Your Guide to the Benefits of Lactobacillus Acidophilus

L. acidophilus is bacteria found naturally in the human body. When taken as a supplement, it helps to boost the natural flora community in your gut, which has been proven to be beneficial for overall health. Here's what you need to know.

12 minute read

Last Updated July 14, 2020

Your Guide to the Benefits of Lactobacillus Acidophilus

Lactobacillus acidophilus, or L. acidophilus, is one of the trillions of bacteria living in your digestive tract. Unlike pathogenic bacteria that can cause disease, these microorganisms are beneficial to your health. 

These bacteria are used in probiotic supplements to help boost the natural flora community in your gut, and the World Health Organization has designated them to be beneficial to their host when administered in the proper amounts.

What Is Lactobacillus Acidophilus?

L. acidophilus is bacteria. They break down carbohydrates (specifically the sugar lactose) and produce lactic acid. These bacteria grow well in food products made from milk and are responsible for souring milk. 

Beyond being naturally found in several parts of the body, such as the intestines and vagina, L. acidophilus is a probiotic used to treat and prevent certain medical conditions. 

L. acidophilus has been used to treat several medical conditions in children and adults.

♦ Lactose intolerance
♦ Diarrhea
♦ Irritable bowel syndrome
♦ Yeast infections
♦ Skin conditions
♦ Indigestion
♦ Cold and flu
♦ Urinary tract infections
♦ High cholesterol

The Health Benefits of Lactobacillus Acidophilus

L. acidophilus has been studied in-depth as a beneficial probiotic. There are several different strains within this bacterial class, and each has a different impact on your body. This allows the bacteria to provide multiple benefits to your overall health.

Reduce Cholesterol

Cholesterol can be both good and bad for you. HDL (good) cholesterol is important for transporting fat molecules through the body, and your body needs this to function. LDL (bad) cholesterol is bad for you at higher levels, and it can cause fat to accumulate in the blood, increasing your risk for cardiovascular diseases. 

Maintaining good levels of HDL helps to reduce LDL levels and keep you healthy. Studies have shown that L. acidophilus is particularly effective at reducing LDL levels, and may be more effective than other probiotics. 

Not only does this probiotic lower LDL, but it also increases levels of HDL, giving you a healthier total cholesterol level.

Good for Gut Health

Your gut is inhabited by trillions of bacteria, most of which are there to promote healthy digestion. L. acidophilus produces lactic acid, which works to prevent harmful bacteria from colonizing in the gut. 

This probiotic has also been shown to increase the presence of other beneficial bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium. L. acidophilus also produces short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, which play an important role in gut function and health.

Treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS is one of the most common digestive disorders affecting one in every five. Symptoms of IBS include abdominal cramping, bloating, and irregular bowel movements. Individuals with IBS also develop intestinal damage as a result of chronic inflammation along the digestive tract. 

Studies have found that L. acidophilus supplements have improved symptoms for IBS patients, including a reduction in abdominal discomfort. It was noted during studies that in order for the probiotics to be most effective, low doses of single-strains probiotics need to be taken.

Promote Healthy Bowel Movements

Bacterial infections in the gut commonly cause diarrhea. In severe cases, this can result in excessive water loss and dehydration. Probiotics like L. acidophilus helps to prevent the growth and colonization of many harmful bacteria, which can prevent infection and diarrhea. 

This probiotic has also been found to reduce diarrhea associated with antibiotic consumption. Antibiotics kill off both good and bad bacteria in your gut, and this can cause diarrhea, but L. acidophilus helps prevent this by maintaining a healthy gut balance. 

For those who travel extensively or are adventurous with their food, taking this probiotic can also prevent diarrhea associated with new foods and environments. 

Promote Weight Loss

Because the bacteria living in your gut is designed to help the digestive process, they will also have an influence on your weight. Studies have found that some bacterial strains can contribute to weight gain, while others help with weight loss. 

Most studies to date regarding the effect of L. acidophilus on weight have been conducted with animals, so more research is needed to determine how exactly it affects human weight loss or gain. 

Better Mental Health

The link between the gut and the brain has been established and supported by numerous studies. The bacteria in your gut influence your brain health and function and can impact mental health and disease. 

Probiotics like L. acidophilus promotes a healthy and balanced gut environment, which triggers better mental health. Studies have shown that taking L. acidophilus can reduce the risk of developing depression and can reduce or treat symptoms of those already diagnosed with the disease. 

Treat Vaginal Infections

The most common vaginal infections are vaginosis and vulvovaginal candidiasis, and both are caused by bacterial colonization. Bacteria within the Lactobacillus family are known to live in the vagina, and their production of lactic acid prevents other bacteria from colonizing there. 

Certain disorders cause the bacterial balance to change, allowing for harmful strains to outnumber the Lactobacilli. Eating more L. acidophilus ensures that bacterial balance will be maintained in the vagina to prevent or treat infections. 

