Each different strain of probiotic is able to improve different aspects of your health better than others so it’s important to choose the right ones. Bifidobacterium infantis is one of these powerhouse strains. We’ve done all the research to get you the insider scoop on what it is, what it does and how it does it.
So what is Bifidobacterium infantis?
Bifidobacterium infantis (B. infantis) is a species of probiotic that belongs to the family ‘Bifidobacteria’ which live in your intestines and stomach. They are healthy bacteria that confer health benefits onto their host – that’s you.
Bifidobacterium is a lactic acid bacteria that produces vitamins, digests fibres, sugars and complex carbs and fights off infections from bacteria that’s not as friendly. Overall, probiotics in this family improve digestion and boost the immune system but each strain within this group have their own strengths, making up a powerhouse of beneficial bacteria together.
Specifically, B. infantis is the best strain at breaking down the complex sugars and lactic acid in breast milk – which is why it’s named with babies in mind. Despite this, though, it also benefits children and adults so it shouldn’t be overlooked.
B. infantis can be consumed in many ways, you can find it in fermented food and drinks or you can consume it as a daily supplement in powder, tablet or capsule form – which is usually the most convenient way.
Is Bifidobacterium infantis right for me?
It all depends on what you’re wanting B. infantis to help you with. Generally though, it’s a safe and natural alternative to many other medicines. As you’ve already got probiotics in your gut, introducing a few more isn’t usually going to cause a negative reaction. Your body is already somewhat used to them. If you’re unsure though, it’s always best to have a chat to your doctor beforehand.
And be sure to steer clear of probiotics all together if you fall into any of the below categories:
- Individuals with a compromised immune system or taking immunosuppressive medication
- Individuals who are critically ill
- Individuals who’ve undergone surgery recently
Benefits of Bifidobacterium infantis
Now that you know what B. infantis is and where it comes from. Next we’re going to find out what it can do and how it can benefit our health in everyday life. Keep reading till the end because we’re also going to explore possible side effects and a few of the best probiotics on the market containing our superstar strain. This will give you a benchmark when purchasing your own probiotics.
Utilises sugars in breast milk
This is an important one for the mums and bubs out there. Babies are given their first full dose of bacteria as they go through the birth canal but their microbial journey doesn’t stop there.
As mentioned above, B. infantis is found in abundance in breast milk, so infants who are breastfed have the highest concentrations of it. In fact, it’s estimated that infants can ingest from 10 to 100 million bacterial cells from breast milk each day with all different kinds of strains included.
If you’re breastfeeding, you probably already know how beneficial it is for your bub. B. infantis is the probiotic responsible for breaking down the sugars in your milk and allowing your baby to fully utilize them. Without this probiotic, the complex sugars in your breast milk are actually indigestible to humans – so B. infantis is something you’re going to want to have a lot of!
This breakdown of the sugars in your breast milk will also mean B. infantis is producing acetic acid that keep fungus and yeast under control whilst providing a valuable source of energy for your baby’s growing body.
Produces folate and sialic acid for healthy development in babies
Most expecting mums have heard about folate. It’s vitamin B9 and is essential for healthy growth and development of your baby. It also assists with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen in the blood and remove carbon dioxide from the body.
B. infantis actually produces folate along with sialic acid which is another essential nutrient for the healthy brain development of your baby. This sialic acid is produced when B. infantis breaks down the complex sugars in your breast milk.
Another cool thing that B. infantis does for your baby is signalling their gut cells to fill in the gaps in their intestinal walls with proteins. Filling in these gaps means that toxins and unfriendly bacteria can’t slip through the wall and into their bloodstream to wreak all kinds of havoc.
But it doesn’t stop there! Because B. infantis is so abundant in breast milk, breastfed babies will have a gut that is dominated by this strain of probiotic, which means the bad bacteria doesn’t have any space to thrive and will be flushed out of their tiny body. Ultimately, bub is going to have a bulletproof gut that promotes healthy immune and development which will become the basis of their overall health throughout their life.
Like most probiotic strains, their anti-inflammatory properties are simply amazing. Whilst controlling around 70% of your immune response they can help to modulate inflammation in particular.
Inflammation is a crucial part of healing but sometimes the body can go a little overboard and damage healthy tissue. B. infantis is able to reduce this risk which has awesome benefits in the long-run. It will help ease the symptoms of a huge range of conditions like IBS (explored in the next paragraph), inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, ulcerative colitis, chronic fatigue and more. By reducing excessive inflammation in the body, this means that you’re also less likely to develop chronic diseases later in life like diabetes and dementia.
Relieves IBS symptoms
Around one in five Australians will experience Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) at some point in their lives and women are affected 2-3 times more than men. Whilst it affects so many people, the exact causes and a way to cure it completely has not been found yet due to this condition’s complexity. IBS comes with many uncomfortable and inconvenient symptoms like abdominal pain, changes to stool frequency, bloating and more that are triggered by different factors for every person. This could be stress, food allergies, diets with high amounts of sugar and spicy food, some medication – the list goes on.
