Probiotic or “Good” Bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium have been shown to reduce the risk of bacterial or fungal infections in the intestines. Probiotic bacteria have been used for decades to fight off harmful Candida molds (yeasts) in the intestines. Probiotics have also been shown to reduce risk of skin and food allergies and reduce risk of “leaky gut”.
(Leaky gut occurs when weakness of the intestinal walls allow bacteria, toxins, and allergens to enter the blood stream from the intestinal contents.) Such probiotic bacteria is found in yogurt and cultured milks and are also available in probiotic tablets, powders or capsules sold in health food stores and pharmacies.
Additional research has reported other good health benefits of taking probiotics. Recent Taiwanese research has reported that taking tablets containing Lactobacillus significantly reduced mouth levels of Streptococcus mutans- the primary bacteria which causes tooth decay. (This research is now in press in Clinical Oral Investigation).
Another recent study in a French Intensive Care Unit (ICU) reported that death rates were significantly lower in acutely ill patients given Lactobacillus rhamnosus bacteria than those given placebo. (This research is now in press in Intensive Care Medicine).
Much more research is needed to develop strains of probiotic bacteria which have optimum health promoting properties.