IMPORTANT INTESTINAL BACTERIA AND HEALTH
The normal intestinal flora includes diverse groups of microorganisms, encompassing over 500 species of bacteria, with lactic acid producing microorganisms constituting an integral part of the healthy gastrointestinal ecology. Important intestinal bacteria for humans include:
Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium animalis (formerly B. infantis), Streptococcus thermophilus, Bifidobacterium breve, Lactobacillus salivarius, Lactobacillus plantarum, Bacillus coagulans and Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1.
Numerous research studies have shown that dietary and supplementary ingestion of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria play an important nutritional and immune enhancing role, aiding in:
- Creation of an environment that is favorable for beneficial microbial balance—of vital importance during or after the use of medications (antibiotics, sulfa drugs, chemotherapy, etc.).
- Hydrolysis and digestion of carbohydrates, including lactose, thus assisting with the problem of lactose intolerance.
- Hydrolysis of fats and proteins, while rendering their toxic by-products inert.
- Fermentation of soluble fiber, which yields short chain fatty acids, supplying 5 to 10 percent of human energy needs.
- Metabolism or action in recycling hormones, including estrogens.
- Bioavailability of calcium.
- Production of enzymes and B vitamins—the synthesis of at least seven essential nutrients (supplementing dietary intake) : folic acid, riboflavin, biotin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, cobalamin and vitamin K.
- Intestinal peristalsis and normalized, regular bowel movements.
- Prevention of diarrhea and other intestinal disorders, by inhibiting the proliferation and actions of putrefactive microbes and pathogenic bacteria in many ways: (1) Creating a protective barrier against the invasion of harmful microorganisms by colonizing and coating the intestinal mucosa; (2) Competing with undesirable organisms for nutrients; (3) Production of lactic acid and short chain fatty acids; (4) Production of natural, endogenous antibiotic substances (acidophillin, bifidin, hydrogen peroxide, etc.): (5) Potential to reduce oxidation; (6) Deconjugation of bile acids; and (7) Degradation of bacterial toxins.
- Stimulation of immunologic activity of the spleen and thymus, increasing IgG production and improved intestinal production of secretory antibody IgA.
Found throughout the gastrointestinal tract, including the mouth and vaginal tract of humans, as well as the gastrointestinal tract of animals—bifidobacteria constitute a major part of the fecal flora of healthy humans.
Bifidobacteria consist of a number of different species, four of the most important being B. bifidum, B. longum, B. animalis (formerly B. infantis), and B. breve. From birth, these vital bifidobacteria play a crucial role in human health.
When a baby is born, the intestines are virtually sterile, free of microorganisms. Immediately, something like a wild west land grab ensues as friendly and harmful bacteria alike vie for territory and dominance. Between the fourth and seventh day among breast-fed babies, bifidobacteria normally outdo the rest of the field. Researchers now realize that one of the chief reasons breast-fed babies get markedly fewer infections than formula-fed babies is that mother’s milk tends to promote superior growth of bifidobacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, whereas non-breast milk, infant formulas have little such beneficial effect. These highly beneficial bifidobacteria are the predominant organisms in the stools of breast-fed infants, and account for about 99 percent of the micro-flora in the large intestine and a lesser amount in the lower part of the small intestine. In adolescents and adults, bifidobacteria should constitute a major part of the large intestine’s micro-flora. These microorganisms produce high degrees of essential by-products in the intestines, which act as a barrier to the growth of dangerous pathogenic microbes that cause infection and disease and they can aid in:
- Production of acetic and lactic acid, with small amounts of formic acid from fermentable carbohydrates, which increase and balance the acidity of the large intestine and lower part of the small intestine—thereby, inhibiting toxic bacteria and ammonia production from illnesses such as chronic liver disease.
- Inhibition of bacteria which can alter or convert nitrates in the intestine (derived from food or water) into potentially harmful nitrites.
- Alleviation or prevention of intestinal disorders following antibiotic therapy.
- Dietary management of liver conditions.
- Production of B vitamins and correction of vitamin K deficiency.
- Self-cleaning of the intestine—reduction of intestinal putrefaction and control of enteric infection of infants.
- Nutrition, nitrogen retention and weight gain in infants.
- Reestablishment and maintenance of healthy vaginal flora.
- Beneficial effects in cases of leukemic patients.
