Good vs. Bad Bacteria
Our digestive tract is a jungle, as it houses more than 400 species of living bacteria. Other areas in the body like the mouth, urinary tract, ear canal, and vagina are home to a diverse population of bacteria.
The hundreds of species of bacteria are classified into two groups: friends and enemies. There is a balance between the two groups. Our bacterial friends suppress the growth of harmful bacteria to keep as healthy. Besides from controlling the number of harmful bacteria, good bacteria helps improve immune function, enhance protective barrier of digestive tract, and produce Vitamin K.
Meet Lactobacillus acidophilus
Lactobacillus acidophilus is an example of friendly bacteria found in our digestive tract. The word “acidophilus” in its scientific name gives us an idea that it is an acid-producing bacterium. It specifically produces lactic acid in the process of fermentation. By contributing acidity to the intestinal environment, the growth of harmful bacteria is suppressed. To keep us healthy, L. acidophilus and its friends have a continuous civil war to harmful bacteria. In exchange to their service, we provide them nourishment.
Lactobacillus acidophilus Decline
Sometimes, we perform actions that cause population decline of friendly bacteria like L. acidophilus in our digestive tract. These actions include oral antibiotic therapy, inadequate dietary fiber, chemotherapy, and ingestion of environmental toxins. An inadequate number of bacteria and an overgrowth of harmful bacteria can result to diarrhea, infection, and abnormal digestion.
Lactobacillus acidophilus in Probiotics
To restore the balance of good and bad bacteria in our system, we need to take probiotics. Probiotics are substances that contain beneficial bacteria like L. acidophilus. L. acidophilus can be found in capsule, liquid, powder, tablets, and suppositories. It can also be found in cultured dairy products like yogurt or kefir. Once these probiotic products are consumed, L. acidophilus begins to colonize the digestive tract.
Lactobacillus acidophilus Side Effects
Lactobacillus acidophilus side effects are uncommon. Most people take L. acidophilus without any problem. However, some people experience side effects including gas, flatulence, bloating, stomach discomfort, dizziness, flu-like symptoms (nausea & fever), and diarrhea. These side effects usually occur at the 1st or 2nd day of use of L. acidophilus but they will disappear in following days. Women who use L. acidophilus vaginally may experience itching in their vaginal lining. If the these side effects persist, seek medical help.
L. acidophilus can also trigger allergic reactions. Symptoms include skin rashes, itching, swelling (edema), diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, breathing difficulty, and anaphylactic shock. Seek medical help if you experience these allergy symptoms.
Take note that side effects can also be caused by other ingredients/contaminants of probiotics beside from live microorganisms. Always purchase probiotics from trusted and reliable producers.
Precautions on Using Lactobacillus acidophilus
L. acidophilus medications haven’t yet received FDA approval so ask your doctor first before using them.
People who have suppressed immune system due to disease or chemotherapy may not take L. acidophilus medications because they may not tolerate the bacteria leading to serious infection.
People with artificial heart valves are prevented in using L. acidophilus medications.
The safety of L. acidophilus supplements in pregnant women is not yet known. Thus, pregnant women should avoid L. acidophilus supplements.[ad#afterpost]