Bifidobacteria

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15Bifidobacteria is a type of bacteria that lives within the intestines. Though they can be found naturally within the human body, they are also grown outside the body to be packaged as supplements and sold for medicinal purposes.

This type of bacteria may appear as bifidobacteria on a product label, but it may also be listed under any of a long list of additional names. Among the most common names for this ingredient are: B. Bifidum, Bifidobacterium, Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium adolescentis, L. Bifidus, Lactobacillus Bifidus, Bifidus Longum, Bifidus Infantis, B. Lactis, or even just “probiotic,” if the product doesn’t identify the specific type of bacteria it uses.

Bifidobacteria are often included in probiotic supplements that make claims regarding benefits for diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, constipation, cold and flu prevention, and even weight loss. That said, any research conducted on the use of this ingredient has been limited and preliminary. Despite the grand claims made about the use of this ingredient, there isn’t that much known about what it can and cannot do.

Therefore, while this doesn’t mean that bifidobacteria doesn’t work for the purposes claimed, it does mean that you should be careful what you believe. After all, without the right scientific evidence to support its use for various medicinal purposes, it’s impossible for a company to know what it can do, how much is needed in order to achieve that goal, whether it can be problematic if used in doses that are too large or too small or if it conflicts with other supplements, medicines, prescription drugs, foods or medical conditions.

Bifidobacteria falls into the lactic acid bacteria category. This is the type that naturally grow in fermented dairy food products such as cheeses and yogurts. They are often found in probiotics and are considered to be “friendly” bacteria that, when found naturally in the digestive tract, support desired bodily processes. That said, it is not yet known whether or not supplementing these bacteria through pills will enhance those processes or whether they provide additional potential benefits such as better health, immune support, or weight loss. Still, those claims are often found on product labels.

It is typically accepted that taking these supplements as per the package directions likely would not cause any harm to the average healthy adult. That said, claims should be believed with skepticism, if only because they are not based upon solid research evidence.

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