You have had problems with your digestion for a long time and often suffer from diarrhoea? Have you ever heard of bifidobacteria?
There are about 40 trillion bacteria in your body, most of which are in your gut. All the bacteria in your digestive system are known as gut flora and are hugely important to your health. Most important here is the
Bifidobacteria, which can help you keep your gut healthy.
The digestive system is a complicated and important part of the body. The digestive system helps your body absorb essential nutrients and is responsible for getting rid of harmful substances.
Digestive problems can have several causes. Find out how you can best counteract this illness with the help of bifidobacteria in our big bifidobacteria test 2021.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 The most important facts
- 3 The Best Bifidobacteria: Our Picks
- 4 Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying bifidobacteria
- 4.1 What are bifidobacteria?
- 4.2 Where are bifidobacteria found?
- 4.3 What effect do bifidobacteria have?
- 4.4 What types of bifidobacteria are there?
- 4.5 When should bifidobacteria be taken?
- 4.6 How should bifidobacteria be taken?
- 4.7 Do bifidobacteria have side effects?
- 4.8 What alternatives are there to bifidobacteria?
- 4.9 How much do bifidobacteria cost?
- 5 Decision: Which types of bifidobacteria are there and which is the right one for you?
- 6 Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate bifidobacteria based on these factors
- 7 Interesting facts about bifidobacteria
The most important facts
- Bifidobacteria are counted among the probiotics. These healthy intestinal bacteria occur in different species and their functions are also different.
- With a share of almost 90 per cent, bifidobacteria form the largest group of beneficial intestinal bacteria. Bifidobacteria are mainly found in the large intestine.
- In the intestinal flora of an adult, about 25 per cent bifidobacteria are present. In newborns, the proportion is more than 90 per cent.
The Best Bifidobacteria: Our Picks
Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying bifidobacteria
What are bifidobacteria?
Bifidobacteria are useful for the whole organism. The bacteria produce lactic acid and this creates an environment in the intestine that makes it difficult for harmful bacteria to multiply. (1)
With age, the number of bifidobacteria decreases and the intake of antibiotics also has a negative influence on the spread of the useful intestinal bacteria. (2)
Bifidobacteria are a type of bacteria from the genus Bifidobacterium. They are rod-shaped bacteria that do not actively move around, do not form spores and often appear in club form.
The bacteria fight pathogens and harmful bacterial cultures in the digestive tract. To maintain their metabolism, bifidobacteria do not need oxygen.
This allows them to survive in the large intestine. Dietary fibre and undigested carbohydrates form the nutritional basis of the bacterial strain, which under ideal conditions settles permanently in the intestine.
Where are bifidobacteria found?
The bacteria are mainly found in the large intestine, but can also be found in the appendix. It is also found in the vagina of healthy women.
What effect do bifidobacteria have?
The effectiveness of selected probiotic strains in the prophylaxis and therapy of chronic inflammatory, infectious and allergic diseases has been proven in prospective, controlled studies. (3)
Their main function is to digest the sugars in breast milk.
The proliferation of harmful intestinal bacteria is further prevented by the release of the toxin bifidin.
Bifidobacteria are thus able to fight salmonella, coliform bacteria and putrefactive bacteria. The production of antibodies is stimulated and the immune system is strengthened.
There is worldwide evidence that probiotic lactobacilli and bifidobacteria can have a positive effect on digestive problems and functional disorders of the intestine (e.g. irritable colon).
A clinical study now shows a significant effect of Bifidobacterium on the reduction of such mild digestive complaints. The culture of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis and other lactic acid bacteria also improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome after four weeks. (4)
The effect of bifidobacteria can be summarised as follows:
|Mode of action||Explanation|
|Diarrhoea||Bifidobacteria help normalise stool consistency and act against intestinal wind, Researchers now believe that a lack of bifidobacteria can trigger IBS.|
|Immune system||Bifidobacteria produce vitamins that can be absorbed via the intestinal mucosa, The production of antibodies is stimulated via various signalling pathways.|
|Vaginal infections||Since bifidobacteria also colonise the vagina, there is protection against vaginal infections.|
Bifidobacteria also become active in the woman's vagina and act against vaginal fungi and harmful germs. (1)
What types of bifidobacteria are there?
You will find the probiotic in some types of yoghurt. In over 40 publications it can be read that this bacterial strain helps to improve the intestinal environment and contributes to a stable immune system.
The ability to produce immunoglobulin A (IgA) helps protect the intestinal mucosa. There is also evidence of a positive effect on diarrhoea caused by taking antibiotics.
The following harmful bacteria can be inhibited in their spread:
- Escheria coli
If Bifidobacterium longum is taken, the presence of bifidobacteria in the intestinal flora increases. At the same time, harmful putrefactive bacteria and their products, such as ammonia, are reduced.
