What is Lactobacillus?

If you’ve heard of acidophilus, then chances are you’ve also heard of Lactobacillus. Acidophilus is a species of bacteria from the Lactobacillus family, a widely used type of friendly bacteria often found in probiotic supplements. But let’s go a little bit deeper into the mysterious world of bacteria, to understand exactly what Lactobacillus is.

stain family

What is Lactobacillus?

Lactobacillus is what is known as a genus of bacteria, a large group comprised of different types of lactic-acid-producing bacteria (hence the name Lactobacillus). This genus is the ‘parent’, so to speak, but within this genus there are numerous well-known friendly bacterial species, including reuteri, rhamnosus, and acidophilus. Lactobacilli are natural residents of the human gut, but are also found in other plant and animal environments, and in fermented foods such as yoghurt and cheese. Bacteria from this genus have been featured in countless clinical trials, and it boasts a very large number of highly researched strains (types) of probiotics, including Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM®, the most extensively researched strain of Lactobacillus acidophilus in the world.

Looking beyond the genus

Whilst all Lactobacilli bacteria share certain qualities, there are many variations between the properties of each species within this genus, and particularly between individual strains within the different species. It is important to avoid the assumption that all Lactobacilli are the same, as each bacterial strain will have its own unique modes of action in the body, therefore when considering a probiotic supplement, it is advisable to compare them at strain level rather than just genus or species. This way you can ensure you are getting the right types of probiotic strains to suit you.

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How do I find the best type of Lactobacillus for me?

As specified above, it’s much more important to consider the strain rather than just the genus or species of friendly bacteria, so look for probiotic supplements which give the strain names. This way, you can choose the strains you think will suit you best; however, there are a few other key points to consider when choosing a probiotic, to ensure you are getting a high quality supplement.

Firstly, the strain should have sufficient scientific evidence to support its safety and survival to the gut. Secondly, don’t be drawn in by huge billion counts. Higher billions does not necessarily equal higher quality – it’s much more important to get the right strains, even if they’re in lower quantities. Lastly, check it has a ‘time of expiry’ guarantee as opposed to a ‘time of manufacture’ guarantee, as this means the contents are guaranteed until the supplement goes out of date, rather than just at the time of manufacture (as numbers can decrease after this point).

Luckily for you, OptiBac supplements satisfy all of these criteria!

The following OptiBac supplements contain Lactobacillus strains:

Healthcare practitioners might be interested to find out more about Lactobacillus on the Probiotics Database, in Probiotic Professionals. 

Author: Kerry Beeson - BSc (Nut. Med.) Nutritional Therapist