Many of us have heard the words ‘bifidus’ or 'probiotics' but don’t fully understand what they mean. Here’s what you need to know about our body's natural bacteria.
Bifidus is short for 'bifidobacteria', a kind of bacteria that lives in the large intestine. This is a good bacterium to have, as it helps break down sugars and produce acids in the digestive system. These kinds of friendly micro-organisms are commonly known as ‘probiotics’.
Having a good level of bifidus in the digestive system helps the immune system do its job, creating immunity against stomach inflammation and other illnesses. It helps the digestive system move smoothly, and may also help prevent urinary tract infections and thrush.
Bifidus and your baby
Research has found that breastfed babies have high levels of bifidus in their digestive tract. This naturally helps safeguard breastfed babies from illness.
For babies who have less of this bacteria – such as those who are weaning and starting on solid foods, or who are formula-fed – it can be a good idea to add bifidus to the diet to ensure the digestive tract and immune system stay in good shape. Some also say eczema symptoms can be eased with probiotics.
Bifidus can be easily added to your baby's diet via some baby cereals and formulas.
Probiotics and you
Probiotics that include bifidus can be especially helpful for those who suffer from stomach ailments, as they can help restore the natural levels of bacteria in the intestines.
Drinking alcohol and taking antibiotics can kill the good bacteria in the digestive system, and can lead to diarrhoea, thrush and other side effects. Taking probiotics can also help safeguard against this.
These can be found in some natural yoghurts or dairy drinks - check the label - and in probiotic tablets and powders from health food stores and pharmacies.