Unfortunately, the levels of beneficial bifidobacteria appear to decline dramatically as the human body ages. Some researchers believe this steep decline is due chiefly to gradual disruptions and changes in the acid/alkaline balance of the bowels, which tend to favor the growth of harmful viral and fungal organisms as well as putrefactive, disease-causing bacteria, and disfavor the growth of beneficial bifidobacteria. Many researchers now believe that declining levels of bifidobacteria in the intestinal tract may actually mark the eventual onset of chronic degenerative disease. These declines brought on by aging make supplementation with beneficial microorganisms all the more crucial.
Furthermore, these vital bifidobacteria may help detoxify the human system and remove numerous harmful substances. According to David B. Hughes and Dallas G. Hoover of the University of Delaware, bifidobacteria have the ability to eliminate substances which can lead to the development of cancer.
Bifidobacteria may also prevent potential toxicity from nitrates and nitrosamines in food and can kill or control E. coli, staphylococcus aureus (causes toxic shock syndrome) and shigella. In addition, they help to recycle estrogen (a female hormone) which assists in reducing the symptoms of menopause, including osteoporosis.
Japanese research has recently shown that these beneficial microorganisms are substantial producers of important B vitamins. The production of these B vitamins is of special importance today, especially where a large number of adult Americans lack needed levels of these nutrients. According to recent medical data, without adequate levels of B vitamins—especially B6 and B12—the human body has a difficult time converting high levels of the atherosclerosis-promoting compound homocysteine into harmless cystathionine, which may result in a more rapid onset of hardening of the arteries. Proper levels of these essential B vitamins may help as a preventative to arteriosclerosis. It is also of vital necessity to maintain adequate levels of B-12 in order to sustain peak mental agility and physical vigor as we age.
Many of the problems associated with aging—mental fatigue, depression, low energy levels, upper respiratory problems, and more—have been linked to decreasing levels of B-12. Some researchers suggest that supplementing the body with a healthy population of bifidobacteria may be extremely helpful in maintaining adequate levels of these important health-enhancing and disease-preventing B vitamins.
Bifidobacteria produce favorable L(+) lactic acid.
Well documented and established as a normal, beneficial inhabitant of the small intestine (lower portion) and large intestine—Lactobacillus acidophilus is found in the intestines, mouth and vagina of humans and in the intestines of animals.
Lactobacillus acidophilus is the organism most readily utilized in intestinal bacteria therapy, and is among the species of lactobacilli that are recognized as effective agents in the protection of the genitourinary system.
The major beneficial functions of L. acidophilus strains include:
- The promotion of a mildly acid reaction, which stimulates peristalsis and a favorable
- Production of a type of lactic acid, which has a bacteriostatic affect on many
- Production of natural antibiotic substances that are antagonistic to many toxic enteric organisms.
- Relief of gastrointestinal discomfort by diarrhea, constipation, flatulence, colitis, pruritis, enteritis and bloating.
- Adjunct therapy in the relief of thrush, canker sores, cold sores (herpes lesions), vaginitis, halitosis and acne.
- Assists in the digestion of nutrients and in the production of lactase, the enzyme that enhances the digestion of milk sugar (lactose).
- Potential aid in the reduction of undesirable cholesterol levels.
- General protection against an imbalance of the intestinal micro-flora.
Scientists are now discovering even more amazing qualities possessed by this famous resident microorganism. For example, Dr. Morton Walker, in his recent book “Secrets of Long Life”, reports that L. acidophilus has now been shown to produce, at least, four powerful anti-microbial compounds, including acidolin, acidolphilin, lactocidin, and bacteriocin. Each of these compounds has demonstrated formidable neutralizing effects against serious disease-causing microbes such as campylobacter, listeria, staphylococci, and a long list of others. Moreover, Elieen Hilton, an infectious disease specialist at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York, has recently demonstrated the phenomenal disease-preventing effects of this amazing beneficial microorganism on women who had previously suffered with chronic vaginal yeast infections.
Ongoing research being conducted by the University of Nebraska and reported by renowned probiotic research expert Dr. Khem Shahani, Professor, Department of Food Science and Technology, has shown that the powerful DDS-1 strain of L. acidophilus, known as the “Cadillac” strain, is not only able to reduce cholesterol levels, but is also able to inhibit the growth and toxin-producing capabilities of 23 known disease-causing pathogens, as well as reduce tumor growth and effectively neutralize or inhibit carcinogenic substances in laboratory studies. Additionally, according to Professor Shahani, “Selected and specially grown strains of L. acidophilus have shown both antifungal and antiviral activity. Consequently, acidophilus can retard the proliferation of vaginitis, as well as flu or herpes.
