Lactobacillus acidophilus, a well-known probiotic, is a type of healthy bacteria that offers numerous health benefits. Healthy bacteria produce lactic acid, vitamin K and hydrogen peroxide in the intestines, which helps regulate and maintain a healthy digestive system. Although L. acidophilus is generally safe for most people to consume, consult your physician before using the probiotic to treat constipation and other health issues.
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Lactobacillus acidophilus, naturally present in the vagina and intestines, helps restore and maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut, especially after a round of antibiotics. The "friendly" bacteria also protects the intestines and vagina against harmful bacteria that cause vaginal and bacterial infections, such as thrush. L. acidophilus and other healthy bacteria help with the break down of food and absorption of nutrients in the intestinal tract.
L. acidophilus may help in the treatment of chronic constipation by helping restore balance and regularity to the digestive system. According to the National Institutes of Health, L. acidophilus is often used to treat irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, which may cause alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation. Although L. acidophilus may offer relief for some people who experience chronic constipation, some people may experience increased symptoms when using the common probiotic. Talk to your physician about the proper use of L. acidophilus if you suffer from constipation.
The primary sources of Lactobacillus acidophilus include cultured dairy products such as yogurt, kefir and enriched milk. Miso, tempeh and other fermented soy products may also contain L. acidophilus. Dietary supplements, available at health food stores, supermarkets and pharmacies, provide a more concentrated source of probiotics. L. acidophilus supplements are available in powder, tablet, capsule or liquid form. Check the label or talk to your physician about refrigeration requirements. L. acidophilus supplements have not been approved by the FDA and should not be used in place of prescribed medication.
Although acidophilus supplements and food sources are safe for consumption by adults and children, you should always consult your physician before using acidophilus to treat you or your child. Talk to your doctor before taking acidophilus if you have a suppressed immune system or an artificial heart valve, which may increase your risk of infection. Because possible interactions may occur, discuss your current medications with your doctor before taking acidophilus.