Probiotics are often the center of gut health discussions (and for good reason). The blanket term encompasses more than 500 species of bacteria1—and even more than that when you get into probiotic strains. Acidophilus, or Lactobacillus acidophilus, is one such probiotic species that comes with many science-backed benefits.
Here, we'll break down the benefits of acidophilus probiotics and what you need to know about taking them as a supplement.
What is lactobacillus acidophilus?
Lactobacillus acidophilus is a type of bacterium strain that is found in the mouth, intestine, and vagina. In the intestine, as acidophilus breaks down food, substances are formed that create an uncomfortable environment for "bad" bacteria, thus supporting gut comfort and function.*
Benefits of acidophilus probiotics
"There are many different types of probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, and we are still learning about all of the different types that make up our microbiome (our body's microbial ecosystem)," says registered dietitian Heidi Foster, RDN, L.D. "But acidophilus is one of those strains that has been researched and has been shown to provide us with some health benefits."*
So, what are those benefits? Here are the highlights:
"Bloating can be caused by an imbalance of good-to-bad bacteria in your gut," integrative medicine doctor Amy Shah, M.D., previously told mbg. "Research shows that taking probiotics on a regular basis can support a healthy microbial balance in the gut, which can ease bloating."*
And the science agrees: In a clinical study2, participants who took Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 twice a day for eight weeks started seeing improvements in bloating by week four.* (Both of these gut-health-centric strains happen to be in mbg's probiotic+).
Supports GI function
If you're looking for a probiotic to help support digestion, L. acidophilus should be one of your top choices. The species has been clinically shown to support healthy digestion and frequency of bowel movements3.*
Promotes gut health
Probiotics have an overarching benefit of helping support and elevate your gut microbiome: "Think of probiotics as your little helpers that restore order and help maintain harmony in your gut ecosystem,"* gut health expert Vincent Pedre, M.D., previously told mbg.
How is lactobacillus acidophilus used?
Acidophilus is one of the most common types of probiotics, or "good" bacteria. It can be found in a number of foods and fermented products, such as kombucha, sauerkraut, and miso. You can also take it in a daily probiotic supplement to support gut health.*
Potential side effects
Because probiotics are live organisms and no gut ecosystem is exactly alike, everyone metabolizes them differently, according to Shah. As such, it's possible that you might experience some side effects, usually GI-related, when you first start taking Lactobacillus acidophilus due to changes in the digestive tract.
"Some people experience gas or bloating when first starting any probiotic," says naturopathic doctor Michael Murray, N.D.
Usually, these side effects resolve after a couple of weeks of regular use, but if side effects persist or are especially bothersome, it's a good idea to check in with your health care provider to make sure there's nothing else going on underneath the surface.
Consult with a health care practitioner before taking a probiotic if you have issues with immune system function, Murray suggests.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens when you take acidophilus?
Introducing "good" bacteria to your gut can help to promote healthy digestion. For some, this means a sharper mind, less bloating or more energy.
Is acidophilus good to take daily?
Acidophilus is generally recognized as safe to take daily. You can take it as a supplement and/or eat it in probiotic-rich foods, like yogurt, miso, or tempeh.
Is it better to take acidophilus or probiotics?
Check the label of your supplement, as many probiotics contain acidophilus in them. Otherwise, take a look at the benefits of acidophilus to decide if that is the best strain for you.
How long does it take for acidophilus to work?
This all depends on your body, the strain you are taking, dose, and quality of the supplement. In general, it could take anywhere from days to months to get to work.
Lactobacillus acidophilus is a species of probiotics that has been widely studied on its own and in combination with other probiotic species. Acidophilus has been shown to ease bloating, support GI function, and support overall gut health.* The good news? Certain high-quality probiotics formulated with gut health specifically in mind, like probiotic+, combine several strains of probiotics, including L. acidophilus, so you get everything you need in one convenient capsule.*
Lindsay Boyers is a holistic nutritionist specializing in gut health, mood disorders, and functional nutrition. Lindsay earned a degree in food & nutrition from Framingham State University, and she holds a Certificate in Holistic Nutrition Consulting from the American College of Healthcare Sciences.
She has written twelve books and has had more than 2,000 articles published across various websites. Lindsay currently works full time as a freelance health writer. She truly believes that you can transform your life through food, proper mindset and shared experiences. That's why it's her goal to educate others, while also being open and vulnerable to create real connections with her clients and readers.