown that yogurt supplemented with L. acidophilus helped reduce cholesterol levels by up to 7% more than ordinary yogurt.
This suggests that L. acidophilus — not another ingredient in the yogurt — was responsible for the beneficial effect.
2. Prevent and Reduce Diarrhea
Diarrhea affects people for a number of reasons, including bacterial infections.
It can be dangerous if it lasts a long time, as it results in fluid loss and, in some cases, dehydration.
A number of studies have shown that probiotics like L. acidophilus may help prevent and reduce diarrhea that’s associated with various diseases.
Evidence on the ability of L. acidophilus to treat acute diarrhea in children is mixed. Some studies have shown a beneficial effect, while others have shown no effect.
One meta-analysis involving more than 300 children found that L. acidophilus helped reduce diarrhea, but only in hospitalized children.
What’s more, when consumed in combination with another probiotic, L. acidophilus may help reduce diarrhea caused by radiotherapy in adult cancer patients.
Similarly, it may help reduce diarrhea associated with antibiotics and a common infection called Clostridium difficile, or C. diff.
Diarrhea is also common in people who travel to different countries and are exposed to new foods and environments.
A review of 12 studies found that probiotics are effective at preventing traveler’s diarrhea and that Lactobacillus acidophilus, in combination with another probiotic, was most effective at doing so.
3. Improve Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects up to one in five people in certain countries. Its symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating and unusual bowel movements.
While little is known about the cause of IBS, some research suggests it might be caused by certain types of bacteria in the intestines.
Therefore, a number of studies have examined whether probiotics can help improve its symptoms.
In a study in 60 people with functional bowel disorders including IBS, taking a combination of L. acidophilus and another probiotic for one to two months improved bloating.
A similar study found that L. acidophilus alone also reduced abdominal pain in IBS patients.
On the other hand, a study that examined a mixture of L. acidophilus and other probiotics found that it had no effect IBS symptoms.
This might be explained by another study suggesting that taking a low dose of single-strain probiotics for a short duration may improve IBS symptoms the most.
Specifically, the study indicates that the best way to take probiotics for IBS is to use single-strain probiotics, rather than a mix, for less than eight weeks, as well as a dose of less than 10 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) per day.
However, it’s important to choose a probiotic supplement that has been scientifically proven to benefit IBS.
4. Help Treat and Prevent Vaginal Infections
Vaginosis and vulvovaginal candidiasis are common types of vaginal infections.
There is good evidence that L. acidophilus can help treat and prevent such infections.
Lactobacilli are typically the most common bacteria in the vagina. They produce lactic acid, which prevents the growth of other harmful bacteria.
However, in cases of certain vaginal disorders, other species of bacteria begin to outnumber lactobacilli.
A number of studies have found taking L. acidophilus as a probiotic supplement can prevent and treat vaginal infections by increasing lactobacilli in the vagina.
Nevertheless, other studies have found no effect.
Eating yogurt that contains L. acidophilus may also prevent vaginal infections. Yet, both of the studies that examined this were quite small and would need to be replicated on a larger scale before any conclusions could be made.
5. Promote Weight Loss
The bacteria in your intestines help control food digestion and a number of other bodily processes.
Therefore, they influence your weight.
There is some evidence that probiotics may help you lose weight, especially when multiple species are consumed together. However, the evidence on L. acidophilus alone is unclear.
A recent study that combined the results of 17 human studies and over 60 animal studies found that some lactobacilli species led to weight loss, while others may have contributed to weight gain.
It suggested that L. acidophilus was one of the species that led to weight gain. However, most of the studies were conducted in farm animals, not humans.
Furthermore, some of these older studies used probiotics that were originally thought to be L. acidophilus, but have since been identified as different species.
Therefore, the evidence on L. acidophilus affecting weight is unclear, and more rigorous studies are needed.
6. Help Prevent and Reduce Cold and Flu Symptoms
Healthy bacteria like L. acidophilus can boost the immune system and thus help reduce the risk of viral infections.
In fact, some studies have suggested that probiotics may prevent and improve symptoms of the common cold.
A few of these studies examined how effectively L. acidophilus treated colds in children.
In one study in 326 children, six months of daily L. acidophilus probiotics reduced fever by 53%, coughing by 41%, antibiotic use by 68% and days absent from school by 32%.
The same study found that combining L. acidophilus with another probiotic was even more effective.
A similar study on L. acidophilus and another probiotic also found similar positive results for reducing cold symptoms in children.
7. Help Prevent and Reduce Allergy Symptoms
Allergies are common and can cause symptoms such as a runny nose or itchy eyes.
Fortunately, some evidence suggests that certain probiotics can reduce the symptoms of some allergies.
One study showed that consuming a fermented milk drink containing L. acidophilus improved symptoms of Japanese cedar pollen allergy.
Similarly, taking L. acidophilus for four months reduced nasal swelling and other symptoms in children with perennial allergic rhinitis, a disorder that causes hay fever-like symptoms throughout the year.
A larger study in 47 children found similar results. It showed that taking a combination of L. acidophilus and another probiotic reduced runny nose, nasal blocking and other symptoms of pollen allergy.
Interestingly, the probiotics reduced the amount of an antibody called immunoglobulin A, which is involved in these allergic reactions, in the intestines.
8. Help Prevent and Reduce Symptoms of Eczema
Eczema is a condition in which the skin becomes inflamed, resulting in itchiness and pain. The most common form is called atopic dermatitis.
Evidence suggests that probiotics can reduce the symptoms of this inflammatory condition in both adults and children.
One study found that giving a mix of L. acidophilus and other probiotics to pregnant women and their infants during the first three months of life reduced the prevalence of eczema by 22% by the time the infants reached one year of age.
A similar study found that L. acidophilus, in combination with traditional medical therapy, significantly improved atopic dermatitis symptoms in children.
However, not all studies have shown positive effects. A large study in 231 newborn children given L. acidophilus for the first six months of life found no beneficial effect in cases of atopic dermatosis.
9. It’s Good for Your Gut Health
Your gut is lined with trillions of bacteria that play an important role in your health.
Generally, lactobacilli are very good for gut health.
They produce lactic acid, which may prevent harmful bacteria from colonizing the intestines. They also ensure the lining of the intestines stays intact.
L. acidophilus can increase the amounts of other healthy bacteria in the gut, including other lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria.
It can also increase levels of short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate, which promote gut health.
Another study carefully examined the effects of L. acidophilus on the gut. It found that taking it as a probiotic increased the expression of genes in the intestines that are involved in immune response.
These results suggest that L. acidophilus may support a healthy immune system.
A separate study examined how the combination of L. acidophilus and a prebiotic affected human gut health.
It found that the combined supplement increased the amounts of lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria in the intestines, as well as branched-chain fatty acids, which are an important part of a healthy gut.
L. acidophilus is a probotic bacteria that’s normally found in your intestines and crucial to health.
Due to its ability to produce lactic acid and interact with your immune system, it may help prevent and treat symptoms of various diseases.
In order to increase L. acidophilus in your intestines, eat fermented foods, including those listed above.
Alternatively, L. acidophilus supplements can be beneficial, especially if you suffer from one of the disorders mentioned in this article.
Whether it’s obtained through foods or supplements, L. acidophilus can provide health benefits for everyone.
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