Acidophilus is the name given to a combination of bacteria or probiotics such as Lactobacilus casei, Lactobacilus acidophilus, Lactobacilus bulgaricus and other such beneficial bacteria, which aid in digestion in the human bodies. Known since thousands of years, these naturally occurring bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract of men and vagina of women, are believed to have made their way to the food tract some long time ago, after which, a natural fermentation cycle was born out of it, which the scientists have now learnt to duplicate in the laboratories.
On being cultured in a sugar-rich environment, acidophilus bacteria breakdown the sugar into lactic acid, lowering the pH of the food, liquid or solid, and this renders an uninhabitable environment for the harmful microbes; thus, preserving the food and also, altering its taste. Yogurt is one of the best examples of such foods, which uses these bacteria that form lactic acid in it and sour it. Kombucha, Kefir, Kimchi and Sauerkraut are other common examples.
An acidophilus diet protects the body against harmful microbes and parasites. The hydrogen peroxide released inside the body by the breakdown of the food molecules by these bacteria, drives away the unhealthy microbes, and on the other hand, boosts up digestion aiding in the release of certain chemicals. Moreover, such a diet also strengthens the body’s immunity and provides relief from existing intestinal issues. This healthy group of probiotics is generally sold as supplements in the form of capsules or is simply added in the powdered form to the milk and consumed. Ingestion of acidophilus enriched foods such as yogurt is also recommended for such a diet.
Acidophilus Diet: Recommendations
The acidophilus diet can be followed as a remedy for any of the following problems -
- Yeast infection of the breast
- Yeast diaper rash
- Vaginal yeast infection
Acidophilus supplements can be taken alongside most antibiotics for the above mentioned problems. The supplements are recommended be taken even after one week after the problem has gone or the antibiotic is finished.
Foods to Eat:
- Fresh and unpasteurized yogurt
- Yogurt cheese
- Certain soy foods like soy milk, miso, yogurt and tempeh.
- Acidophilus Milk
- Rice milk
- Liquid probiotics
- Raw kimchi
- Kombucha drink
- Certain energy bars like Luna Bar, Nature’s Plus Ultra Energy Bar, Macro Green Energy Bar etc.
Acidophilus benefits can be gained from the supplements which are currently sold in the forms of powder, capsule or tablet.
Adults – The capsules should be taken only as directed in the bottle or as advised by a registered medical practitioner. Generally, the supplement is recommended to be taken daily, at least 30 minutes before meal.
Children – Children are best administered acidophilus in the powdered form, although capsules are also fine for the children who are able to swallow. Generally a single teaspoon is thought to be enough, which is to be served mixed in juice, milk or food.
Infants – For infants, the powdered supplement of the probiotics can be mixed with breast milk or water to form a paste, which should ideally be rubbed onto the baby’s mouth. This can be done once a day. Alternately, 1 teaspoon of this powder can be mixed with the baby formula and the infant can be bottle-fed once every day.
- These probioctics are a potential treatment for bacterial vaginosis, and for preventing as well as treating oral or vaginal infections.
- The supplements are also beneficial in preventing colon cancer.
- Acidophilus in the diet can also diminish risks of diarrhea, often caused by antibiotics.
- The supplement can lower serum cholesterol levels.
- It is believed to aid in the regulation of digestion and in the prevention of constipation or diarrhea associated with digestion related problems.
- Some diet companies even claim that it is useful in bringing down weight, although, any evidence to support such claims is yet to be found.
- Digestive problems like Crohns disease and irritable bowel syndrome can be treated by it.
- It assists in nutrient assimilation and in the expulsion of non-nutrient substances out of the intestinal tract, aiding in stool elimination.
- Some studies suggest that the acidophilus probiotics can treat diaper rash, diabetes, and asthma as well.
- It eases the vitamin synthesis in the body, most notably so in the case of vitamins B1, B12, K and folic acid. The increased Vitamin K production aids in bone formation and blood clotting.
Acidophilus: Side Effects
- Abdominal gas or discomfort has been cited to be the most common side effect of an acidophilus diet, especially amongst the lactose intolerant individuals. However, this dissipates with the continuous consumption of such foods and supplements, although, decreasing the dosage also helps.
- Acidophilus may also lead to dental caries as the bacteria in the supplements react with the salivatory proteins and food particles in the mouth, and form plaque, that reacts with sugar to release an acid, which in turn dissolves calcium and may even, dissolve the tooth enamel.