Lactobacillus acidophilus is a probiotic bacteria that is naturally produced in the body and several fermented foods. Also known as a beneficial bacteria, studies have shown that it provides a wealth of healthy assistance for the body.
In this article, we explore the best foods to eat to get more lactobacillus acidophilus into your body, as well as what options exist as an alternative to getting your probiotics from food.
What Is Lactobacillus Acidophilus?
Lactobacillus acidophilus, also known as L. acidophilus or just acidophilus, is a probiotic made of beneficial bacteria and live yeast. Usually found in the mouth, intestines, stomach, urinary tract, and vagina, its role is to maintain a healthy and balanced microbiome within the body by breaking down sugars like lactose into lactic acid.
As well as supporting the digestion and metabolism of food, the acidic nature of L. acidophilus is known to promote vaginal health, lower the risk of yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis (BV), reduce the symptoms of lactose intolerance, and help in sustaining a strong immune system.
Although L. acidophilus is naturally produced in the body, underlying health conditions can disrupt the balance of healthy and unhealthy bacteria, allowing harmful bacteria to thrive and ultimately manifest as an infection or illness.
According to research, however, this possible imbalance can be counteracted by regularly consuming L. acidophilus probiotics, either in supplement form or by eating foods that are rich in this healthy bacteria.
Best Foods Containing Lactobacillus Acidophilus
1. Natural Yogurt
As one of the best-known sources of L. acidophilus probiotics, natural yogurt provides several health benefits for the body. Made by fermenting milk with probiotics like lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria, it is believed to be especially helpful for gut health, treating diarrhea, relieving symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome, and maintaining healthy vaginal pH levels.
Due to the live bacteria in natural yogurt, which help in breaking down lactose, it is also known to be beneficial for those who are lactose intolerant.
If you are considering eating yogurt to increase your intake of L. acidophilus, bear in mind that not all yogurt is made with live probiotics, so it’s always best to check the labels for active or live cultures before purchasing.
Even though yogurt might be the most well-known source of natural probiotics when it comes to food, kefir is, in fact, far richer in beneficial bacteria such as L. acidophilus.
Made by combining kefir grains, which are cultures of lactic acid bacteria and yeast, together with cow’s milk or goat’s milk, this potent probiotic is rich in multiple strains of friendly bacteria.
Used by some civilizations for thousands of years, a regular intake of kefir is believed to improve digestion, metabolism, and bone health, as well as defend against infections.
This ancient Chinese delicacy is an incredibly abundant source of L. acidophilus and contains far more beneficial bacteria than yogurt. Made by fermenting finely shredded cabbage in brine, sauerkraut is not only rich in probiotics it is also a great source of fiber, iron, vitamin C, and vitamin K.
Instrumental in improving gut health for many centuries, the plentiful amounts of probiotics in sauerkraut are also known to protect the body against infections.
If you are considering consuming more sauerkraut to increase your intake of L. acidophilus probiotics, steer clear of store-bought sauerkraut, which includes preservatives and undergoes a pasteurization process that kills live cultures and beneficial bacteria. Instead, consider making sauerkraut at home, or purchase a homemade, unpasteurized version from a trusted health store.
This Indonesian-based soybean patty-like food has recently become more popular around the world as a nutritional plant-based meat substitute, and it is an ideal source of probiotics for vegans. Made by fermenting soybeans, tempeh offers a plentiful supply of fiber, vitamin B12, and several strains of beneficial bacteria.
Regular consumption of tempeh is known to improve gut health, and digestive issues, as well as aid in maintaining optimal vaginal health. In addition to the benefits of probiotics, the phytoestrogens found in soybeans also help to keep the vagina lubricated.
Similar to sauerkraut, commercially-produced tempeh goes through a pasteurization process that kills live cultures and beneficial bacteria, so shop around for unpasteurized options online or at your local whole foods store.
This spicy Korean specialty is a vegetable-based dish, fermented and flavored with a mix of garlic, ginger, red chili pepper, salt, and scallions. Although Kimchi is typically made with cabbage, any vegetable can be used.
Containing several lactic acid bacteria, as well as iron and nutritious vitamins, kimchi has long been used in Korea as a side dish to improve digestive health.
Special Mention for Kombucha
Despite it being a drink as opposed to food, kombucha deserves an honorable mention on this list of natural probiotic options. Believed to have originated in North-East China as early as 200 B.C., kombucha is made by fermenting black or green tea with friendly bacteria and yeast.
Although modern research into kombucha is minimal, and no proof exists that it can treat serious conditions like blood pressure or cancer, it is copiously rich in probiotics. Benefits of drinking kombucha daily include a healthy immune system, improved gut health, as well as less constipation and diarrhea.
Probiotic Supplements: For Intestinal & Vaginal Health
If none of the aforementioned foods appeal to your tastebuds, or for allergy reasons you are unable to eat them, probiotic supplements are a great option to optimize your gut health, boost your immune system and ensure your vaginal pH remains balanced and healthy.
For years, probiotic supplements have been widely used to treat digestion problems and intestinal conditions, but more recently they have become popular for improving vaginal health too.
Vaginal probiotic supplements increase beneficial bacteria within the vaginal flora, and the L. acidophilus strain, in particular, is known to prevent harmful bacteria from growing by attaching to the vaginal wall.
In one recent study, for instance, a group of women who were given probiotic supplements as well as antibiotics to treat BV over 30 days, saw cure rates close to 90 percent. Whereas those who received only antibiotics recorded a cure rate closer to 40 percent.
Flora Bloom Probiotics for Women from Intimate Rose also contain added cranberry and D-Mannose, which make it even more difficult for harmful bacteria to grow within the vagina. When taken daily, they can prevent yeast infections, urinary tract infections, and BV, not only from occurring but from recurring too.
Several healthy foods contain beneficial bacteria known as probiotics and consuming them regularly can positively impact the immune system, gut health, and vaginal wellbeing.
Should you suffer from digestion problems, frequent vaginal infections, or a regularly rundown immune system, try including at least one of the above-mentioned foods in your daily diet to increase the amount of lactobacillus acidophilus in your body.
If fermented food is not for you, consider discussing a probiotic supplement with your doctor instead.
National Library of Medicine - Effect of fermented milk containing Bifidobacterium animalis DN-173 010 on the health-related quality of life and symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome in adults - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17635382/
National Library of Medicine - A meta-analysis of probiotic efficacy for gastrointestinal diseases https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22529959/
National Library of Medicine - Antimicrobial and healing activity of kefir and kefiran extract https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15848295/
US Department of Agriculture – Sauerkraut Nutrients- https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1103568/nutrients
National Library of Medicine - Sequence-based analysis of the bacterial and fungal compositions of multiple kombucha (tea fungus) samples https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24290641/
Anukam K, et al. (2006) - Augmentation of antimicrobial metronidazole therapy of bacterial vaginosis with oral probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14: Randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16697231/
A Hallen, C Jarstrand, C Pahlson – Treatment of Bacterial Vaginosis with Lactobacilli - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1523530/
Mayo Clinic – Yeast Infection - https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/yeast-infection/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20379004
Mayo Clinic – Urinary Tract Infection - https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-tract-infection/symptoms-causes/syc-20353447