Bifidobacterium longum is used in premature babies to stimulate the colonisation of the intestine with bifidobacteria.
Likewise, an appropriate dietary supplement pays off in old age when the number of bifidobacteria in the colon decreases significantly.
|Type of bacteria||occurrence||effect|
|Bifidobacterium adolescentis||large intestine of infants and children, severely depleted in adults due to poor diet and stress factors||treatment of infant diarrhoea, maintenance of healthy intestinal flora|
|Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. Lactis||intestinal mucosa, resistant to stomach acid and bile salts||highly effective as a probiotic|
|Bifidobacterium bifidum||large intestine of infants and children||acidifies the large intestine, strengthens the immune system, produces vitamin B|
|Bifidobacterium infantis||large intestine of infants, later replaced by Bifidobacterium bifidum||participates in digestion, produces vitamin B|
When should bifidobacteria be taken?
Sustained success usually requires a longer intake period of between eight weeks and several years.
For some diseases, it can be assumed that you will be taking them for a long time. This should be discussed with a doctor. It is also recommended to take bifidobacteria during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
How should bifidobacteria be taken?
If the bacterial cultures hardly come into contact with stomach acid, most of them arrive alive in the intestine and can take effect directly. It is best to take the preparation in the morning on an empty stomach or about half an hour before eating.
Do bifidobacteria have side effects?
Sensitive reactions cannot be ruled out in people who have a weakened immune system or in babies whose intestinal flora does not seem stable enough.
Assumptions that the intake of bifidobacteria could lead to an overstimulation of the immune system have not yet been scientifically confirmed.
What alternatives are there to bifidobacteria?
The following foods should be on the menu as often as possible:
- Apple cider vinegar
Alternatively, dietary supplements with lactobacilli can be used. These lactic acid bacteria also ensure an intact intestinal flora and help against digestive complaints and diarrhoea.
Prebiotics serve as a food source so that bifidobacteria can settle and multiply in the intestine.
These indigestible dietary fibres are preferentially utilised by bifidobacteria and are thus not so much considered an alternative, but rather serve to support a successful intake of bifidobacteria.
How much do bifidobacteria cost?
For a high-quality product containing about 180 capsules, you will have to spend about 20 euros. Special culture complexes for regular use can cost almost 40 euros.
Decision: Which types of bifidobacteria are there and which is the right one for you?
Basically, you can distinguish between three different types of bifidobacteria:
- Bifidobacteria Capsules
- Bifidobacteria tablets
- Bifidobacteria Powder
To make your search for the perfect bifidobacteria for you easier, we will go into more detail about the different types in the next section. We will also explain the advantages and disadvantages of the probiotics so that you can get a good overview of their properties.
What distinguishes bifidobacteria capsules and what are the advantages and disadvantages?
Once you get used to taking capsules, you won't want to miss the easy and convenient administration. Enclosed in a handy capsule, the desired dose of the active ingredient is always available.
Capsule can be conveniently taken on the go. If capsules contain probiotics, however, they have a shorter shelf life and should be stored in a cool place. To ensure that the bacteria reach the intestine alive, it is often even recommended to store them in the refrigerator.
If it is freeze-dried bifidobacteria, no refrigeration is necessary and the bacteria have a longer shelf life and react less sensitively. If you do not want to swallow the capsules, you can usually open them. Only capsules with liquid contents should not be opened.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of bifidobacteria tablets?
Bifidobacteria tablets contain compressed powder and other additives. They often contain fillers and anti-caking agents. A look at the information on the ingredients provides certainty.
Tablets last longer than capsules and are also pre-dosed. Those who share the tablets can adjust the dosage individually and will continue to have fewer problems swallowing the tablets.
The number of living bacteria can vary greatly. Comparatively few bacteria survive during compression. Capsules are the better choice in this respect.
What distinguishes bifidobacteria powder and what are the advantages and disadvantages?
Powdered bifidobacteria have the advantage of individual dosage. There are also no ingestion problems and babies and small children can also be supplied with probiotics.
Probiotic powder is often enriched with a prebiotic to provide a food base for the live bacterial strains. Sugar is also often included. Since the activation time of the bacteria is shifted by the additives, fewer viable cultures enter the intestine.
Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate bifidobacteria based on these factors
In the following we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate bifidobacteria. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a particular bifidobacterium is suitable for you or not.
In summary, these are:
- Shelf life
- Dosage form
You can read about how the individual purchase criteria should be interpreted and evaluated in the following sections.
If you want to take bifidobacteria, you can use mixtures of individual types of the bacterial strain and also find preparations where bifidobacteria are combined with lactobacilli. They may also contain additional vitamins.
