Lactic acid bacteria in the gut: how they affect your health

Lactic acid bacteria in the gut How they affect your health

The roommate said to the bubbly medical student:“Giulia, you’re studying medicine – how’s it going to go?”

It’s a question you don’t hear often. And if so, then in a funny lecture by Giulia Enders. At least since her bestseller “Darm mit Charm” we know: The intestine is an underestimated organ.

The young researcher describes with great attention to detail what is good for us… and what is not. It is based on scientific studies and shows us what researchers have found about lactic acid bacteria in the gut.

The answer? The bacteria are important for our gut health. Especially the lactose and bifidobacteria – part of the approximately 400 probiotic bacteria – are good helpers. The former provide, among other things, a good environment for themselves, but a bad one for intruders. They relieve symptoms of lactose intolerance and nourish the intestinal mucosa.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. But we wanted to know more about it and researched the lactic acid bacteria in the intestine, and the words probiotics and prebiotics. We also show you which foods are really pleasant for our body. Disclaimer: The article is intended as initial information for you. This does not replace medical advice from a doctor.

The gut as a farm

There are about 100 trillion bacterial cells in our gut, according to the pharmacy review. Nevertheless, the organ has long been an unprocessed area. New research methods changed that. The intestine is the new playground of science. This does not make research less serious.

The new approach to the topic leads, for example, to transplantationof the intestinal flora, which improves intestinal activity in the recipient. In the study, 18 out of 20 people returned to normal bowel activity. This research primarily helps to understand how we counteract the side effects of antibiotics. Another 2013 investigation was very sensational. Scientists transplanted the intestinal flora of their brave colleagues to anxious mice. The result? With the fear it was over – the mice suddenly became brave.

What we really need to do to spur our guts to peak performance is still being investigated. But we already know a little bit about it. For example, lactic acid bacteria are very important for the organ and our health.

What are lactic acid bacteria?

Lactic acid bacteria are found in your digestive tract, but also in dairy products.

The most important bacteria are called “lactobacteria and bifidobacteria“. But they are better than you might think of this name.

The lactobacteria were among the first bacteria studied. In 1873, Joseph Lister isolated the first bacterial pure culture, which he called Bacterium lactis. This lactic acid bacterium is now called Lactococcus lactis and is used to ferment milk to produce hundreds of different dairy products.

What do these little helpers do?

Think of the bacteria as useful workers in your gut factory.

The next time you eat spaghetti with lots of carbohydrates, a lactic acid bacteria is already rubbing your hands: New delivery! Let’s start with energy production.

They also ensure that sugar becomes lactic acid. What sounds so inconspicuous is a powerful function.

Because this seems like a police check: those who are drunk have to pay. The lactic acid bacteria in the intestine strengthen your defences and remove harmful bacteria from circulation.

What does this mean in concrete terms? Lactobacteria work like this:

  • They provide a “acidic” environment. Good for you, bad for intruders.
  • They care for the intestinal mucosa.
  • They displace pathogens.
  • They relieve the symptoms of lactose intolerance.
  • And most importantly, without them, there would be no yoghurt for muesli!

These bacteria are the best studied and may be called probiotics.

Probiotics as targeted help

Probiotics are freely translated as“living microorganisms that, when administered at an appropriate dose, have a health benefit” (“Live microorganisms which were administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host”, FAO/WHO 2001).

The term is relatively new and means “for life“. The bacteria contained should therefore have a positive effect on our well-being.

For this observation we must thank the Russian Nobel laureate Eli Metchnikoff. In 1907 he mentioned that “the dependence of intestinal microbes on food makes it possible to take measures to change the flora in our body and to replace the harmful microbes with useful microbes” (Metchnikoff, 1907).

With this sentence he described an interesting observation, which Giulia Enders also took up. Bulgarian farmers were getting very old at the time – and he wanted to know why. His guess was that it was a small bag in which they were transporting their milk. Because the long distances led to the conversion of milk to acidic milk or yoghurt. He did not yet know probiotics as a word, because this only came up in the 1960s. But how do probiotics actually work?

How probiotics really work

Probiotics are attributed to different effects. But which ones do they really have?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there is still a lot of research going on here and more needs to be learned about the effect and intake. That’s why probiotics may be able to…

  • help the body maintain a healthy community of microorganisms
  • allow the microorganisms to re-enter the body after a disorder
  • Produce substances that have a health-promoting effect
  • influence the immune system

Overall, the previous studies on probiotics look good. For example, in case of diarrhea, remissions in ulcerative colitis or the prevention of intestinal diseases in premature babies. For example, in 2018, a scientist looked at 53 studies involving a total of 5,545 participants dealing with probiotics and irritable bowel syndrome. In the study, the researcher concludes that probiotics can have positive effects on global symptoms and abdominal pain. However, it was not possible to draw definitive conclusions about their effectiveness.

