What Is Lactobacillus Bulgaricus?

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Bacteria
Bacteria (Image: "Bacteria" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: kaibara87 (Umberto Salvagnin) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.)

Lactobacillus is a genus of beneficial micro-bacteria that live in the human body and are usually present in the gastrointestinal tracts and the vagina. Though they only make up a relatively small portion of gut flora they help to convert lactose and other sugars to lactic acid. There are a number of different strains, Lactobacillus bulgaricus is one of them. L. bulgaricus can be found in yogurt and some soft cheeses.

History

There is a Bulgarian legend that tells of a young shepherd who watched over his flock in the Balkan mountain range. The story tells of how the boy’s goats produced so much milk that he did not have enough cans to hold it. So as not to waste the milk he made a sack from a lamb’s skin and put the milk in it. The next morning he found that the milk had turned into yogurt. This would have been due to the content of Lactobacillus bulgaricus.

Significance

Lactobacillus bulgaricus was first discovered to have health benefits by Bulgarian biologist Stamen Grigorov in 1905, when he isolated it from yogurt cultures. Grigov showed that Lactobacillus was beneficial for the treatment and prevention of a number of diseases such as tuberculosis, ulcers and fatigue.

Lactobacillus Bulgaricus and Yogurt

Today, Lactobacillus bulgaricus is one of several common species of bacteria used in the manufacture of yogurt. In the yogurt-making process, L. bulgaricus feeds on milk and produces lactic acid. The bacteria help to break down the enzyme lactose in the gut and can aid digestion.

Function

Lactobacillus bulgaricus helps the body break down certain enzymes such as lactose; this can aid the digestive process, particularly for people who are lactose intolerant. The friendly bacteria also help to promote the growth of other beneficial bacteria and help to maintain a healthy immune system. It may also help the body to metabolize lipids and maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Because L. bulgaricus has antibiotic properties, it can help prevent infections and prevent the proliferation of pathogenic microorganisms in the gut.

Lactobacillus Bulgaricus Supplements

As well as obtaining the benefits of Lactobacillus bulgaricus from some brands of yogurt, supplements also are available in the form of probiotic drinks. Probiotic drinks and supplements are those that contain beneficial live bacteria. Popular probiotics drinks include the extra benefits of pureed fruit such as yucca, papaya, blueberry and black cherry. L. bulgaricus is sometimes combined with L. acidophilus in a probiotics tablet.

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