Probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, are probably best known for colon health, but recent research is showing that probiotics may also be helpful for stomach conditions. The vast majority of peptic, intestinal ulcers and gastritis cases are caused by a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori or H. pylori.
About half of all humans carry this potentially harmful bacterium and up to 15% of those infected will develop an ulcer. Since H. pylori was identified as the ulcer-causing culprit, the challenge has been to identify the best possible treatments and prevent relapse. Typical ulcer treatments of acid blockers and antibiotics have had some success, but natural health advocates warn against using such drugs long term. Scientists now agree the standard protocol for H. pylori infection needs work and they’re hopeful about the potential of probiotics.
An article published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology identified a specific strain of probiotic bacteria called Bifidobacterium bifidum that may help treat ulcers. Scientists isolated the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium bifidum from breast-fed infant fecal matter and tested it against H. pylori. Researchers noticed that the bacterium inhibited H. Pylori up to 95% in vitro. In further testing, mice infected with H. pylori and given Bifidobacterium bifidum developed considerably fewer ulcers and had less overall damage in the stomach from the H. Pylori than the control group.
These results are very encouraging for those looking for natural and complementary approaches for ulcers and other stomach issues. There are two primary methods to increase your intake of probiotic bacteria such as Bifidobacterium bifidum: food and supplements. Various probiotic strains can be found in fermented foods and some dairy products, such as yogurt and kefir. However, the quantity of these beneficial bacteria in these foods can be low and the variety of strains is often limited.
To achieve higher intake of probiotics, as well as more varied strains, probiotic supplements are a great option. Though, it should be noted that not all probiotic supplements are created equal. The best probiotic formulas have high amounts of bifidobacteria and consist of various strains of probiotic bacteria to provide support to the largest number of people.