Studies on the effects of probiotics are already available in the following areas:

  • Digestion
  • Allergies
  • Infants
  • Teeth

Giulia Enders would add something else: probiotics or bacteria lead to fewer pollutants in the body and we can eat better. In addition, they protect our intestines, reduce diarrhea after taking antibiotics, and can help strengthen the immune system.

However, the lactic acid bacteria in the intestine are rotten. They disappear if they do not receive a hefty supply of new workers every day. They are, so to speak, quick helpers who, after the work has been done, say goodbye to their colleagues who are permanently sitting in their intestines.

As a supplement, you can buy probiotics offline and online. We also have a probiotic combination with 13 strains. Foods also contain probiotics. We will then add to this. First of all, a word that is often confused with the microorganisms described so far.

What are prebiotics?

Whenever probiotics are spoken, the term PrÄbiotics comes up. Only one letter changes, but so does the entire context.

Has a friend ever invited you to an ice cream? This is exactly what prebiotics do. They invite probiotic bacteria to a cosy snack.

How exactly does this work? Prebiotics are indigestible ingredients (fibers) of foods. These ingredients are especially used as foods for bifidobacteria. Now the bifidobacteria are doing well and are working even better to ward off harmful viruses and bacteria. Prebiotic foods include garlic, onions and artichokes.

However, the fibres themselves may also have a positive health effect. For example, calcium intake and utilization may be increased.

The lactic acid bacteria in the intestine and the prebiotics are therefore an unbeatable team. If you’re going to help your gut bacteria celebrate properly, let’s take a look now.

Foods where your gut makes air jumps

The nice thing is: With a targeted diet, you help your intestines and thus the whole body to stay on track. That’s why we introduce you to five foods that are often probiotic.

5 foods that are really good for the gut

1. Yoghurt

Yoghurt counts as a good product for the intestine due to lactic acid fermentation. This is because useful bacterial strains are added to the yoghurt during production. However, if you buy a yoghurt, it should be fresh so that the bacteria are still alive. Univ.Prof. Dr. Christoph Gasché also says in an interview on minimed that he would take the sticky yoghurt.

Eating yoghurt has health benefits, such as improved bone health. It is also beneficial for people with high blood pressure. In children, yogurt can help reduce diarrhea caused by antibiotics.

2. Kefir

Kefir is a drink made from cow’s or goat’s milk. The kefir grains contain lactic acid bacteria and look like cauliflower. The word itself probably derives from the Turkish “keyif”, which means “feel good”.

Kefir can improve bone health, help with digestion and protect against infection. The drink also contains more important bacteria than yoghurt.

3. Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is a crushed cabbage and one of the oldest foods in Europe. Even sailors use sauerkraut to protect themselves from scurvy. You probably know it as a side dish to a hearty meal. Sauerkraut contains vitamins C, B and K in addition to the probiotic properties.

4. Kimchi

This dish is prepared by lactic acid fermentation and comes from Korean cuisine. Kimchi contains the “Lactobacillus kimchii” and can therefore be considered a probiotic food, as stated in the study “Health benefits of kimchi (Korean fermented vegetables) as a probiotic food.” The Koreans blame us: there you eat the dish at almost every meal.

5. Cheese

Cheese can contain probiotics, but it doesn’t have to. Especially in cheddar, gouda and mozzarella, living bacteria are found. In addition, cheese is rich in protein, vitamins and minerals. More precisely: calcium, vitamin B12 and selenium.

Lactic acid bacteria in the intestine are useful helpers

The intestine is a fascinating organ with probably much more functions than we can imagine. That’s why it’s important to take care of this important part of our body. This starts with the diet and ends with the very individual observation whether we are doing well. Fortunately, we know little helpers called lactic acid bacteria, which provide balance and harmony in the intestine. The beneficial bacteria are also called probiotics. This is available in food and also as a dietary supplement. An often confused friend of probiotics are the prebiotics. The latter help certain probiotics to work better. It is important that much research is still being carried out on the subject and that the benefits of some probiotics are not yet entirely clear. Nevertheless, there are studies that attribute an effect to probiotics, for example, in case of diarrhea. When Giulia Enders wrote her book at the time, she hit a nerve of the times. She has since retired from public life. By the way, she answered her roommate’s question, but that’s a different story.

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