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Support healthy cholesterol, metabolism, digestion and heart health

Monday, 22 October 2018  |  Editor

Not all live bacteria products are equal, and there are a baffling number of choices. With so much research into the gut microbiome, we are becoming increasingly aware of the many amazing benefits that different strains can have on our biological ecosystem. 

At BioCare® we are always keen to look out for new and exciting research, and when looking for new probiotic strains, we want to be absolutely sure that we choose the most effective, well researched strains that have clear functions in the body and can benefit our general health.

One strain in particular that’s worth knowing about is Lactobacillus plantarum. It is acid resistant found naturally within the human microbiome and scientifically researched to demonstrate numerous yet significant benefits on our health. Let’s explore!

Cholesterol Balance

Cholesterol control is a particular process that this strain is involved with, due to its quite unique, you could even say clever, characteristics. So let’s explore further. 

Cholesterol naturally exists in our blood and is vital for our health, nourishing our cell membranes and supporting the production of steroid hormones, CoQ10 and vitamin D. However, we need to keep a healthy balance of cholesterol and make sure it doesn’t get damaged (oxidised) in the bloodstream. It is when cholesterol becomes oxidised that it can be harmful, contributing to atherosclerosis (the build-up of plaque within the arteries). Often high cholesterol levels can accompany other symptoms that underlie cardiovascular disease and together they may increase the risk of stroke or heart attack. Risk factors for disrupted cholesterol levels include having a diet too high in sugar, refined carbohydrates and trans-fats, toxic exposure such as smoking, low levels of physical activity and obesity.

How does L.plantarum come into play? 

Well, cholesterol levels are regulated via the liver and gut. The liver secretes excess cholesterol into bile or converts it to bile salts. Then about 90% is reabsorbed in the gut and recirculated to the liver. Normally only about 5% is eliminated via the gut in our stools.

There are key ways in which cholesterol can be regulated. When taking medication for high cholesterol, the mechanism is to block cholesterol production to then reduce levels recirculated into the blood stream. 

The more holistic and naturopathic way is not to block production of cholesterol, as cholesterol is vital at balanced levels for energy and cognitive function, for example. Instead, it is to support the cholesterol elimination process by increasing the amount eliminated through the stools, thereby reducing the recirculation. 

L. plantarum has been found to support this process, encouraging more cholesterol to be eliminated through the bowel, lowering the levels of cholesterol going into the blood stream and potentially reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. One study even found that 1.2 billion of this strain significantly reduced total cholesterol levels over a 12 week period. Interestingly, it can also positively impact the uptake of cholesterols from the bloodstream into the cells as well as reducing cholesterol damage. This way, you are truly supporting the body to achieve balance and improve cardiovascular function, without excessively reducing cholesterol levels, which could have a negative impact on many areas of health, including brain function or hormone levels.

It’s not all about cholesterol…

L. Plantarum has been researched to be quite beneficial for the integrity of the gut wall, interacting with our genes and supporting the immune system. This could help to prevent intestinal permeability, which is involved in allergies and autoimmune conditions, to name a few. Interestingly, this strain has also been investigated for its potential in modulating the nervous system, in particular the neurotransmitters involved in regulating our stress response, affecting our mood, sleeping patterns and cognitive function. Furthermone, L plantarumis also one of the predominant strains in vaginal bacteria, so may support female health.

Where can we get this wonder strain from? 

Live bacteria are widely available through supplementation, this strain included. If you want to address a particular health problem, making sure you are getting a good quality strain, in a therapeutic dose, is important to be effective. 

You can also eat certain foods that naturally contains L. Plantarum. It can be found in most fermented milk products such as kefir, cheese and milk as well as fermented green olives, sauerkraut, kimchi and other fermented vegetables and meats.

Most good probiotic bacteria have multiple functions in the body, but we can use some very specific strains to target particular areas of health. So if you want to support heart health, Lactobacillus Plantarum is a great option for you!