A probiotic is a live microbial dietary supplement that beneficially affects the host by improving its intestinal microbial balance and exerting health affects beyond basic nutrition. The lyophilized lactic acid bacteria Lactobacillus rhamnosus is a beneficial bacterium that colonizes in the human intestinal tract and is a normal inhabitant of the healthy intestine. Lactobacillus strains are most active in the small intestine, particularly in the ileum whilst the Bifidobacterium strain is most active in the colon. Lactic acid bacteria also colonize in the vagina, cervix and urethra.
Lactic acid bacteria are tolerant to bile and gastric acid and are therefore able to pass through the upper gastro-intestinal tract and colonize in the small intestine and colon. Within the intestines these bacteria have the ability to adhere to the intestinal epithelium where they help restore the balance of the intestinal microflora, stimulate the production of antimicrobial compounds (such as acidolin, acidophilin, lactocidin and bacteriocin), inhibit pathogenic micro-organisms, positively influence the immune system and assist in the production of vitamins.
They also help complete the digestion of food components that were not digested in the small intestine, such as lactose in lactose intolerant individuals or fibres resistant to the digestive enzymes encountered in the small intestine. The metabolic end products of their growth are organic acids (lactic and acetic acids) that lower the pH of the intestinal contents, creating conditions less desirable for harmful bacteria. Bifidobacterium lactis and B. longum and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and L. acidophilus have been proven to exert numerous beneficial effects including, but not limited to the aiding of the: alleviation of lactose intolerance, alleviation of diarrhoea associated with antibiotic treatment, reduction of rotavirus induced diarrhoea, reduced incidence of traveler’s diarrhoea, reduction of candidal colonization and infection.