One of the reasons why yogurt may be considered a healthy snack is that it contains beneficial bacteria called probiotics. Lactobacillus acidophilus, commonly known simply as acidophilus, is one of those healthy bacteria found in yogurt. But what is acidophilus, and what does it do for your body? Acidophilus has been used in the management of diarrhea, lowering cholesterol, and fighting vaginal infections.
What is acidophilus?
Lactobacillus acidophilus is one type of lactic acid bacteria, which are bacteria that feed on sugars in foods and produce lactic acid as the end product of the fermentation process.
Acidophilus is commonly found in fermented milk products like yogurt or kefir, as well as in tempeh and miso.
Lactic acid bacteria like acidophilus are some of the most common types of bacteria used as probiotics (bacteria that are used for their health-promoting qualities).
This is because taking acidophilus supplements, or eating acidophilus-rich foods like yogurt, can help to colonize your digestive tract with these beneficial bacteria. Boosting the probiotic community in your body can help heal your gut and lead to a whole host of beneficial effects, like enhancing immune system activity, fighting inflammation, preventing infection, and promoting healthy digestion.
What are some of the specific acidophilus benefits?
Acidophilus benefits for your health
Acidophilus has far-ranging effects in the body. Some of its benefits include:
- Help treat diarrhea. Probiotics, including acidophilus, are often used to help manage diarrhea. It has been shown to help the absorption of electrolytes in the gastrointestinal tract, which is one way that it can help manage diarrhea. It can also help treat specific causes of diarrhea, such as from infection with Clostridium difficile.
- Fighting vaginal infections. Both oral ingestion and the local application of acidophilus probiotics may help fight vaginal infections. Acidophilus increases vaginal cell proliferation and viability, helping to create a healthy environment, which may help increase resistance to pathogens. Eating yogurt with acidophilus can help colonize the vagina with this bacteria.
- Helping to improve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). According to one study, acidophilus supplementation led to a reduction in uncomfortable IBS symptoms, such as abdominal pain and discomfort in patients.
- Lowering cholesterol. Eating acidophilus-rich fermented dairy products like yogurt and kefir can also help lower cholesterol, studies suggest. Probiotics helped lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in patients, which also helps lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Get more acidophilus through fermented milk products or probiotic supplements.
Keeping your gut stocked full of enough healthy bacteria like acidophilus will help fight off infections and maintain ideal overall health. Yogurt is a very healthy snack option; not only will it give you those live, bacterial cultures you are looking for, but it also has protein and is very versatile. Pair yogurt with fresh berries and nuts for a super healthy snack.
Kefir, miso, and tempeh are also great alternatives.
You can also opt for taking a probiotic supplement. Look for a high-quality supplement containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and other lactobacilli strains for best results.
Read more about some of the various health benefits of probiotics.
Originally published in 2015, this post has been updated.