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Probiotic Genus: Bifidobacteria

There are trillions of bacteria in your body, and one of the most important type is the Bifidobacterium.

 

What are Bifidobacteria?

 

Bifidobacteria, a species of good bacteria, is the first bacteria to colonize the intestinal tract of infants as they make their way through the birth canal. These y-shaped bacteria are mostly found in the large intestine or colon, and they’re incredibly important for your health. Although Bifidobacteria are exceptionally important for the body, they make up less than 10% of the gut microbiome.

 

There are many species of Bifidobacterium, and many of them are naturally found in the GI tract. Common species include:

  • longum: Proven to support digestions and the immune system, relieve constipation and stress
  • breve: Enhances the antibodies, prevent relapse of chronic pouchitis
  • lactis: Relief of constipation
  • infantis: Reducing GI distress, increases the good bacteria in the digestive system of infants, aids in the ability of an infant to digest breastmilk.
  • animalis: Relief of constipation

 

Functions of Bifidobacteria

 

Bifidobacteria offers a multitude of health benefits. In fact, its abundance is a health indicator.

These gram-positive bacteria are thought to help with:

  • Digestion of fiber and other complex carbohydrates that your body can’t digest
  • Prevention of infection from other bacteria such as coli
  • Prevention of heart diseases, diabetes, and other chronic disorders,
  • Production of B vitamins such as:
    • Thiamine
    • Niacin
    • Pantothenic acid
    • Biotin
    • Folate
    • Pyridoxine
  • Production of other important chemicals needed by the body like fatty acids. Low counts of these bacteria are linked to many diseases.
  • Improved brain and metabolic functions.
  • Supports the immune system by limiting the growth of bad bacteria in the intestine.
  • Breaking down of protein
  • Breaking down of lactose to lactic acid
  • Breaking down of polyphenols, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent found in foods
  • Protecting the intestinal wall from bad bacteria.
  • Relieving constipation and stress.
  • Minimizing gastrointestinal distress

 

Because Bifidobacteria are important for your health, they’re often used as probiotics in certain foods and supplements.

 

Ways to boost Bifidobacteria in your gut

By increasing the amount of Bifidobacteria in your intestines, you may be able to prevent or treat illness in various ways. Here are ways you can help them grow:

  1. Take probiotic supplements: Taking probiotic supplements, specifically, those that contain Bifidobacteria, can increase their numbers in your intestines.
  2. Eat prebiotic foods: Microbes are omnivores that enjoy several foods you can include in your diet, such as prebiotics. Prebiotics are foods for probiotics. They are a type of dietary fiber that feeds the friendly bacteria in your gut. They contain compounds that nourish the Bifidobacteria in your gut. Prebiotics stimulates the growth of healthy bacteria. They help the bacteria produce nutrients for the colon cells and lead to a healthier digestive system. Banana, onions, garlic, fruits, and vegetables contain prebiotics.
  3. Eat high-fiber foods: High-fiber foods remain undigested in the stomach, but the microbes in your gut can break them down. Artichokes, apples, almonds, blueberries, and pistachios are some foods high in fiber.
  4. Eat fermented foods: Fermented foods like yogurt and kimchi contain live cultures of microbes. They usually contain the genus Lactobacillus, but sometimes, they also contain Bifidobacterium.
  5. Consume polyphenols: Polyphenols are prebiotics that contributes to the maintenance of gut health. Since they are prebiotics, they increase the population of good bacteria, promoting the health of your gut.

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