Lactobacillus casei is a species of lactobacillus bacteria. This specific bacterium is found in the human mouth and intestine. It is a beneficial microorganism and helps to promote other beneficial bacteria and prevents the overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria in the human body. In particular it helps with the growth of beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus.
L. casei is considered beneficial for the digestive process for a number of reasons. Firstly, it has a wide temperature and pH range meaning it can withstand the acidic environment of the gut. It also promotes L. acidophilus which produces the enzyme amylase. This enzyme assists your body in the digestion of carbohydrates, which can help prevent conditions such as constipation and irritable bowel syndrome, according to a study by Reading Laboratory in England.
L. casei is most commonly used in the manufacture of dairy products. It is often used, for example, as lactic acid bacteria in the ripening of cheese such as cheddar and also in the fermentation of Sicilian olives. It is also found in naturally fermented soft cheeses and yoghurt.
In 2007, studies at the University of Reading, U.K., showed that L. casei survives well within the human gastrointestinal tract. This means that it is resistant to lactic acid and bile and can benefit the whole digestive tract. It is available in yoghurt drinks such as Yakult and Actimel. Though L. casei does not reside permanently in the gut it remains for about 10 days after being eaten.
Diarrhoea is commonly observed in critically ill children who have been admitted to hospital for care. According to a 2006 study, there is increasing evidence that probiotics decrease the incidence of acute infectious and nosocomial and antibiotic induced diarrhoea among children hospitalised in nonintensive care settings. L. casei has been used safely and with positive effects for when given to critically ill children suffering form diarrhoea.
Not all strains of L.casei have the same benefits, so you should check the label. The specific strain will be shown in brackets, such as (DN-114001) -- this is the strain found in Actimel and Danactive. If you are buying a probiotic supplement in powder or tablet form you will also need to know the total amount of colony forming units (cfu). In single strain probiotics is may be as high as 50 billion cfu, in combination supplements it may be significantly less.
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