When it comes to pure numbers, bacteria are the dominant life form on this planet! And your body is full of them — some destructive to your health and some that can enhance health and protect you from destructive, or pathogenic microbes.

Most people know about antibiotics, pharmaceutical preparations to kill bacteria, especially to stop bacterial infections. Unfortunately treatment with antibiotics can also kill off good bacteria that maintain balance in your body. Probiotics are “microbially derived factors that stimulate the growth of other microorganisms.” In terms of probiotic dietary supplements that means that live microbes – like acidophilus bacteria – feed and establish populations of health enhancing bacteria to improve the microbial balance, primarily in the intestines, but also in the mouth and vagina. Eating fermented foods, like yogurt, kefir, and saurkraut for example, or supplementing with probiotics, such as Natural Factors Double Strength Acidophilus with Bifidus, can increase populations of the “good guys” and reduce populations of invasive, pathogenic microbes.

Where do probiotics come from?

According to the people who “grow” probiotic cultures, most lactic acid bacteria strains used in today’s probiotic supplements were actually isolated decades ago! Research centers and universities studied probiotic strains from human, dairy, and plant sources, to produce what are called “first generation” probiotics. These “mother cultures” reproduce under highly controlled conditions, and are tested for characteristics such as survival strength (in the stomach’s highly acid environment and on the shelf), pH, biochemical properties and more. The best, purest and most potent cultures are used to produce more probiotics of that strain.

There are many, many species of bacteria, just as there are different species of animals, and each species can have multiple strains, each with differing probiotic actions. Some of the most researched and therapeutic strains are L. rhamnosus, L. acidophilus and B. bifidum. The “L” stands for lactobacillus, which means milk bacterium. Acidophilus means acid-loving and rhamnosus means rod-shaped. Bifidobacterium comes from the Latin word for infant and is found in mothers’ milk and in the digestive tracts of newborn babies.

L. rhamnosus is probably the most important probiotic strain for health of the mouth to the small intestine. It coats the mucus, preventing toxins from reaching the blood. It improves bad breath, supports sugar fermentation (important for people with milk sugar intolerance), fights putrefactive microbes and yeast.  It is a hardy strain that can survive stomach acid and keeps well without refrigeration.

L. acidophilus produces lactic acid to keep a proper pH balance in the small intestine, inhibiting yeast growth. Studies have shown that L. acidophilus is effective in reducing lactose intolerance, and inhibiting undesirable organisms in the intestine.

B. bifidus helps maintain health of the large intestine in both children and adults, promoting regular bowel movements, giving protection from yeast and bacteria such as E. coli, Clostridium and Shigella.

These three species are sourced from original human probiotic cultures, known to exist in the human digestive tract, mouth and urogenital system. This means that such bacteria can live with and expand existing populations of beneficial bacteria in our bodies.

Natural Factors Double Strength Acidophilus with Bifidus is a good example of how the science of probiotics has led to therapeutic supplements for health support. Each capsule of this double strength supplement contains 10 billion active cells including 8 billion cells of L. rhamnosus, and one billion cells each of L. acidophilus and B. bifidum. The effective probiotics in this formula can provide a wide range of health benefits such as immune and digestive support.

Adequate numbers of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract help ensure complete assimilation of nutrients from our food. For example, L. acidophilus assists in the absorption of vitamins K and B, calcium, lactase and fatty acids. Of course it is essential to repopulate the digestive tract with probiotics following use of antibiotics.

Our bodies are amazingly complex environments where billions of biochemical reactions occur every second! Supplementation with a carefully formulated probiotic like Natural Factors Double Strength Acidophilus with Bifidus can contribute to natural improvement of your body’s existing immune function and ensure that the “good guys” outnumber the “bad guys” for better health every day.