For now, the Paris food company Group DANONE has taken the lead in turning probiotics into big bucks. Activia, their latest big thing, has a bacteria called bifidus animalus as its key ingredient.
It is able to pass through the stomach without getting zapped by the hydrochloric acid bath. Then it moves into the intestine where it teams up with other microorganisms to push fecal matter through the colon.
From that description, it should be no surprise that Activia is marketed as an aid to regularity.
Another introduction from DANONE was DanActive. It contains the bacteria Lactobacillus casei which is purported to give the immune system a boost. There are other probiotic products coming to nourish the skin and fight obesity.
The profit projections from the DANONE products is attracting competitors. This is one market that is destined for huge growth.
Probiotics Family : Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium
Probiotics have two sides to their family. Genus Lactobacillus is a group of organisms that inhabit the digestive system. It resides mainly in the small intestine; the duodenum, the jejunum and the ileum.
The other side is the genus Bifidobacterium. These family members are found in the colon and exhibit changes and alterations throughout the human life span.
Lactobacillus is a group of probiotics that convert lactose and other sugars to lactic acid and the genus currently listed about 125 different species.
The species most commonly found in probiotic dietary supplements are:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus: The best known of the probiotics has numerous health benefits. Among others, it reinforces the immune system, reduces lactose intolerance, inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli and others, and produces natural antibiotics. Isn’t that amazing; a probiotic producing an antibiotic, sounds almost suicidal.
- Lactobacillus brevis: This like all the lactobacillus helps with lactose intolerance and inhibits the growth of some harmful bacteria.
- Lactobacillus bulgaris: Yogurt typically contains L. bulgaris. Helpful in acute diarrhea and lactose sensitivity. Very valuable in that it produces interferon which retards the growth of invading viruses.
- Lactobacillus casei: Occurs naturally in the mouth and digestive tract. It breaks down carbs and slows the harmful bacteria in the small intestine. Also effective in treating diarrhea.
- Lactobacillus lactis: One of the super probiotics that has a supporting role in fighting the superbug Clostridium difficile. it has also ability to produce the peptide, nisin. Like most lactobacillus, it has benefits for controlling acute diarrhea and has shown potential for helping colitis sufferers.
- Lactobacillus plantarum: May have beneficial effects for allergy sufferers and has antimicrobial properties.
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus: A wonderful probiotic for those plagued with urinary tract or vaginal infections. It makes a mucus coating that prevents toxins from entering the bloodstream. It occurs from the mouth to the small intestine.
- Lactobacillus salivarius: It is found in the mouth but also in the small intestine. It provides benefits for gum health, tooth decay, improves breath odor. It helps with mouth sores such as cankers and thrush as well. It also has the ability to denature (break down) proteins and produce B vitamins, enzymes and lactic acid. Its antimicrobial effects have been clinically proven.
Bifidobacteria is a major genus of bacteria that make up the gut flora, specifically, the bacteria that reside in the colon.
Bifidobacteria aid in digestion, are associated with a lower incidence of allergies and also prevent some forms of tumor growth. Some bifidobacteria are being used as probiotics as shown below.
There are approximately 35 species of bifidobacterium. Here are the the most known types:
- Bifidobacterium bifidum: One of the best probiotics for supporting absorption of vitamins and minerals in the small intestine. It can produce the B vitamins and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria.
- Bifidobacterium breve: Has demonstrated abilities to repress the growth of ulcer causing bacteria. May also help under weight infants gain weight.
- Bifidobacterium infantis: An incredibly important probiotic for protecting infants from very dangerous clostridia, salmonella and shigella pathogens. It is found naturally in the colons of infants and helps protect from acute diarrhea.
- Bifidobacterium longum: Has most the benefits of the other probiotics; preventing the invasion of pathogens, supporting the immune system, improving digestion and controlling constipation.
All of the probiotics mentioned above have many, many more benefits than were presented here. Since anyone can go to Wikipedia and find the equivalent of a doctoral dissertation on each of them, the only purpose here is to raise awareness and highlight some of their benefits.