Lactobacillus acidophilus, commonly known as acidophilus, is one of the most frequently used probiotics. This beneficial bacterium is naturally produced in your gut, but evidence indicates that taking acidophilus as a supplement could improve digestion and provide a broad range of other health benefits. L. acidophilus is one of over 200 members of the Lactobacillus genus.
Probiotic bacteria like L. acidophilus are neither water-soluble nor fat-soluble. Instead, these beneficial microorganisms absorb into your gut lining using a mechanism called cell suspension. The bioavailability of cell suspension is roughly equivalent to that of water-soluble substances, which means that acidophilus absorbs into your digestive system rapidly and efficiently.
Acidophilus is present in fermented dairy products such as yoghurt, cheese and milk kefir. This probiotic is also found in various fermented vegan foods like sauerkraut, pickles and tempeh.
L. acidophilus and other probiotics have not been recognised as essential nutrients, so there are no official nutrient reference values (NRV) for these beneficial bacteria. Most clinical studies conducted to determine the benefits of probiotics, however, have used daily dosages between 1 billion and 10 billion colony-forming units (CFU).
While ingesting enough acidophilus in the food you eat is relatively easy for people who consume dairy, vegans need to eat a lot of fermented foods if they want to absorb adequate levels of this probiotic from their diets. If you don’t like fermented foods or you just can’t stomach the idea of eating kimchi every day, taking L. acidophilus in supplement form may be more convenient.
Your digestive tract contains trillions of beneficial bacteria that help you digest your food. L. acidophilus is one of the most abundant and most important probiotic bacteria, and a healthy digestive tract naturally produces adequate levels of this probiotic.
Processed foods and drinks, however, can harm your digestive tract whereas taking oral antibiotics completely wipes out your gut flora. It’s safe to assume that most people suffer from depleted levels of beneficial probiotic bacteria, and taking acidophilus in supplement form is a great alternative to the regular consumption of fermented foods.
Ideally, your body should be able to produce all the L. acidophilus you need for optimal digestion. Removing dairy from your diet, however, eliminates one of the most common natural sources of this probiotic, and various environmental and medical factors can reduce levels of beneficial bacteria in your gut even further. Taking acidophilus is a great idea if you’ve ingested oral antibiotics recently, but anyone can benefit from the potential gut-boosting effects of this popular probiotic strain.
Acidophilus uses cell suspension to rapidly absorb through your digestive tract, but you may need to take this probiotic regularly over the course of a few weeks to start noticing its beneficial effects.
Individual bacteria themselves don’t live very long, but the acidophilus you ingest in supplement form will create colonies that self-perpetuate within your gut.
Research indicates that L. acidophilus may exert direct antioxidant activity in the digestive tract and throughout your body.
Taking acidophilus in concentrations exceeding 20 billion CFU could cause mild digestive discomfort.
Acidophilus colony-forming units that you ingest will be flushed out of your system relatively rapidly, but the bacteria colonies they leave behind can stay in your gut for years.
In recent years, efforts have been undertaken to develop new strains of probiotics using CRISPR and other gene-editing tools. While the resulting probiotic bacteria are not strictly synthetic, they are certainly genetically modified.
Increasing bioavailability is one of the main aims of scientists who are developing genetically modified strains of probiotics.
Genetic engineering often produces unintended, harmful consequences.
You can ingest L. acidophilus in supplement form or by eating fermented foods.
In 2020, a German study found that probiotics are useful in preventing sepsis in preterm infants when paired with human breast milk. Preterm infants fared better across the board when they received supplemental L. acidophilus. Also in 2020, a new clinical trial showed that taking acidophilus reduced abdominal pain in individuals who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome.