Lactobacillus acidophilus is probably the most well-known probiotic in the world. It’s present in yogurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut and miso.
L. acidophilus works by fermenting sugars into lactic acid. It’s able to survive and develop at low pH levels and grows best at temperatures of around 37 °C – around the same temperature at the human body. Lactobacillus acidophilus is highly acid-resistant and able to withstand the acidic conditions of the stomach.
L. acidophilus is naturally present in the human gastrointestinal tract and mouth. It has numerous strains, many of which have been shown to harbor probiotic properties. These strains are often used in the fermentation of dairy products, usually with Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii. One of the most popular dairy products is acidophilus yogurt.
Those who cannot digest dairy products are still able to get L. acidophilus from kefir.
Lactobacillus acidophilus has numerous health benefits, particularly in the mucosal lining of your small intestine. It’s one of the most-researched probiotic species for treating gut disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s Disease and other forms of dysbiosis.
L. acidophilus also plays a vital role in producing vitamin K, the nutrient required for blood clotting, as well as bone formation and repair. Its main function, however, is in boosting the immune system.
This impressive probiotic is highly beneficial to women in protecting the lining of the vagina and urethra. Here, Lactobacillus acidophilus works to produce lactic and other organic acids, preventing pathogenic organisms from adhering to the cell wall and multiplying. Studies have shown that L. acidophilus can help to both prevent and treat yeast infections of the urinary tract, and provides relief without the side-effects of antibiotics. More importantly, it enhances the immune system against future infections – whereas antibiotics deplete it.
As with many other beneficial microorganisms in the digestive tract, L. acidophilus helps to break down food, produce nutrients and facilitate absorption. It’s also one of the key probiotic bacteria involved in the digestion of dairy products. It does this by producing lactase, the enzyme that breaks down the sugar in milk.
Research has shown that Lactobacillus acidophilus competes against harmful pathogens such as Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Salmonella, Candida albicans (yeast infections and syndromes), and other pathogens such as Shigella, Clostridium, Listeria, and Helicobacter species.
Treating diarrhea is another major benefit of L. acidophilus. It’s been shown to both prevent and reduce the frequency of diarrhea-related illnesses, especially in children. One study showed that L. acidophilus helped to reduce diarrhea in over 300 children with gastroenteritis. It’s also been used to treat diarrhea associated with antibiotic use and even cancer treatment.
For those with Traveler’s diarrhea, L. acidophilus is a must for restoring normal bowel function. It’s also advised to supplement with Lactobacillus acidophilus before travel, in order to reduce the risk of traveler’s diarrhea. This is even more effective when used in combination with another probiotic.
The immunoprotective properties of L. acidophilus also extend to the respiratory system. It helps you to ward infections of the respiratory tract such as bronchitis and sinusitis.