Prior to discussing how you can boost digestion with bifidus longum probiotics, let’s first have a look at probiotics in general and why they are so beneficial to us.
Probiotics are also known as microflora, and are beneficial organisms that live in your digestive tract. Not all microorganisms are bad news, and many are essential for good health. Included in these organisms are various types of bacteria and yeasts, each of which has a specific part to play in the proper functioning of your body. Because of this they are found in foods all over the world, including yoghurt and fermented vegetables such as German sauerkraut and Korean kimchi.
Among their major benefits to health are that they help to support your immune system, they aid the digestion and absorption of food, they provide increased energy by improving the metabolic conversion of blood glucose to energy, and they can also help to delay aging. However, you should be aware that not all probiotics are the same, and when used properly some can have the same effect as antibiotics.
They are used to cure many digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhea, and can also help to relieve heartburn and acid reflux. In fact your lower intestine should contain a minimum of 85% friendly bacteria, and 15% at most of unfriendly bacteria that can cause disease if they over-colonize your colon. It might surprise you to learn that you have around twenty times more bacteria in your body than body cells.
One of the best known of the probiotics are members of the lactobacillus family that are contained in yoghurt and curds and whey, so Little Miss Muffet had the right idea. However, you might not have the right idea in eating commercial yoghurt because, while raw yoghurt does contain these helpful bacteria, the type that you buy in pots in the supermarkets has likely been pasteurized – a process that kills off the bacteria. Unless the product has been seeded with live bacteria after pasteurization, then there will likely be none in your yoghurt! Make your own!
So what are the probiotics that do you most good, and in what form should you consume them? The common friendly bacteria are the already mentioned lactobaccilus, and then lactococcus, streptococcus thermophilus, enterococcus, bifidobacterium and others. Bacteria are easily killed off by the acidic conditions in your stomach, and since they must be taken live they should be consumed in a form that can resist the stomach acid.
There are many ways in which they benefit you, the main ones that are currently understood being:
Lactic acid production: the presence of lactic acid in the gut prevents stops or slows the growth of harmful bacteria by increasing the acidity. Some probiotics, known as lactic acid bacteria (LAB) can do this. Most bacteria do not like acidic conditions.
Supporting the immune system: LAB bacteria have been shown to increase the production of cytokines that stimulate the activity of the macrophages that attack foreign viruses and pathogenic bacteria. The LAB also promotes the formation of NK-cells (natural killer cells) that destroy cells that have been infected by viruses.
Adhesion site blockage: bacteria attach themselves to your intestinal walls at specific adhesion sites. Friendly bacteria can colonize these sites and so prevent the pathogens from adhering.
Effect on the Intestinal wall: the intestinal wall has a natural mucous barrier that helps to prevent the passage of allergens and pathogens into the bloodstream through the intestine. Probiotics can strengthen this barrier, and also alter the nature of the mucous to render it less liable to penetration by these unwelcome visitors.
So where does bifidobacteria come into this? There is a number of strains of this bacterium living in the human body, but Bifidus longum is the most common or most abundant of these. Although it is the most common bacterium found in commercially available probiotic products, high numbers have to be consumed for the proper health benefits. However, commercial yoghurts contain very little of this bacterium, or even none at all. This is largely due to the pasteurization previously discussed, that kills the bacteria at high temperatures. Unfortunately this process is not selective, and in ridding the products of bacteria that could make you seriously ill, the beneficial bacteria are also destroyed.
This is a shame because Bifidus longum has been shown to inhibit E.Coli that can cause serious conditions of the digestive system. Among these are severe diarrhea and an inflammatory condition in the colon as the immune system tries to expel these nasty bacteria. This bacterium is particularly dangerous to the weak, such as the aged, children and people already weakened by illness.
It also helps to counteract yeast and other vaginal infections and when taken with other probiotics is believed to help in colon cancer cases. Among its other benefits are its part in the biosynthesis of thiamine, riboflavin and other vitamin B forms in your intestine, and also the absorption and assimilation of these vitamins by your body. It is also believed that it might help to reduce the cholesterol level in your body through its uptake of bile salts from the colon.
The major destructive elements of Bifidus longus are antibiotics of any kind, whether they be penicillin variants or tetracycline, and although the latter is used mainly for infections of the respiratory tract, it is ingested by the gut and effectively reduces the population of the bacteria that are needed for optimum health. That is one of the reasons why antibiotic use should be restricted to only what is necessary, and not use indiscriminately for all infections. Unless administered intravenously or site targeted, antibiotics kill off the good with the bad!
The other activities of Bifidus longus, such as removing the by-products of our metabolism that could be toxic if left to roam our bodies, render this bacterium as useful to your body as any vitamin or mineral supplement you could take. It is a supplement that many either overlook or are not even aware of, yet one that can make a significant difference, not only to your digestive and intestinal health, but also to you general overall wellbeing.