A Guide to Probiotic Bacteria

Monica WildeMonica Wilde
Research Herbalist

It is now a well-known fact that beneficial gut bacteria are crucial to our health. There is increasing evidence that the gastrointestinal microflora is a major regulator of the immune system, not only in the gut, but also in other organs. However, research studies find that a city dweller, on average, has only 30% of the gut bacterial variety of a hunter-gatherer. Having as wide a range of probiotics as possible (our Napiers probiotic blend has 10 strains) has the most impact on your health, especially when digesting a diet high in protein.

Lactobacillus

Among lactic acid bacteria, strains of the genus Lactobacillus  are among the most important bacteria in food microbiology and human nutrition. They thrive in the acidic environment of our upper intestines and they help to ferment, break down and digest the foods that we eat especially milk products. They are instrumental in fermenting yoghurt, cheese, pickles, chocolate and beer, supporting our natural immunity and they also suppress undesirable microbes, like the yeast Candida. Our capsules contain Lactobacilli from all three main groups I, II & III. Lactobacilli are also used as probiotics to restore normal flora balance after taking antibiotics.

Common Lactobacillus strains are Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus fermentum.

Bifidobacterium

The majority of Bifidobacterium are found in the colon and lower small intestine. They also help to break down the foods that we eat especially milk products, mannitol and sorbitol from plants.  In pregnant women they are found in breast milk and are the first beneficial bacteria to colonise our intestines after we are born.

Common Bifidobacterium strains are Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium bifidum and Bifidobacterium breve.

Saccharomyces

Strains of the genus Saccharomyces are sometimes called baker’s or brewer’s yeasts as they help to ferment bread, wine and beer.  They may help us to break down gluten from bread and pasta. S. Boulardii is found naturally on the skin of tropical fruits and helps to prevent gut infections and diarrhoea associated with travel, infections, antibiotics and IBS(D). S. Boulardii boosts the production of short-chain fatty acids (the end products of fermenting dietary fibre in our gut), that have been shown to provide multiple beneficial effects on energy metabolism. It also helps to keep undesirable bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori in check.

A common strain is Saccharomyces Boulardii.

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