Lactic Acid Bacteria, or Lactobacillus, is the most common type of bacteria found in probiotics. Used for nearly 5000 years to culture and ferment food, lactic acid bacteria (or LAB), is most commonly found in yogurt, kefir, cheeses and other dairy products.
While not all the bacteria in the LAB category are exactly the same, they are categorized in the same group because they all produce lactic acid as a byproduct of the fermentation process.
Before scientific research demonstrated the health benefits associated with LAB, they were used to preserve foods; they were also added to foods to enhance flavor and change texture. As an example, when added to milk, LAB provides a slightly tangy taste; when processed into yogurt, the taste, consistency, and smell are all altered.
In addition to using LABs in dairy products, they are also a primary ingredient in pickling, and have been used for centuries to pickle vegetables, meats, and eggs.
Since lactic acid bacteria can only create energy from breaking down sugars, or carbohydrates, these probiotics naturally thrive in dairy products, specifically yogurt, sour cream and kefir. These mediums provide LABs with the environment they need to thrive. One of the many reasons they thrive in many dairy products is because dairy products contain naturally occurring sugars, on which LABs feed; these naturally occurring sugars are called prebiotics and provide probiotics with the food source needed to grow and reproduce. Other sources of probiotics include whole grains, onions, garlic and bananas.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF LABs
LABS, like most probiotics, provide several health benefits; most of these benefits are found in the digestive system. Specifically, supplementing a diet with LABs and other probiotics found in yogurt, kefir, fermented vegetables or over the counter capsules, has demonstrated to significantly lessen the symptoms and/or duration of the following conditions:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (I.B.S)
- Crohn’s Disease
- Urinary tract and yeast infections
- Diarrhea and other stomach issues
- Intestinal tract infections
- Antibiotic induced conditions, specifically prevention of the spread of Clostridium difficile bacteria
While most lactic acid bacteria support good health, a few strands are known to cause severe illness in humans. Perhaps the most well-known problematic LAB are members of the Streptococcus bacteria. Bacteria in the streptococcus family cause serious illness such as strep throat and pneumonia. Both of these illnesses are treatable with antibiotics, but treatment with antibiotics may cause significant secondary infections with serious, unintended consequences, including death. Fortunately, supplementing your diet with healthy probiotics found in yogurt and kefir protect your body from the effects of secondary infections resulting from antibiotics. A high quality probiotics supplement may also be added.
While there is not a firm recommended daily allowance of lactic acid bacteria or probiotics, research suggests that the amount found in a serving of yogurt (roughly 1 billion live cultures) each day provides the required amount to aid in digestion, stave off digestive illnesses and minimize secondary infections resulting from antibiotics.
See why we recommend Daily Pro Blend 12B from Open Doors Nutrition