Boost Your Immune System

Countless studies have shown that the bacteria living in your gut influence your immune system. L. acidophilus, in particular, has been found to boost immunity and reduce your risk for viral infections, such as those causing the common cold or flu. 

When used to treat colds, L. Acidophilus reduces coughing and fever and reduces the number of absences from work or school. This probiotic can also help to reduce the severity of allergic reactions. Symptoms such as runny nose and itchy eyes can be reduced by taking L. acidophilus, and chronic nasal swelling that leads to rhinitis is also prevented. 

Probiotics can be an excellent resource for beating common allergies. L. acidophilus works to fight allergies by reducing the amount of the antibody immunoglobulin A, which activates allergic reactions.

Better Skin Health

Common skin conditions like eczema and atopic dermatitis are often caused by chronic inflammation. The result is itchy, dry, red skin, or painful rashes. Studies show that L. acidophilus can reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms of certain skin conditions. 

When giving this probiotic to pregnant women and infants in the first months of life, the prevalence of eczema is reduced by 22 percent. Additional studies found that when combined with traditional medical treatments, L. acidophilus helps to reduce symptoms of atopic dermatitis.

Treat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a condition that causes long-term symptoms affecting your overall wellbeing. The main symptoms include muscle and joint pain, extreme tiredness that does not go away with rest, sleep problems, and concentration or memory problems. 

Healthcare professionals are still learning about chronic fatigue syndrome, but research is finding a link to gut health. Studies show that when individuals take probiotics like L. acidophilus, symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome are significantly reduced. The healthy gut balance achieved with this probiotic is believed to be the reason that symptoms are diminished. 

Taking Lactobacillus Acidophilus

L. acidophilus is available as a capsule or tablet supplement or as a vaginal suppository. You can also find powder and liquid forms too. Some dairy products like yogurt contain these bacteria and can be used in place of supplements. 

Before taking any probiotic, you need to consult your doctor to discuss any medical conditions or medications that can be affected. Specifically, you need to find out if it’s safe to use L. acidophilus when you:

♦ Have a weakened immune system
♦ Have short bowel syndrome
♦ Are pregnant or breastfeeding

Always use a probiotic according to the instructions on the label or packaging. You do not want to use more than the label or your doctor recommends. If you are currently taking any antibiotics, be sure to wait at least two hours before taking L. acidophilus. If you take more than the recommended dose or have an allergic reaction, seek medical help immediately. 

Common side effects of taking L. acidophilus can include bloating and gas. In most cases, taking probiotics is safe, but there can be some difficulty passing them from your gut into the bloodstream. This can have adverse reactions that need medical attention. 

Certain medications can also cause reactions when present along with L. acidophilus, such as steroid medications, drugs to prevent organ transplant rejection, and a host of prescribed medications. 

Individuals with short bowel syndrome, weakened immune systems, or cardiac valve disease may be at higher risk for these adverse reactions than others. A weakened immune system can be compromised further with the additional presence of bacteria, even if they are beneficial. 

Too much bacteria in the bloodstream can result in a condition known as bacteremia, and this can lead to sepsis and death. 

Recommended Dosage of Lactobacillus Acidophilus

L. acidophilus is a supplement, so it is tested and regulated through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, although they are not as strictly monitored as a prescription or over-the-counter drugs. 

There are a variety of brands on the market, and each offers different strengths of the bacteria. Because of the impact, L. acidophilus has on your health, it is important to choose only brands that have a solid reputation and have been clinically tested and proven.

Supplements for L. acidophilus are available without a prescription, so it is important to know the recommended dosage to consume. It is also advised that you speak with your doctor before starting a probiotic supplement to ensure it is not going to interfere with any medications you may be taking. 

The recommended dosage per day is 1 or 2 capsules depending on the CFU of the supplement. You do not want to consume more than 10 billion CFU per day, so take capsules accordingly.

When choosing a supplement, be sure to check the ingredients, and get a brand that offers the recommended dosage. If the CFU per capsule is too low, you may not receive the benefits of the bacteria, and if it is too high, your side effects could be worse or additional conditions may develop. 

The recommended dosages for L. acidophilus come from testing and proven results. Although every person will react differently to the probiotics, sticking to the recommended amounts is the best way to ensure you are taking the probiotic safely.

The Bottom Line

L. acidophilus is beneficial bacteria found naturally in the human body. It can be taken in supplements or from foods (yogurt, kefir, miso, and sauerkraut) to boost gut health and ensure bacterial balance in the body is maintained. 

This probiotic prevents the colonization of harmful bacteria by creating lactic acid and an acidic environment they do not like. To get optimal results, combine the probiotic supplement with a balanced diet and daily exercise. As a result, you get a healthier gut, a stronger immune system, and overall great health.

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