In a recent comparison by ConsumerLab.com, a third-party testing organization on the Web, no less than 25 probiotic products were tested to see if they had the potency and the strains that they claimed. Of those 25, 8 completely failed the test with less than 1% of the claimed number of live bacteria. In fact, 6 products had only a few thousand live bacteria of the expected minimum of 1 billion! The report from ConsumerLab.com stated, products that did not claim a specific number of live bacteria at time of use were much more likely to have been low in live bacteria. It is quite likely that products low in bacteria may not work. Some clinical studies have shown that products with less than 1 billion live bacteria may be ineffective. MORE POSITIVE STRAINS MEANS MORE POSITIVE RESULTS!
Inside each of us is a vast ecosystem made up of billions of microorganisms. They coexist, sometimes harmoniously, but often in conflict. This unseen world is largely responsible for maintaining the body's vital chemical and hormone balance. Resident friendly bacteria, or "probiotics" form dense colonies on the mucosal surface of the gastrointestinal tract, creating a protective barrier against pathogens. By competing for space and nutrients, they safeguard us from harmful viruses, bacteria, parasites and yeast. Transient probiotic strains take up temporary residence in the GI tract as they are passing through, but nonetheless perform critical functions in maintaining health. Our bodies were designed to host both friendly and harmful flora in a complex symbiotic relationship from which we normally enjoy tremendous benefit.
Lactobacillus casei- This microorganism is reported in Microbiology and Immunology to have the most potent protective activity against the potentially lethal Listeria bacteria than any other bacteria. About 30% of those infected with listeria die. Listeria infect shellfish, birds, spiders and mammals (including cows) in all areas of the world. It is transmitted to humans by direct contact with infected animals or their secretions, by breathing infected dust, or through contact with contaminated sewage or soil. It is most commonly transmitted through consumption of contaminated dairy products and raw vegetables. The most common form of Listeriosis is meningitis (infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord), which if left untreated can result coma and death. L. casei is being studied for use as a vaccine against sexually transmitted diseases, and also for use with tumors in cancer patients.
Lactobacillus paracasei- This lactic acid bacteria (LAB) is both acid and bile resistant and thus survives the journey from the mouth through the gastrointestinal tract and into the intestines very well. Recent research indicates that L. paracasei is effective in the prevention and treatment of certain types of diarrhea. Research studies also have focused on L. paracasei' s ability to alter the activity of the intestinal micro flora, modulate the immune system, and perhaps reduce the risk of some cancers.
Bifidobacterium lactis- Research studies have shown B. lactis has significant immunological effects. This strain resists acid digestion and the action of bile salts, survives intestinal transit and reaches the colon in significant numbers. This strain also helps constipation, helps prevent diarrhea, especially in children, and decreases chronic inflammation of the sigmoid colon. In addition, its antimicrobial properties decrease the effects of negative bacteria, especially clostridia.
Lactobacillus brevis- Research studies have shown that L. brevis decreases intestinal permeability, improves intestinal microflora, and has a positive effect on the intestinal immune system.
L. rhamnosus- This is one of the most thoroughly studied probiotic strains. Its advantages in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders are well documented. It has been associated with the alleviation or prevention of disorders such as lactose intolerance, viral and bacterial diarrhea, adverse effectors of abdominal radiotherapy, constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, and food allergy according to Applied Environmental Microbiology, Jan. 1999. It has been shown to inhibit the growth of tumors. It is an organism of human origin that survives in the gastrointestinal tract, and has evidence proving its ability to inhibit the formation of human colon cancers.
L. rhamnosus has demonstrated an increased resistance to vaginitis and urinary tract infections. More recently, there has been evidence linking a lactobacilli vaginal deficiency with sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS. It has also been shown to inhibit the growth of a variety of bacterial species. One researcher reports, "L. rhamnosus may be considered as one of the most important lactobacilli, if not the best."
Lactobacillus bulgaricus- This bacteria is not a colonizer, but it is a great help to the resident bacteria that set up colonies in your intestines. It is especially famous for alleviating digestive problems and taming runaway appetites, but everyone can benefit greatly from it. L. bulgaricus is recommended for overall support of the friendly bacteria. It enhances the digestibility of milk products and other proteins, helps to produce natural antibiotic substances, and to clean the colon without disrupting friendly bacteria.
Lactobacillus gasseri- This super strain has been shown to be the most effective against the widest number of pathogens. It produces extremely effective natural antibiotic substances that can inhibit 11 known disease-causing bacteria. It has also been proven to inhibit yeast infections, improve chronic constipation and/or diarrhea aid in nutrient uptake and prevent food poisoning by targeting the harmful bacteria. This strain is highly recommended for overall daily maintenance. It fights candida overgrowth, and is helpful to those with food, chemical or environmental sensitivities. It adheres naturally to the walls of the intestine without harming the intestinal wall.
Streptococcus thermophilus- The antioxidant activity of this strain scavenges the body for free radicals which increase in the body as a result of aging, stress, antibiotics, consumption of sugar, antibiotics, chlorinated water and other chemicals and toxins. It displays anti tumor activity especially as related to colon cancer cell growth. It has been shown to inhibit ulcer formation in rats, and is effective in the treatment of diarrhea as well as intestinal and vaginal infections.
Bifidobacteria breve- This unique microorganism proved effective in lowering cholesterol by 104 points in a three-month study performed at the G.B. Pant hospital in New Delhi, India. There was a highly significant reduction in the LDL cholesterol levels, and a small but significant increase in HDL cholesterol levels. Use of this microorganism is an attractive alternative to drug therapy since there are no side effects.
Bifodobacteria longum- Researchers report that B. longum was able to eliminate the nitrates commonly found in foods ingested by humans. Normal levels of nitrates ingested by humans are not able to destroy this strain. It may also significantly inhibit the development and growth of colon, liver and breast cancers in laboratory animal models.
Bifodobacteria bifidum- This microorganism has the ability to protect the body against rotavirus diarrhea and is a supportive therapy for intestinal infections and intestinal disturbances. It has also been reported to have immune strengthening properties, especially in relation to colon health and its suppressive effect on tumors. It is well tolerated without side effects, and reduces the inflammatory response of the colon and stimulating the body's fluid immunity.
Bifidobacteria infantis- This strain is part of an important group of microorganisms, which are considered to exert a range of biological activities related to human health. One aspect is the inhibitory effect of B. infantis on invasive pathogenic bacteria such as E-coli. Results of studies show that it is able to exert more than one mechanism of inhibition, which is important with regard to protection of gastroenteritis. Although the mechanism of the anti tumor activity is unclear, it clearly produces compounds with anti proliferative activity useful in the prevention and therapy of solid tumors like breast cancer.
Lactobacillus plantarum- This strain is the dominating bacterial species in most naturally fermented foods. It is an excellent alternative to antibiotics, and makes use of its potential to block receptor sites for gram-negative bacteria. L. plantarum is capable of metabolizing semi resistant fibers, such as onions, garlic, artichoke, wheat, oat, rye, bacteria bananas, and yeast. It is also an important tool in anti-microbial defense and is effective both against extra-and intercellular pathogens.
Lactobacillus acidophilus- By far the most important bacterial resident of the small intestine is L. acidophilus. This is the colonizer, the inhabitant that constitutes the first line of defense against alien invaders as well as opportunistic organisms like yeasts. It even helps to keep your heart healthy by lowering the levels of cholesterol in the blood. When present in significant numbers, they prevent pathogens form lining the intestinal walls. If too many colonies of intestinal bacteria build up, nutrient absorption can be blocked. Fortunately, when the walls are crowded with acidophilus colonizers, there is no room for newcomers.