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One of the most studied and highly effective Lactobacilli is Lactobacillus reuteri, which is commonly already found in the intestinal mucosa in newborns from the first hours of life, as it is part of the important immune support transmitted from mother to child, providing the first protective action against anti-inflammatory effects in the intestine. It is not by chance that it has proved to be one of the safest probiotic strains used in the field of paediatrics today, where it is not only applied for its great benefits as a probiotic, but also in the cases of irritating gaseous colics that often affects newborns, especially those fed with artificial milk.
In adults, on the other hand, its concentration can decrease in stressful situations and a drop in the immune defences, where it has a beneficial “immunomodulatory” action, inflammatory situations, gastrointestinal infections and prolonged use of antibiotics. To this end, it is particularly useful in cases of diarrhoea, gastroenteritis (offering protection against rotaviruses), irritable bowel syndrome, counteracting the aggravation of diarrhoea and reducing the recovery time needed. It can also show improvements in atopic dermatitis and in infections of the urogenital system (Candida, for example). It acts by producing “reuterin”, a substance with an antimicrobial, lactic and acetic acid activity that counteracts the growth of pathogenic germs such as Escherichia Coli by lowering the pH of the digestive tract. In clinical studies, L. reuteri has also demonstrated resistance to the Salmonella typhimurium bacterium-pathogen that can be contracted from foods considered as high-risk, such as raw meat, eggs and poultry. It is also recommended for the treatment of Helicobacter pylori, which attacks the stomach and causes painful disorders such as gastritis and ulcers.
L. reuteri is also used for oral health, as it prevents the production of Streptococcus mutans, a bacterium that causes tooth decay. L. reuteri also helps to prevent gingivitis (gum disease).
BEYOND THE INTESTINES….
As it has become the subject of an increasing number of on-going studies, there is more and more confirmation that good health of the intestinal flora is a great help for improving cardiovascular health.
If we want to enjoy a healthy heart and good blood circulation, one of the first factors to keep in mind is the necessity of maintaining “safe” blood cholesterol levels, given that hypercholesterolemia is one of the main risks to our cardiovascular health.
Within the many physiological situations in which they are involved and affect our health, probiotic bacteria are proving to be one of the most avant-garde alternatives for controlling the level of cholesterol in the blood through some particular mechanisms.
Lactobacilli, like Lactobacillus reuteri, produce exopolysaccharides, which are fibres that can capture cholesterol and prevent its absorption, and they also produce bile salt hydrolase (BSH), an enzyme complex that reduces intestinal absorption of cholesterol from foods, which are then eliminated through faeces. In fact, like all fats, conjugated bile acids are required in order for the cholesterol to be absorbed. The intake of Lactobacillus reuteri therefore increases the excretion of cholesterol through faeces, breaking the chemical bonds of conjugated bile acids. Further related mechanisms are the object of in-depth analysis, but thanks to this additional action on cardiovascular health, the intake of Lactobacillus reuteri is increasingly being considered complementary to a balanced diet, physical exercise and the use of specific nutraceutical supplements, such as omega 3, citrus bioflavonoids such as bergamot, phytosterols, and vitamin K2.
Lactobacillus reuteri appears and has thus been shown to be a probiotic with a vast field of application for protecting our bodies’ health from childhood onwards, but which continues to present a variety of potential uses.