Around 5 studies were analysed that closely monitored the effect of B. infantis and other probiotic strains on the symptoms of IBS; mainly abdominal pain, bloating/distention and bowel habits. It was observed that B. infantis on its own didn’t have much of an effect at all, but when combined with other probiotics it created a dramatic improvement for the symptoms mentioned above. The singular effects of this strain need to be studied more but if you’re taking probiotics for IBS, these studies show that B. infantis is a must-have.
Click here for some of the best probiotics for IBS.
Top 3 Bifidobacterium infantis probiotic products
As promised, we’ve taken a look at products containing B. infantis on the market right now and have detailed our top choices below so that you have a benchmark on what to expect when you’re shopping for your perfect probiotic.
#1 Earth’s Pearl Probiotic & Prebiotic
Prebiotics are tiny, indigestible fibres that act as a food source for probiotics. Just like us, probiotics need food to thrive and work to their full potential so having a synbiotic product like this one is a huge advantage. This product contains 5 different strains of friendly bacteria including B. infantis and delivers around 4 billion colony forming units (CFU) per pearl. This means that you get a great dose of probiotics and the range of strains ensures all your major health benefits will be covered, like immune and digestive improvements, along with all the benefits B. infantis brings to the table.
Pearls instead of capsules
Whilst capsules and tablets might be a bit difficult to swallow for some individuals, pearls are a fraction of the size so will go down a lot easier. This brand also claims to carry technology in their pearls that ensures up to 15 times more probiotics will make it to your intestines alive and ready to get to work.
Price: $19.81 (60 pearls) on Amazon
- Contains prebiotic
- Pearls instead of capsules/tablets
- 6 strains of probiotic
- Once daily dose
- 4 billion CFU is a small amount compared to other brands
#2 Lifted Naturals Mood Boosting Probiotic
Targeted “feel good” strains
Along with a focus on digestion and immune support, this product has also focuses on mood-lifting and anxiety fighting probiotic strains and one type of prebiotic. There are nine strains in total, with B. infantis being the most prevalent one, and each once-a-day capsule contains 30 billion CFU. So if you’re someone who suffers from anxiety or would like a bit of a mental boost along with immune and digestive benefits then this might be the product for you.
Price: $22.69 (60 capsules) on Amazon
- Focus on mental health
- 9 different strains
- Contains prebiotic
- No refrigeration needed
- Once daily dose
- 30 billion CFU per serving
- No enteric coating on capsules to protect bacteria from stomach acid so must be taken with meals
#3 Align Probiotic
Good for beginners
If you’re new to the probiotic game, Align Probiotics is a great place to start. With 1 billion CFU of B. infantis you’ll get all of the targeted benefits that this strain provides without a huge onslaught of CFU introduced to your gut – just enough to experience great results.
If you’re lactose intolerant or allergic to milk then it may be best to steer clear of this product. Whilst it may not be enough to experience any negative effects, there are other probiotic products out there that don’t contain this common allergen and will be better suited to your needs.
Price: $39.89 (56 capsules) on Amazon
- Targeted strain B. infantis
- Great for beginners
- Well-known probiotic manufacturers
- Once daily dose
- More expensive than other brands
- Only 1 billion CFU per serving
- Contains milk
Are there any side-effects of taking Bifidobacterium infantis?
As mentioned in the start of this article, taking any kind of probiotic is generally safe and harmless because the friendly bacteria are already in your gut. Additionally, if you do happen to overdo it a little, your body will simply flush out any excess probiotics with normal daily functions. There may be some mild side effects when first taking probiotics, however, as your body may not be used to such a large dose of friendly bacteria. Here’s what you might experience:
Possible side effects:
- Mild digestive issues – As with most new supplements, some small teething issues may occur. Gas and bloating along with mild digestive discomfort might be experienced whilst your body is getting used to such a bit hit of probiotics each day. This is nothing to worry about and will disappear after about two weeks, but let your doctor know if it doesn’t or if it’s anything more than some mild discomfort.
- Allergic reactions – Double check the label when purchasing a probiotic product because it could contain a common allergen or two that might disagree with you. Soy, dairy and egg can sometimes be used in these products as you saw in our probiotic product section above.
- Risk of infection – As mentioned at the beginning of this article, anyone with a compromised immune system, taking immunosuppressant medication or those who have undergone surgery recently should chat to a doctor beforehand to make sure it’s okay to consume probiotics.
This probiotic strain has a heap of amazing and unique health benefits to benefit you throughout your whole life. Expectant mothers should make sure that Bifidobacterium infantis is on their radar because it’s going to be transferred to their newborn via their nutritious breast milk. Healthy development and growth, energy, folate and sialic acid production and reinforcement of the intestinal lining to bolster your baby’s immune system are just a few of the amazing benefits your child will experience.
As an adult, the immune benefits will carry over as well as some serious IBS relief and anti-inflammatory goodness to ease symptoms of diseases now and prevent chronic diseases in the future. B. infantis will stick with you throughout your life so be sure to consider including it when you’re buying your next probiotic product.