If you think of your lower digestive tract as a
pathway through a forest, then the trees along
that path would be the various bacteria to which
the human body plays host. One of the most
useful and friendly bacteria in this environment
is the species called "bifidobacterium breve."
Also known as B breve, this bacteria is
anaerobic and non-motile. Its branches are
rod-shaped, looking almost like a cactus in the
microscopic view. Once established, B breve is
unique in its ability to compete with other
bacteria, due to the large variety of molecules
it can digest. Some people have a great deal of
this helpful bacteria, but others may need a
supplement to encourage its presence.
The symbiotic relationship that humans have with
bacteria is particularly important in the
functioning of the colon. In medical studies,
ailments such as antibiotic-associated diarrhea,
allergies, gas, and irritable bowel syndrome
have been linked to a patient's shortage of the
B breve bacteria. The presence of B breve
appears to inhibit E coli. B breve is also
present in the vagina, where it helps to inhibit
overproduction of candida albicans, also known
as the primary cause of yeast infections in
In young babies who are breast-fed, B breve has
been found to make up a majority of the colon's
bacteria. It appears that as we age, many people
lose a large number of the B breve bacteria
until it makes up less than ten percent of the
digestive-related bacteria count. Less helpful
bacteria which do not have the same immune
benefits as B breve may over-colonize the human
body during times of illness or stress, but you
can change the odds of being a "good host" to B
breve. By encouraging the robust workers such as
B breve, digestive-related illnesses and their
associated discomfort may be discouraged or
The job of B breve in the digestive tract is to
ferment sugars and produce lactic acid as well
as acetic acid. B breve is like a champion among
probiotic bacteria due to its superior ability
to break down many types of food, even plant
fibers that are normally considered
Supplementing B breve where it has become a
"minority partner" can help to recapture the
digestive benefits found in a healthy baby. If B
breve can be encouraged in the digestive tract,
the occurrence of gas, diarrhea, and bowel
irritations may be reduced. Some doctors have
referred to these supplements as a way of
"promoting your gut health." As a partner in the
digestive process, B breve comes to the table as
a highly recommended worker.
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Mikelsaar M (October 2001). "Allergy development
and the intestinal microflora during the first
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A MD, PhD, Penna, Francisco J MD, PhD, Lima,
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Randomized Formula Controlled Trial of
Bifidobacterium lactis and Streptococcus
thermophilus for Prevention of
Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea in Infants."
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39(5):385-389, May/June 2005.
- Guarner F, Malagelada JR (February 2003). "Gut
flora in health and disease". Lancet 361 (9356):
- Isselbacher, Kurt J. "Irritable bowel
syndrome: the possible benefits of probiotics."
Post Graduate Medicine. vol 117, no.5 (2005).
- Leahy, S, et al. "The genome sequence of
Bifidobacterium breve." University College Cork,
- Reinert, Birgit. "Friendly tenants in the
human gut: The genome of B. longum." 2002.
Genome News Network.
- Schell MA, Karmirantzou M, Snel B, Vilanova D,
Berger B, Pessi G, Zwahlen MC, Desiere F, Bork
P, Delley M, Pridmore RD, Arigoni F (October
2002). "The genome sequence of Bifidobacterium
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