So-called bifidobacteria keep harmful bacteria and pathogens away. Taking probiotics can help, as can eating right.
In order to provide the bifidobacteria with sufficient food, it is advisable to consume a lot of indigestible carbohydrates (also: roughage). In this way, the bifidobacteria can settle permanently, which is not only good for intestinal health. dr Matthias Riedl explains why bifidobacteria are so important.
What are bifidobacteria?
The so-called bifidobacteria are naturally occurring, non-disease-causing bacteria in the body. These are probiotics that can support the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, gastrointestinal complaints (e.g. diarrhea, constipation) or the rehabilitation of the vaginal or intestinal flora. Bifidobacteria are among the most important components of a functioning, healthy intestinal flora. They not only keep diseases away, but also strengthen the immune system or the body’s defences. If you eat properly, the bacteria settle permanently in the intestine.
What can bifidobacteria do?
But how does this process in the body, which is so beneficial for us, actually work? “Bifidobacteria lower the pH in the colon by fermenting glucose into lactic acid,” says Dr. Matthew Riedl. The acidic environment prevents the colonization of pathogens such as salmonella, clostridia or E-Coli. Our intestinal flora thus remains in balance – and dysbiosis is prevented. “We now know that the composition of the intestinal flora plays a role in many lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, MS, intestinal inflammation and even depression.”
According to the expert, a lot can be influenced by having a healthy intestinal flora. For example the risk for:
- high blood pressure
- nerve diseases
- mental illness
“A healthy intestinal flora optimizes our immune system, improves our stamina and performance, stimulates digestion and intestinal movements and supplies the intestinal mucosa and our nerve repair cells (neuroglial cells) with the short-chain fatty acids butyric acid, acetic acid and propionic acid,” explains Dr. Riedl. These acids are actually only metabolic products of the good intestinal bacteria, which also include the bifidobacteria.
Irritable bowel syndrome: help from bifidobacteria
According to scientific studies, bifidobacteria can have a positive effect on diarrheal diseases and irritable bowel syndrome. Results have shown that the microorganisms normalize the stool consistency and counteract the development of flatulence. Doctors now even assume that a lack of bifidobacteria in the intestinal flora can trigger irritable bowel syndrome.
How can I supply bifidobacteria?
Did you know? Babies get the beneficial bacteria from breast milk. For this reason, infants who are breastfed can also have higher levels of microorganisms in the gut than infants who are not breastfed. Even babies benefit from this natural protection against pathogens.
But later as an adult, we absorb them primarily through indigestible dietary fibers (e.g. psyllium husks). And: “Since bifidobacteria are among the lactic acid bacteria, we can absorb them naturally by eating natural sour milk products and vegetables pickled with lactic acid,” explains Dr. Riedl. There are also various probiotics that are suitable for building up the intestinal flora. These preparations contain the same bifidobacilli and lactobacilli that are naturally found in the gut.
In adult humans, about 25 percent of the intestinal bacteria correspond to bifidobacteria. In infants, it is up to 95 percent of the intestinal bacteria.