Lactobacillus casei is one of the good bacteria that provide health benefits to the human body. It is known for its very high resistance to extreme pH and temperature variations. It is one of the probiotics part of the Lactobacillus genus, which includes many bacteria that produce lactic acid. This chemical plays a major role in digestion because it starts fermentation and speeds up break down of food, while providing an immunity boost at the same time. Most species of mammals host probiotic bacteria inside their bodies, especially in the digestive, genital and excretion systems. They also live in a symbiotic relationship with some plants.
The name probiotic means "pro-life" and was given because these bacteria are very useful for health. Their main role is to regulate the digestive function but they also contribute to mental health and can kill pathogens like viruses, bacteria and fungi, providing an overall boost to immunity.
Several varieties of lactic acid bacteria have been classified as probiotics and Lactobacillus casei is one of these beneficial strains. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the species was isolated and identified as an individual strain with probiotic effects. Lactobacillus casei became one of the most important "good" bacteria and has been extensively used and researched ever since. Japanese scientist Minoru Shirota has discovered for example the Shirota strain of Lactobacillus casei in 1930. It has been widely used to produce many Yakult products, being an essential element of the fermentation process.
After Dr. Minoru Shirota discovered the Lactobacillus casei strain that was given his name, the Yakult brand name was registered in 1935. The company still exists today and produces the famous dairy product with the same name. The ingredients are milk powder, water, sugar and various flavours. The key addition is the 6.5 billion colony forming units of Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota that are found in every serving of Yakult. It is extremely popular in Asia, India and the USA but it is available in stores all around the world and probably the most famous Japanese dairy product.
Other strains of Lactobacillus casei are not as famous but they all share the same health benefits provided by this probiotic. They are primarily active inside the digestive system but also live outside of it and regulate multiple body processes.
Besides the human gut, the Lactobacillus casei bacterium is found naturally in some fermented foods such as yogurt and others. Bacteria are often viewed as a threat to health and a source of infection but probiotics such as Lactobacillus casei actually have the opposite effect and provide us with numerous benefits in the fight against pathogens.
There are several natural food sources of L. casei, the most common are milk, yogurt and fermented beverages. Some cheese specialties are also produced by natural fermentation, this probiotic is one of the most numerous bacteria strains found in them. Pickles and green olives that are fermented naturally are also a source of probiotics. However, many pickles are produced today using vinegar, which kills any bacteria present.
Lactobacillus casei is part of the Lactobacillus group, which includes many species of micro-organisms. The urinary tract and digestive system of humans house several varieties of Lactobacillus that have evolved with us in a symbiotic relationship. Pickles, sauerkraut, cheeses, yogurts and other fermented foods are natural sources for these bacteria. L. casei is considered to be a probiotic bacterium that provides multiple benefits to health.
Since Lactobacillus casei plays a natural role in digestion, most of its strains can be used to treat gastric problems. It is active on its own but combining it with other probiotics will guarantee an even stronger effect. The Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology published a study in 2003 that tested the effect of the strain L. casei Shirota on people suffering from chronic constipation. The results revealed significant improvements when a beverage with this species was consumed daily. The British Medical Journal also printed a similar study in 2007. Hospital patients reported less cases of diarrhea caused by infection and antibiotics when they were given a drink with a mix of the strains L. casei, L. bulgaricus and S. thermophilus.
Scientists know today that the composition of gut flora can influence several functions, for example the level of insulin and overall weight. According to a paper published in 2011 in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, obese mice that consumed the Shirota strain of Lactobacillus casei had better insulin resistance after their gut bacteria balance was altered. The International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases published a study in the same year that proved the beneficial effects of L. casei supplements on females suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, with a significant reduction of inflammation markers.
Yogurt is probably the most common food that supplies Lactobacillus casei in the daily diet. Some methods of yogurt production keep the live cultures of Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus acidophilus and other probiotics. The National Yogurt Association displays a visible "Live and Active Cultures" seal on such products. The bacteria names can also be read on the ingredient labels. Probiotic supplements are another important source for this strain.
Humans need a balanced microbiome for a healthy life, which can only develop with the health of the so-called good bacteria. The healthy bacteria that live in the gastrointestinal tract are vital for the strength of the immune system, which can respond faster to infection, pathogens and inflammation.
The bacterium Lactobacillus Casei is included in the group of Lactic Acid Bacteria, also known as LABs. It plays a key role in the conversion of carbohydrates into acids and hydrogen peroxide, working with another probiotic called lactobacillus acidophilus. The result destroys pathogenic bacteria that can't develop in the acidic environment created by these chemicals.
Lactic acid is produced mainly by L. acidophilus, with the help of other healthy bacteria such as Lactobacillus casei. It is a very potent partnership and scientists have discovered that it fights the pathogen Clostridium difficile that causes diarrhea in adults, as well as gastric issues caused by antibiotics.
Kids who suffer from rotavirus can recover faster with the help of this bacterium, as proven by clinical trials. The probiotic changes the pH inside the gut, preventing the growth of most species of harmful bacteria. It creates a very acidic environment that ensures a proper balance between beneficial and harmful bacteria at all times. A healthy population of Lactobacillus casei also contributes to overall health because it occupies the space that could be taken by dangerous germs.
Supplements with L. casei provide several benefits. The most common one is improved digestion but the boost to the immune system is equally important. The gastrointestinal microbiome must always be balanced, otherwise several diseases can occur. The most frequent issues of the gastric tract are diarrhea and chronic constipation, both of which can be treated with supplements of L. casei. This friendly strain can also be used to treat more serious conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn's disease or the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
A disease that can even have fatal consequences is pancreatic necrosis, a very quick and severe inflammation of this internal organ. Lactobacillus casei has been identified as one of the possible natural treatments for it, because it limits the movement of harmful bacteria from the infected pancreas to other areas of the body, where they can start multiple problems.