Lactobacillus acidophilus produces DL-lactic acid.
Lactobacillus casei is a beneficial, transient bacteria of the human intestines and mouth. It produces lactic acid which helps to lower pH levels in the digestive system, thus hindering the growth of harmful organisms. The combination of L. casei, L. acidophilus and other beneficial bacteria can aid in decreasing antibiotic related diarrhea, and clostridium difficile infections in adults and It can reduce the severity of rotavirus in children. Many gastrointestinal symptoms, including irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), Crohn’s disease and constipation have been helped or alleviated with the use of L. casei. It can also aid in improving and promoting digestion and help to reduce lactose intolerance along with strengthening the immune system.
A normal inhabitant of the vaginal and digestive tract of humans and animals, Lacto-bacillus rhamnosus has demonstrated immune enhancing qualities of special interest. Dietary intake of Lactobacillus rhamnosus can be especially beneficial for infants and for the elderly. This species of lactobacilli has been found to quickly colonize, acidify and protect the small and the large intestine against toxins, while creating the anaerobic conditions that are conducive to the beneficial implantation of bifidobacteria.
Administration of the lactic bacteria is being used on a large scale for the prevention or inhibition of uropathogenic bacteria, with studies being conducted on the use of L. rhamnosus in regards to the prevention of recurrent urinary tract infections.
“Bacillus doderlein” has, for decades, been identified or designated as the species of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli that comprise normal vaginal flora. L. rhamnosus and L. acidophilus are among a number of lactobacilli that have been identified in this category. These indigenous vaginal lactic flora inhibit the growth of uropathogens, such as: Candida albicans, escherichia coli, hemophilus vaginalis, and trichomonas vaginalis. Lactobacillus rhamnosus may be considered as one of the more important lactobacilli—it has been shown, for example, to have many advantages over Lactobacillus acidophilus, including:
- Digestion of a greater number of carbohydrates.
- More resistance to bile salts, thus insuring its survival during the process of digestion.
- Better survival to freeze-drying and a longer shelf life.
According to noted Canadian bacteriologist, Edward Brochu, L. rhamnosus exhibits a number of fascinating immunological properties. For example, in animal studies it has been demonstrated to increase the natural killing activity of spleen cells, which may help to prevent tumor formation. It also demonstrated an increased resistance to listeria monocytogenes—the disease-causing bacteria associated with encephalitis. Even more laboratory studies have shown L. rhamnosus to boost phagocytic activity (I.e., the destruction of foreign invaders and other harmful matter by phagocytes) by three times normal activity. Circulating antibodies have been shown to increase by six to eight times their normal levels after introduction of L. rhamnosus. L. rhamnosus may also help the body resist microbial infections by increasing levels of immunoglobulins and directly activating macrophages. Researcher Brochu, of the Institute of Rosell of Montreal, Canada, concludes one report by saying: “L. rhamnosus may be considered as one of the most important lactobacilli, if not the best.”Lactobacillus rhamnosus produces L(+) lactic acid, which is biologically superior to DL lactic acid (produced by L. acidophilus).
A unique strain of a specialized hypo-allergenic super culture, Lactobacillus salivarius is a potent and friendly gastrointestinal flora. L. salivarius is normally present in the mouth and digestive tract of humans and hamsters and in the intestinal tract of the hen.
Ingestion of Lactobacillus salivarius helps to increase energy by making food nutrients readily available to the body; undigested proteins and their by-products are broken down, while neutralizing putrefactive pathogens. L. salivarius aids in maintaining the homeostasis of the digestive tract and colon, and in improving the body’s ecological balance.
It has been reported that symptoms of food poisoning have been relieved within 30 to 60 minutes after the ingestion of L. salivarius.
Lactobacillus salivarius is a gram positive, L(+) lactic acid producer.
