More and more we know the great importance that bacteria have in our body, and we are not only talking about those that inhabit the digestive tract. Our body can house between 10 to 100 trillion bacteria, and they fulfill essential functions for the proper functioning in our lives.
It is true that the vast majority are found in our intestine, and are known as microbiota. The consumption of alcohol, the antibiotics taken to the tun tún or the diet we carry can condition the number of bacteria present and, what is more important, the type.
The imbalance between the number of bacteria and the different families can cause diseases that can become serious and affect the immune system. Therefore, it is interesting to know some probiotics based on beneficial bacteria, such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus.
This type of microorganism can be found in almost all dairy foods, although we can also consume it through probiotics or dietary supplements. Therefore, we want to review the importance of Lactobacillus rhamnosus and its implications for our body.
What is the Lactobacillus rhamnosus?
Lactobacillus rhamnosus is a type of bacteria that is usually found in our intestine. Belongs to the genus Lactobacillus, a group of bacteria that have the particularity of producing the enzyme lactase. This enzyme is responsible for break down lactose sugar present in dairy products and transform it into lactic acid.
Therefore, they have been classified by the scientific community as probiotic bacteria, since they can offer health benefits when they are in balance with our intestine.
Currently, there is a lot of research that supports the benefits of Lactobacillus rhamnosus. However, there are many different strains with different activity at the intestinal level.
What are probiotics really?
The proper definition of a probiotic is that of any live microorganism that when administered in adequate amounts confers a benefit for the health of the host.
Our gut is the main organ (but not the only one) where millions of bacteria that colonize its walls live. These microorganisms are responsible for breaking down food and transforming it to make the most of it. For example, they can transform fiber into short-chain fatty acids, synthesize some vitamins or strengthen our immune system.
These probiotics can come from the consumption of certain foods, especially dairy or fermented products (sauerkraut, kefir or yogurt), as is the case with Lactobacillus rhamnosus.
There are clear differences in the concept of probiotics and prebiotics. The first term refers to microorganisms, as we have defined them above. The second, to foods that favor the growth of its population. Most of them are formed by sources of fiber and carbohydrates (starch, polysaccharides and oligosaccharides, among others).
Benefits of taking Lactobacillus rhamnosus
Although most of the effects benefits of L. rhamnosus they are related to the improvement of the digestive system, it also offers positive interactions with other organs and parts of our body.
Improves gut health
A clear example of what a probiotic does is improve, generally speaking, gut health. Lactobacillus rhamnosus It is capable of producing lactic acid, which helps prevent the survival of potentially harmful bacteria in our digestive tract.
This makes the presence of this bacterium limit the development of other pathogens such as Candida albicans, avoiding its colonization in the intestinal walls. [See study]
In turn, it also has the ability to enhance some beneficial groups, such as Clostridia, bifidobacteria or the genus Bacteroides.
At the nutritional level, Lactobacillus rhamnosus has the ability to increase the production of short-chain fatty acids (acetate, propionate and butyrate), fInteresting cell feeding and fermenters of the fiber we consume in our diet. [Additional Information]
These short-chain fatty acids are related, according to several scientific researches, to the prevention of colon cancer, the loss of body weight and the control of glycemia in diabetic people.
L. rhamnosus May prevent diarrhea
When we suffer from diarrhea, the origin is a mismatch in microbiological populations and the presence of pathogenic bacteria. This causes continued fluid loss which can trigger acute dehydration.
Several scientific studies certify that Lactobacillus rhamnosus it can help prevent the onset of diarrhea, especially when it is related to the consumption of antibiotics. [View Report]
The review of several studies involving 1,500 people found conclusive evidence that the strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG reduced the risk of antibiotic-related diarrhea from 22.4% to 12.3%. [View Report]
May relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
There is an increasing percentage of people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. Currently the causes of its origin and the symptoms it causes, related to abdominal pain, bloating or gas, are unknown.
The latest medical references connect this disease with the natural intestinal flora of our body. IBS is thought to be linked to a higher volume of pathogenic bacteria such as Clostridium , Streptococcus and E. coli and a lower volume of those beneficial as Bifidobacterium or Lactobacillus.
Prebiotic foods that strengthen these favorable microorganisms seem to lessen the effects caused by irritable bowel syndrome. [See information]
This disease needs even more research to reach truthful conclusions about its origin, effects and control, and especially the involvement of probiotic organisms.
May prevent urinary tract infections
A urinary tract infection can happen anywhere in the urinary tract, kidneys, bladder, or urethra.
Due to the anatomy of the sexual organs, it is much more frequent in women, and is usually caused by the presence of Staphylococcus saprophyticus and Escherichia coli.
Some research indicates that probiotic bacteria can prevent some urinary tract infections by restoring vaginal flora and reducing populations of pathogenic bacteria. Several strains are currently being studied, where it seems that Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR1 works very well in preventing UTIs. [See study]
The same does not happen with the GG strain that also works against diarrhea. There is still a long way to go and more research is needed.
May protect against cavities in children
Tooth decay is quite common in young children, especially from drinking milk and sugary foods. These bacteria create acids that break down the enamel and damage the outer layer of the teeth.
The involvement of probiotic bacteria such as L. rhamnosus and its antimicrobial activity, and it seems that it has positive effects on the prevention of caries.
In a study conducted in children with habitual milk consumption, it was shown that the group that drank milk with probiotic had fewer cavities and dental bacteria than the placebo group. [See study]
However, more information is needed to know how this bacterium acts by slowing down the development of pathogenic microorganisms.
Other potential benefits
It can reduce allergies: they can help prevent allergy symptoms by promoting the growth of friendly gut bacteria and suppressing the growth of harmful bacteria. [Additional Information]
Lactobacillus rhamnosus to lose weight: it can suppress appetite, especially in women. [See study]
May increase insulin sensitivity: Animal studies show that several strains of Lactobacillus rhamnosus may increase insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control. [See study]
It can lower blood cholesterol: Studies in mice found a reduction in blood cholesterol levels. [See study]
Dosis and consumption of L. rhamnosus
Generally, probiotic supplements contain several clustered species of Lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. The amount included in each product is measured in colony-forming units (CFUs). A regular supplement can contain about 10 billion live bacteria, or 10 billion CFUs, per capsule.
To prevent diarrhea associated with antibiotic consumption, we have to look for the strain L. rhamnosus GG, recommending a consumption of 1 capsule daily. The supplement should be consumed
several hours after taking elantibiotic, continuing for 1 week after stopping the medication.
In addition, the consumption of dairy foods increases the population of this bacterium and others of the Lactobacillus group.
Safety and Side Effects
In general, its consumption is recommended throughout the healthy population, with few or no side effects. In isolated cases, some people may experience symptoms such as stomach bloating or flatulence.
People with compromised immune systems (HIV, AIDS or cancer), should avoid its consumption and consult with the medical specialist beforehand.