What is Bifidobacterium? How to get it?

Is Bifidobacterium dangerous?

Contrary to popular advice on TV, not all bacteria are harmful to us. Our body stores billions of helpful bacteria that perform functions vital to our wellbeing.

Probiotics are one of the essential classes of bacteria that help us manage our immunity, digestion and energy.

Bifidobacterium is one of the most potent ‘helpful bacteria’ that plays a significant role in our physical and mental health. If you are keen to take advantage of the power of this gut superhero, Keep reading…..

Where does Bifidobacterium live?

Bifidobacterium Kefirwala
Bifidobacterium (c) kenyon.edu

Bifidobacterium resides in your small intestine, the hub filled billions of other friendly bacteria that help you digest your food.  There are about 50 different species of these bacteria which perform specific tasks within the body.

They typically make up about 10% of the total microbiome in our gut. Of all the different varies of Bifidobacterium, one species called Bifidobacterium bifidum (B. bifidum) has become very popular these days.

A breastfed infant’s gut is primarily filled with different types of Bifidobacterium.

Functions of Bifidobacterium

The Bifido family of bacteria plays a significant role in digesting fibres and other complex carbs in our body. It helps in reducing weight gain, minimise the risk of diabetes and many other chronic conditions, including heart disease.

The bacteria also produces essential chemicals like short-chain fatty acids and B vitamins.

Apart from their digestive functions, Bifidobacterium produces certain chemicals that help prevent toxins from entering the bloodstream.

Causes behind loss of gut bacteria

If you took an antibiotic to fight an infection, the medicine will clear out your gut and gets rid of all bacteria, good and bad. Radiation therapy, diarrhoea and chemotherapy also have a similar effect on your gut.

Once your health issue is cleared, it is crucial to consume probiotic-rich food to replenish your gut with the friendly microorganisms. Here are some of the food items you can consume to add good bacteria to your tummy.

  1. Curd – limited strands of bacteria
  2. Fermented drinks like Kefir Milk and Kefir water – Excellent source
  3. Fermented vegetables – Good Source
  4. Kimchi, Tempeh, Miso – Excellent source
  5. Sauerkraut – Good probiotic source. But avoid it if you have thyroid issues
  6. sourdough bread – Excellent source, hard to find
  7. Tablets – Quick but not the most effective way

Uses of B. bifidum

Bifido family of bacteria has several applications, apart from good health.  If you are suffering from constipation, take these bacteria in the form of kefir milk (or kefir water) before sleeping.

For Ulcerative Colitis, best results can be obtained by drinking about 100 ml of kefir milk and 2-3 grams of live kefir grains. To get the best results, purchase kefir grains and ferment at home, as your grains grow, eat some of them.

If you have irritable bowel syndrome, consume about 100 ml of fermented drink daily. Start with one spoon of kefir drink for the first week.

Recently studies have also shown that probiotics that include Bifidobacteria can help reduce feelings of depression

What to consume to increase it in your gut?

Add the following food to your diet to ensure your body has the right quantity of probiotics.

  1. Kefir milk / Curd/ Buttermilk and other Probiotic foods.
  2. Prebiotics foods like banana, garlic, onion, veggies and fruits. Prebiotics are carbs that will help the gut bacteria to grow. In a way, these are the food for the probiotics you take.
  3. Whole grains like Oats and Barley.
  4. Fermented veggies. You can do this at home by using kefir water. Clean and soak vegetables in half and half clean water and fermented water (kefir water) in a clear glass jar. Leave it for 24-48 hours. Consume the liquid and solid parts.
Easy way to add this friendly bacteria to your body

Drinking a cup of good kefir milk is the best way to increase the presence of bifido in your gut. Kefir contains about 70 different strains of healthy bacteria, including Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Streptococcus thermophilus, and a few dozen other vital bacteria.

You can either buy ready to drink kefir in Bangalore or buy the Milk Kefir Grains and prepare fermented milk on your own.