Streptococcus thermophilus, a bacteria found in yogurt, is a transient microorganism which also produces a number of antibiotic-like substances as part of its metabolic process, aiding the body in its ongoing fight against disease-causing microbes. Perhaps more importantly, S. thermophilus also helps to suppress tumor development and growth in laboratory studies. Moreover, S. thermophilus produces substantial quantities of lactase, the enzyme that aids in the digestion of milk sugars, which may provide an effective remedy against lactose intolerance (a condition afflicting nearly two-thirds of the world’s population). It has also been used in hospitals as an effective remedy for chronic diarrhea in infants.
Lactobacillus plantarum has an unusual ability to rapidly digest protein and liquefy gelatin. Japanese researchers reported in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology that L. plantarum has proven useful for the prevention and treatment of food allergy. It also performs a key function in the regulation of gut inflammation and immunity, according to researcher S. Bengmark, MD, from Lund University in Lund, Sweden. He further states that L. plantarum has the ability to preserve vital nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids for usage by the body. Astronauts returning to earth have a significantly reduced ecoflora in which L. plantarum is totally eliminated, both in saliva and stool, accompanied by increased toxic bacteria. These alterations are attributed to a com-bination of stress and the fiber-reduced diet consumed by the astronauts, not unlike the diets of many Americans today.
In another study from Lund University reported in the medical journal Gastroenterology it was found that L. Plantarum decreased overall pathogenic bacterial counts and actually increased Lactobacillus population in the GI tracts of animals whose intestinal microflora was disrupted through the use of chemotherapy, causing “drug-induced enterocolitis.” The secretion of salivary and GI mucus is often significantly reduced through disease and the use of pharmaceuticals.
L. plantarum, which has no difficulty in surviving the acidity of the stomach and the bile acid content of the small intestine, actually plays an important role in stimulating gut immunity by colonizing and restoring the intestinal mucosa. One of the important roles of this mucosal lining is to prevent the GI tract contents—containing potentially pathogenic microorganisms—from leaking into the bloodstream.
A study done at the Regional Center for Atherosclerosis Research, Pomeranian Academy of Medicine in Szezecon, Poland and reported in the journal Atherosclerosis, demonstrated that L. plantarum added to the diets of subjects with moderately elevated cholesterol, showed a reduction of LDL cholesterol levels and a decrease of proteins in the blood which cause thrombosis or embolism.
Bacillus coagulans (also known as Lactobacillus Sporogenes)
Recent scientific research points to the superiority of Lactobacillus sporogenes (also known as Bacillus coagulans), a spore-forming, non-pathogenic, gram-positive, aerobic lactobacillus with a high production rate of L. positive lactic acid. Its unique spore forming ability makes it resistant to heat, gastric acidity, bile, harmful chemicals, radiation and antibiotics. These survival mechanisms enable Bacillus coagulans to remain viable for long periods of time without refrigeration –unlike anaerobic, non-spore forming lactobacilli, such as Acidophilus. In addition, the rapid colonization and proliferation of Bacillus coagulans enables it to control the growth of infectious organisms in the intestines much more rapidly than do the non-spore producing lactobacilli.
The hypothesis that, implantation of these non-pathogenic, normal flora, in large numbers, could be an effective and safe method of treating patients with primary hyperlipidemia, was put to the test at the Department of Cardiology, G.B. Pant Hospital, New Delhi, India. A total of 20 patients were enrolled in the pilot clinical trial. The results of this preliminary study showed that at the end of the three month trial period, a highly significant reduction in total LDL cholesterol levels and a small but significant increase in HDL cholesterol levels were recorded. Atherogenic lipid ratios were also decreased following the oral administration of Bacillus coagulans. No change in serum triglycerides were noted.
Spore-forming bacilli influence the activity of enzymes involved in bile deconjugation and in cholesterol synthesis. Bacillus coagulans helps to decrease intestinal absorption of cholesterol by reducing the amount of bile salts in the gut. It is also supportive therapy for uticaria, eczema, and strophulus infantum and as an important adjunct during and after antibiotic and chemotherapy, as well as being an intestinal aid for: putrefaction, autointoxication, dyspepsia, anorexia, vomiting, flatulence, green stools, and white diarrhea (Pseudocholera infantum).
The classic use of antibiotics and Chemotherapeutics seems to have reached Limitations, in light of the chronic and persistent infections that plague mankind. In contrast, plant extracts and special preparations of bacteria that are recognized for their ability to stimulate and enhance the immune system, are now being used more intensively in conditions that are resistant to “standard therapy”.
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