Microorganisms are generally responsible for spreading several infections and diseases, both in human beings and animals. But, a few of them are also ‘friendly’; lactobacillus is one such micro bacterium that resides in our gastrointestinal tract, mouth, and vaginal tract.
Belonging to the group of Gram-positive bacteria, they are responsible for the conversion of lactose into lactic acid in our body; thus preventing the proliferation of a number of harmful bacteria. This bacterium has found wide uses in production of numerous food items like yoghurt, alcohol, cheese, bread, and chocolate. They are categorized as intestinal microflora beneficial for aiding in digestion.
Lactobacillus is generally rod-shaped; though other shapes like spiral and coccus are also prevalent. They mostly thrive anaerobically though aerobic respiration is also noted in a few species. A child acquires them at the time of birth from his/her mother. Apart from human beings, lactobacillus also exists in vegetable products. It reproduces by means of asexual reproduction. They multiply within hours under normal room temperature, though a few varieties require temperature of up to 60 degree Celsius.
Types of Lactobacillus
As its name indicates, acidophilus is an acid-loving bacterium One of the most common types, it survives in gastrointestinal tract by conversion of sugar into lactic acid. It is beneficial for us as its probiotic properties (providing benefits to the body of hosts) as well as ability to survive under moderate body temperature make it one of the useful types of lactobacilli.
There are several health uses which can be attributed to them, the most important being combating diarrhea by maintaining stomach pH level.
The other conditions in which it is found to be useful are hepatic encephalopathy, enterocolitis, and asthma. Those who are intolerant to lactose in their bodies get benefited by conversion into lactic acids. Generally the heavy intake of antibiotics leads to the severe reduction in number of these bacteria; hence physicians often recommend the use of pills containing these microbes.
It survives in our gut and mouth. It is used mainly for industrial purposes, especially dairy production. Like acidophilus, it also aids in lactose digestion.
In addition, it is responsible for fermentation of Cheddar cheese and helps in proliferation of acidophilus.
These form an important part of colon flora in human beings. Like other varieties, they too help in gastrointestinal digestion and reduce the occurrence of allergies. They are also known to counter the effects of carcinogenic activities produced by enzymes. The metabolic activity of bifidus ferments oligosaccharides present in milk.
Besides being an aid to intestinal digestion, the probiotic activity of this bacterium is used in treatment of diarrhea; it inhibits the development of atopic dermatitis. It is often used in yoghurt as a preservative. Its role in countering the cancer forming compounds is also established by researches.
Their ability to reverse damage done to DNA by tumor cells makes them immensely useful in several cancer types. They counter the spread of preneoplastic lesions. Besides cancer-inhibitory properties, lactobacillus is also attributed to have other therapeutic uses. They find their use in cancers of stomach, bladder, and colon.
Lactobacilli are helpful in common cold, acne, high cholesterol levels, hives, constipation, and UTI (Urinary Tract Infections). Children who are fed on medications containing lactobacillus have lower chances of getting lung infections. The species rhamnosus is given to those who acquire infections while traveling.
Pills in the form of Medinova and Gynoflor are given to the patients for about a week. Capsules of lactobacillus rhamnosus are administered for a period of 10 days.
The livestock who are given acidophilus have improved digestion than other animals. It is attributed to the fact that acid lowers the strains of E.coli significantly and reduces the chance of meat getting infected.
The use of lacto has anti-inflammatory response on body. It is useful in aiding metabolisation of vitamins, proteins, and minerals. Lesser known benefits include curing yeast-related infections and Crohn’s disease.
Side Effects of Lactobacillus
Despite of being beneficial for our health, lactobacillus can cause diseases in those whose body immune systems are not strong enough. Their use in combination with some antibiotic is known to decrease their efficiency. In take of medicines that lower body immunity in combination with this bacterial dosage can increase the chance of getting infected by other disease. They are also responsible for the growth of dental caries. Their presences in saliva can cause the spread of caries significantly.
Lactobacillus is useful bacterium that plays a crucial role in our general well-being.