Did you know the human microbiome is made up of over 1500 different microorganisms (that live on inside us) counting for around 100 trillion cells encoded by 3.3 million different non-human genes?
For comparison, the human body consists of 37 trillion cells encoded by 23,000 human genes. It’s safe to say these cells are significantly outnumbered by those living in our microbiome! This large group of organisms within our microbiome is made up of archaea, fungi, viruses and other microbes, as well as bacteria. There’s a lot to be said for introducing additional microorganisms to support this balanced community in our gut. One of them - probiotics.
What are ‘probiotics’?
Derived from Greek, ‘probiotics’ literally translates as ‘for life’ (as opposed to antibiotics which means ‘against life’). By definition, probiotics are “live microorganisms that when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host” (Hill et al., 2014).
Based on this definition, it is evident that to achieve true ‘probiotic’ status, a microorganism must fulfill the following criteria:
- The microorganism must be alive at time of ingestion
- Ingested in a dosage high enough to cause an effect
- The ingested live microorganisms need to grant a beneficial effect to the host in order to be a probiotic
They can be drawn from the sources listed below:
- Humans (cultivated from human intestines or colostrum contained in breast milk)
- Animal or Dairy
- Fermented Vegetables & Certain Grains (such as sauerkraut, kimchi and sourdough bread)
- Agricultural Land
Introducing Lactobacillus Casei
One of the world’s most documented strains of probiotics, Lactobacillus Casei is a dairy derived probiotic, which has been described in over 90 scientific publications and more than 20 clinical studies. The substantial amount of clinical data from these studies has indicated that Lactobacillus Casei may have beneficial effects in the gastrointestinal and immune areas:
- May enhance the immune response
- May reduce the incidence of upset stomach
- May reduce the duration of runny nose, cough and sore throat as well as discomforts usually experienced during the cold season, e.g. high body temperature, body aches, etc.
Studies on Immune Function
As previously mentioned, there have been over 20 clinical studies carried out on Lactobacillus Casei. In particular, three focused on the administration and effect of Lactobacillus Casei on the immune function in humans. This includes a study by De Vrese et at (2012) which is currently the world’s largest clinical study on the immune effect of probiotics in adults. All three studies are published, randomised, double-blind and controlled trials (total participants 1104). A vaccine was used in each of the trials to challenge the immune system in a controlled manner, with Lactobacillus Casei injected into acidified milk.
The available evidence from the studies indicated that there was a “causal relationship between intake of Lactobacillus Casei and immune function in adults”, with benefits to the immune system in adults consuming a daily intake of Lactobacillus Casei (with intake defined as at least 1 billion colony-forming units (CFU)).
Scientific Evidence on the Lactobacillus Casei Strain within Immune Health
- Randomized double-blinded placebo-controlled study with 1104 adults consuming the L. CASEI 431® strain or placebo for 42 days.
- The L. CASEI 431® strain was shown to significantly reduce duration of discomforts such as sore throat/muscles, runny nose and fatigue in a three week period.
The graph above illustrates the results of consuming Lactobacilllus Casei, versus a placebo. The findings were a substantial decrease (three days) in the duration of discomforts such as fatigue, runny nose and a sore throat/muscles. If you would like some additional resources on probiotics, head over to the CHR Hansen website, found here. For more information on these studies, see full reference below, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Study 1: Jespersen et al. Effect of Lactobacillus paracasei subsp. paracasei, L. casei 431 on immune response to inﬂuenza vaccination and upper respiratory tract infections in healthy adult volunteers: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study, Am J Clin Nutr 2015;101:1188–96.
Study 2: Rizzaedini et al., Evaluation of the immune beneﬁts of two probiotic strains Biﬁdobacterium animalis ssp. lactis, BB-12 ® and Lactobacillus paracasei ssp. paracasei, L. casei 431 ® in an inﬂuenza vaccination model: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, British Journal of Nutrition 2012;107: 876–84.
Study 3: De Vrese et al., Probiotic bacteria stimulate virus-specific neutralizing antibodies following a booster polio vaccination, Eur J Nutr 2005;44:406–413.