When buying, pay attention to the proportion of bifidobacteria. The proportion of living bacteria is also important.
Only bacteria that reach the intestine alive can achieve the desired effect.
Therefore, it will be of little use to switch to supposedly inexpensive products whose proportion of live bifidobacteria is low or is not indicated on the packaging at all.
If you decide to take bifidobacteria capsules, start by getting a practical month's supply. This way you can get used to the preparation and take into account the short shelf life of the live cultures.
Pay attention to the packaging label "Number of living microorganisms at filling". The manufacturer should guarantee this number until the expiry of the best-before date.
The food supplements should be stored in a cool, dry place. Bifidobacteria capsules react particularly sensitively and often belong in the refrigerator. Tablets are less sensitive and do not need to be refrigerated.
We have already discussed the dosage forms in more detail. You now know that capsules contain a particularly large number of living microorganisms, but they are also difficult to take.
The dosage form should be chosen depending on the application and the goal of the treatment. If babies and children are also to be supplied with the food supplement, powder is the best choice. This can be individually dosed and easily taken.
If digestive problems or irritable bowel syndrome need to be treated, the highly effective capsules are certainly the best option. Tablets are inexpensive and have a long shelf life, making them good as a starter and for occasional use.
Food supplements are not subject to the guidelines of a medicinal product. Nevertheless, every buyer should sensitise himself to purchase a product of the highest possible quality, which guarantees the best possible effect.
We advise against supposed bargains. On the other hand, check exactly where the product is manufactured and where the raw materials come from. Production according to European standards is preferable.
Some packaging also contains references to regular laboratory tests and the manufacturers guarantee the organic quality of their products.
Interesting facts about bifidobacteria
Bifidobacteria support intestinal health and keep the microbiome in balance. Harmful bacteria and germs have no chance.
If you want to contribute to your intestinal health in the future by taking probiotics, this concluding information will certainly be of interest to you.
Do bifidobacteria occur in breast milk?
Breastfed babies have a particularly high proportion of bifidobacteria, which are passed on through the mother's milk. In this way, breast milk builds up a natural protection against pathogens.
Studies have shown that breastfed babies suffer less often from infections than babies who are fed industrial baby food. Research has also shown that breast milk can stimulate the growth of existing bifidobacteria. (5)
How can the effect of bifidobacteria be supported by the daily diet?
Bifidobacteria need nourishment. They get this when you eat enough indigestible dietary fibres. These cannot be utilised in the small intestine and require glucose metabolism in the large intestine.
A healthy diet rich in fibre is good for healthy intestinal bacteria. If, on the other hand, you eat more meat and fat, you feed the harmful intestinal bacteria.
These bacteria produce toxic substances from the unhealthy food components, which disturb the balance in the intestines and cause digestive problems.
Are normal dairy products enough to supply me with bifidobacteria?
Even yoghurt from the supermarket contains living lactic acid bacteria. About 30 percent of them actually reach the intestine after consumption. The effect is present, but limited.
Studies have shown that conventional yoghurt cultures with bifidobacteria cannot compete with food supplements. In addition, there are major differences between individual manufacturers and the proportion of live cultures varies.
Therefore, you should not rely on a probiotic yoghurt if you want to specifically build up your microbiome and influence it positively.
(Image source: pixabay.com/silviarita)
de Vries W, Stouthamer AH. Pathway of glucose fermentation in relation to the taxonomy of bifidobacteria. J Bacteriol. 1967 Feb; 93(2): 574–576.
Albert Palleja, Kristian H. Mikkelsen, Sofia K. Forslund, et al. Recovery of gut microbiota of healthy adults following antibiotic exposure. Nature Microbiology, (2018); volume 3, pages1255–1265.
Gibson GR1, Beatty ER, Wang X, Cummings JH. Selective stimulation of bifidobacteria in the human colon by oligofructose and inulin. Gastroenterology. 1995 Apr;108(4):975-82.
Marteau P, Le Nevé B, Quinquis L, Pichon C, Whorwell PJ, Guyonnet D. Consumption of a Fermented Milk Product Containing Bifidobacterium lactis CNCM I-2494 in Women Complaining of Minor Digestive Symptoms: Rapid Response Which Is Independent of Dietary Fibre Intake or Physical Activity. Nutrients. 2019 Jan 4;11(1). pii: E92.
?Ana Soto, Virginia Martı ́n, Esther Jime ́nez, Isabelle Mader, ?Juan M. Rodrı ́guez, Leonides Ferna ́ndez. Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria in Human Breast Milk: Influence of Antibiotherapy and Other Host
and Clinical Factors. JPGN 2014;59: 78–88.