Acidophilus (Lactobacillus acidophilus)
Acidophilus is known as a probiotic and is part of a group of beneficial intestinal bacteria called lactobacilli. L. acidophilus is present in the intestines at birth and is eventually joined by another well known bacteria called L. bifidus. Both are highly beneficial to the proper function of the intestine and to overall health and may be the most important bacteria of over 400 species in the digestive tract. It helps maintain a norbal balance of health flora (bacteria). This form of "healthy" bacteria is beneficial to the human digestive tract so that it may continue optimal functioning and may also play an important role in supporting immune system function.
Acidophilus is the friendly bacteria which prevail in our intestine and keeps the harmful bacteria in check. Excessive use of antibiotics and drugs, chlorinated water, junk and processed foods reduce the number of friendly bacteria in our intestine. This paves the way for harmful bacteria to increase in number and cause diseases. Acidophilus can reduce the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, a chronic inflammation of the intestines. Along with a high-fiber diet, acidophilus contributes to overall colon health, which is necessary to help avert diverticulosis, a disorder in which the mucous lining of the colon bulges into the colon wall and creates small sacs (diverticula). Acidophilus may also relieve diarrhea triggered by irritable bowel syndrome and replenish beneficial intestinal microorganisms that diarrhea flushes out of the body.
Organic compounds produced by Acidophilus include acetic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and lactic acid. These chemical elements are responsible for increasing the acidity of the intestine and for fighting disease causing bacteria. Acidophilus is also involved in the production of B vitamins such as folic acid and niacin during the digestive process. Natural antibiotics called bacteriocins are also manufactured. These compounds are essential in the body’s fight against infectious bacteria. Lactic acid-producing microorganisms, such as L. acidophilus, have been called a "second immune system" because they put the brakes on growth of disease-causing bacteria, such as salmonella and shigella-caused dysentery, various types of diarrhea, and even virus-caused flu. Yogurt with acidophilus culture and acidophilus on its own has been shown to clear up yeast infections and vaginitis in children and adults. Acidophilus supplements usually work quickly and effectively because they contain as many as one billion individual friendly bacteria per gram. For those who cannot use milk products, acidophilus is available from carrots, soybeans, rice starch, garbanzo beans and other sources.
Many people take acidophilus to treat and prevent digestive disorders, vaginal infections, and other illnesses. As it boosts benign and suppresses destructive bacteria, acidophilus allows the body to maintain a healthy bacterial balance. Acidophilus is often recommended as a safeguard during antibiotic therapy, which can suppress beneficial bacteria and trigger the growth of yeast infections. Acidophilus may offer general health protection, as well. Several studies suggest that it functions as an immunity enhancer, and may suppress the toxic effects of carcinogens (cancer-causing agents). Acidophilus may bring relief to many people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a constellation of gastrointestinal symptoms that include abdominal bloating, cramping, and diarrhea. If your diarrhea is due to antibiotic use, acidophilus will help to correct the bacterial imbalances caused by the drug. In fact, if you are prone to antibiotic-associated diarrhea, it's probably a good idea to start both the acidophilus and medication at the same time. It may be wise to take acidophilus along on your next trip to the tropics, as well. Some strains of traveler's diarrhea may be weakened by acidophilus, perhaps because the immune-boosting effects of probiotics help to reduce intestinal inflammation. As it restores a healthy balance of bacteria in the digestive tract, acidophilus can keep gas-producers in the large intestine from multiplying. Increasing the gut's level of good bacteria relieves flatulence while lessening gas and bloating. A yeast that normally lives in harmony in your body, Candida albicans can begin to overgrow following antibiotic therapy. Chronic candidiasis such as this can produce digestive disturbances, fatigue, and allergies, among other symptoms. Because they promote a healthy intestinal environment, acidophilus and other probiotics can help to halt Candida overgrowth. Using antibiotics only when truly necessary will also help you avoid the problem of Candida infection. Lactobacilli such as acidophilus are the dominant members of healthy bacterial life in the urinary tract. Studies have shown that as "bacteriocins" or antibiotic-like substances, they are powerful enough to neutralize Escherichia (E.) coli bacteria, the source of many urinary tract infections.