A Probiotic Species with an Extraordinary, Nurturing Personality
Bifidobacterium lactis is the most studied and clinically researched species of Bifidobacterium. This extraordinary probiotic is tolerant and nurturing, with benefits so exciting it seems almost magical, making it the Mary Poppins of the human microbiota. Even when things look dire, Bifidobacterium lactis is that character who brings hope for positive change (along with a seemingly endless Carpetbag filled with capabilities). To a scientist, Bifidobacterium lactis would be described as a lactic-acid-producing, non-spore-forming, gram-positive, non-motile, anaerobic, rod-shaped bacterium. But, for those who prefer a good bedtime story, Bifidobacterium lactis can be thought of as a Mary Poppins-like probiotic, who may be nurturing but, certainly is no pushover. Bifidobacterium lactis gracefully descends into people’s guts (without an umbrella of course), and changes the environment for the better. Come discover this extraordinary probiotic…
What is Bifidobacterium lactis?
With a rather plain, rod-shaped appearance, Bifidobacterium lactis may not appear like a very extraordinary species of bacteria in the microbiota. Yet, it is present in huge numbers in the human gut and has some impressive abilities to nurture and support immune function and digestive wellness. Its positive impacts also go beyond the gut, benefiting the skin and respiratory system. Sometimes Bifidobacterium lactis strains have been confused with B. animalis or Streptococcus lactis spp. but, this species is memorable enough to stand out.
Where does Bifidobacterium lactis come from?
When Bifidobacterium lactis enters a human’s world, unlike in the story of Mary Poppins, there’s no magical umbrella involved. Bifidobacterium lactis was first isolated from the feces of breastfed babies back in 1899 and has been used worldwide since 1986 with no safety concerns.
Where does Bifidobacterium lactis live?
Like a good nanny, Bifidobacterium lactis is very tolerant. It can handle acidic environments and is bile tolerant. Bifidobacterium lactis is capable of surviving in a wide range of environments thanks to its impressive oxygen tolerance (One can almost imagine it carrying a proverbial umbrella to weather difficult environments, such as the gastrointestinal tract with its varying acidic and tempestuous areas). As such, Bifidobacterium lactis can be found in the intestines and colon in great numbers.
Foods that May Contain Bifidobacterium lactis
- Cottage Cheese
What food has Bifidobacterium lactis?
Used a lot to make dairy products, Bifidobacterium lactis is added as a starter culture in the production of yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, and buttermilk. Breastmilk contains Bifidobacterium lactis. Bifidobacterium lactis spp. can found as ingredients added to infant formulas. As this probiotic is capable of surviving freeze-drying, it can be successfully added to many foods, such as infant formula.
How does Bifidobacterium lactis work?
Bifidobacterium lactis is a wonderful real-life example of what Mary Poppins’ preaches: sometimes everyday hard work can create magically wonderful places. In the gut, Bifidobacterium lactis helps nurture by aiding the absorption of various vitamins and minerals: some strains of Bifidobacterium lactis produce folic acid (vitamin B9), while some help transform minerals into bioavailable forms, or are needed for cellular gateways to allow minerals to enter a cell. However nurturing Bifidobacterium lactis is, it is no pushover! Members of this probiotic species have been shown to counteract the harmful, toxic effects of the wheat protein gliadin, a component of wheat gluten that can cause the gut to become permeable in Celiac disease. It also protects the gut lining from pathogenic microbes.
How does Bifidobacterium lactis benefit the body?
This probiotic is definitely not a pushover! Bifidobacterium lactis prevents pathogens from being a problem in the gut. Able to produce acids, peroxides, and bacteriocins, Bifidobacterium lactis has an impressive arsenal of things to throw at pathogens in the gut. Plus, Bifidobacterium lactis makes it hard for pathogens to find space to hang out in the human microbiota. (That’s right, kids! The Mary Poppins of your gut makes sure no monsters are hiding under the bed.) This is accomplished by immense populations of Bifidobacterium lactis effectively crowding out pathogens in the gut. And, Bifidobacterium lactis has staying power – adhesion properties that allow it to stick around the mucosal layer of the gut. Bifidobacterium lactis also strengthens barrier functions in the gut enhancing defenses. These abilities, explain why this probiotic is known for promoting digestive wellness, including diarrhea, constipation, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, as well as other benefits to human health.
5 Ways Bifidobacterium lactis sp. Promote Health
1. Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea
The chapter of this probiotic’s story about antibiotic-associated diarrhea is worth reading. Bifidobacterium lactis seems to help the microbiota bounce back after taking antibiotics. In a human study, a strain of Bifidobacterium lactis enhanced microbiota recovery. Perhaps, we should rewrite the line, a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, with a spoonful of probiotics helps the microbiome rebound?
Before moving along, it’s worth noting Bifidobacterium lactis is a welcome presence in a constipated colon. It improves gastrointestinal transit time, according to research.
3. Respiratory Tract Support
A gut-lung microbiome axis links the bacteria that reside in the intestines to the health of the respiratory tract. Studies have found consumption of Bifidobacterium lactis impacts upper respiratory tract infections, by positively influencing the function of immune cells (natural killer and T-cells). Considering over 70% of immune cells are found within the gut, near where these probiotics are acting, the microbiota can have a significant impact on the immune response. The microbiota can reduce symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold and flu.
4. Seasonal Viral Exposure
Good nannies always carry tissues during outings to the park, but this fascinating probiotic species has a different way to deal with nasal symptoms from seasonal allergic rhinitis. Bifidobacterium lactis has immune-modulating effects, says the research, that ease immune factors and allergic symptoms during seasonal exposure.
5. Excessive Crying
Hush little baby, don’t you cry! A strain of Bifidobacterium lactis appears to help with excessive crying and fussing in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study of 192 breastfed infants. This tolerant probiotic can put up with all that crying and help the microbiome rebound.
In the words of Mary Poppins, “Sometimes a little thing can be quite important.” Despite their miniature size, Bifidobacterium lactis is clearly an important part of the human microbiota.
Discover more characters of the human microbiota by the International Probiotics Association:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Bifidobacterium longum
- Streptoccocus thermophilus
- Saccharomyces boulardii
- Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus
- Enterococcus faecium
- E. Coli Nissle 1917
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Live probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis bacteria inhibit the toxic effects induced by wheat gliadin in epithelial cell culture. Clin Exp Immuno 2008 Jun;152(3):552-558.
Promotility action of the probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 extract compared with prucalopride in isolated rat large intestine. Front Neurosci 2017 Jan26;11:20.
The science behind the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB-12. Microorganisms 2014 Jun; 2(2): 92-110.
Immune-modulatory effect of probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis NCC2818 in individuals suffering from seasonal allergic rhinitis to grass pollen: an exploratory, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Eur J Clin Nutr 2013 Feb;67(2):161-7.
Consumption of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB-12 impacts upper respiratory tract infection and the function of NK and T cells in healthy adults. Mol Nutr Food Res 2016 May; 60(5):1161-71.
Probiotic supplementation for respiratory and gastrointestinal illness symptoms in healthy physically active individuals. Clin Nutr 2014 Aug;33(4):581-7.
The therapeutic efficacy of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB-12 ® in infant colic: A randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled trial. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2020 Jan;51(1):110-120.
Efficacy of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB-12 on infant colic – a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study. Beneficial Microbes 2021 Sep;12(6):531-540.