Bacteria Spotlight: Lactobacillus
What is Lactobacillus?
Lactobacillus is a type of commensal lactic-acid gram-positive bacteria found in the human microbiomes (like the gut, oral cavity, urinary tract, and genital tracts). It makes up the majority of the vaginal microbiome.
There are many species of lactobacillus that are known to infer health benefits on us as the host. Here are a few common one's you might've heard of:
What does lactobacillus do?
Lactobacillus species like L. acidophilus has been shown to help "rebalance" the microbiome, meaning it can help to keep numbers of more pathogenic species at bay. Likewise, it has a similar impact on the vaginal microbiome (as much of the vaginal microbiome contains lactobacillus' species), helping to keep things like UTI's and other bacterial infections (like bacterial vaginosis) from occurring. This particular strain has also been shown to reduce instances of candida albicans overgrowth (that could lead to yeast infections).
Certain lactobacillus strains have been shown to decrease pro-inflammatory cytokines in the gut, meaning they have a protective role against inflammation (and inflammatory conditions in the gut like ulcerative colitis and crohn's), which can be helpful in the case of IBD, IBS, dysbiosis, etc.
Some strains have also been shown to have a regulatory effect on the gut's immune system. Upwards of 70% of the immune system resides in the gut — certain lactobacilli can help to keep this system running smoothly.
Another benefit we've seen with regards to lactobacillus, is its ability to lower cholesterol levels. Namely LDL cholesterol (which is touted as the "bad" cholesterol). In this way, these bugs can positively impact cardiovascular health, weight management, and inflammation.
How to increase lactobacillus?
Lactobacillus can be found in fermented dairy products like yogurt and kefir, fermented vegetables, and even in the production of certain alcohols.
A great way to get more lactobacillus into your day-to-day is to consume fermented foods! If you tolerate dairy, good quality (ideally organic) sheeps or goat's milk kefir and yogurt (these types of dairy are generally better tolerated) are a great addition to your nutrition. Likewise, exploring lacto-fermented foods are a great way to get more of these beneficial bugs in:
Kombucha (in small amounts)
Lactobacillus strains are also commonly found in a variety of probiotic formulas (multi-strain formulas), alongside other species like Bifidobacterium and Saccharomyces boulardii. Multi-strain probiotics can provide you with a wide variety of lactobacillus strains, providing you with a variety of benefits!
Likewise, it's always really important to make sure that you're always "feeding" your microbiome with the nutrients that it needs. Here are a few things to consider:
Aim for 6 cups a day of vegetables and fruit (and aim for a variety!) — this will help ensure you're getting lots of good fiber that your gut-bugs love to eat
Incorporate prebiotic fibers: onion, garlic, chicory, sunchokes, asparagus, plantain flower, green banana, etc. are all high in prebiotics
Get your polyphenols in! (these are nutrients found in foods that are coloured deeply.. so embrace eating the rainbow)
To learn more about probiotics that I love, and how to further take care of your gut and your microbiome, check out my FREE Beginner's Guide to Gut Healing.
Lactobacillus is an important gram-positive bacteria found in the human microbiomes (within the gut, oral cavity, vagina, etc.).
Certain strains of lactobacillus have been shown to positively impact us via helping to balance the gut and vaginal microbiome (to fight against imbalances and infections), lowering inflammation, lowering "bad" cholesterol, and supporting a healthy immune system.
To get more of these strains, consumed fermented foods daily, and perhaps look into a multi-strain probiotic.
Support your gut microbiome through a variety of plant foods every day, prebiotic fibers, and polyphenols.
If you dig deeper into your microbiome and see what your lactobacillus levels look like, check out my programs Gut Reset Program and Gut Rehab Intensive, where you'll have access to stool testing that can give you a deeper look into your gut microbiome.