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Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, What’s the Difference?

Probiotics are old news. They’re so well-established anyone can just walk at any grocery stores and take their pick of functional foods that contain probiotics or probiotic supplements. But which strain to pick?

 

The word probiotic is really an umbrella of term that includes all types of good bacteria. The most commonly used in functional foods and supplements includes:

  • Lactobacillus
  • Bifidobacterium
  • Saccharomyces boulardii

Different genus, has different species and strains. There are actually hundreds of different strains of probiotics. They all have different effects and works in various ways like:

  • Crowding out harmful bacteria by competing with them in terms of space and foods
  • Modulating the gut immense response

 

Lactobacillus versus Bifidobacterium

 

Both are gram-positive bacteria and safe to be used for probiotic supplements. Both produce short-chain fatty acids such as lactic acid. Bifidobacterium belongs to the bacterial group that lives in the intestine, particularly in the large intestine and colon. They are y-shaped bacteria that’s very important for your health. Among the most prominent features of Bifidobacteria is that they make up most of the bacteria in our intestinal flora. However, the proportion of lactic acid bacteria in the intestines ranges from less than 1% to trillions. Bifidobacteria produces both lactic acid as well as acetic acid, which is beneficial on human health.

  • infantis: Help increases the good bacteria in the GI tract, reducing GI distress, aids in the ability of infants to digest breastmilk
  • bifidum: Helpful in treating IBS, eczema, and in optimizing immunity
  • breve: Prevents relapse of ulcerative colitis, enhances the antibodies

 

Lactobacillus colonizes primarily in the small intestine and vagina. It’s the only bacteria that contain PanK-II enzymes, which is the first enzyme in the Coenzyme A (CoA) pathway. These rod-shaped bacteria are non-spore forming and use transport functions as a means of survival. Like the Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus metabolizes sugar into short-chain fatty acids. Lactobacillus are used in making dairy products like yogurt and cheese, as they have a high tolerance for low pH conditions. L. acidophilus in particular is the most widely recognized and used species in probiotics.

  • acidophilus: Used in many dairy products
  • casei: Involved in the production and ripening of cheddar cheese
  • brevis: Used in the fermentation of cheese
  • bulgaricus: Used in the production of yogurt

 

Mixing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium together

 

Mixing both Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus together are proven to be more effective. They provide enhanced protective benefits in different and complementary ways. So, mixing two genus together can give the best protective activity.

Mixtures of probiotics had beneficial effects on the end points including gut function, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, atopic diseases, respiratory tract infections, immune function, inflammatory bowel disease, and treatment of H. pylori infections.

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