Humans and bacteria
BioGaia has a new pay-off: “BioGaia – Probiotics grounded in evolution. Driven by science.” What is the story behind it and does BioGaia really have grounds for these claims?
Around four billion years ago the earth saw the emergence of its first forms of life – microorganisms. Since then, these single-cell organisms have “populated” our planet. The reason they have been able to survive for such an incredibly long time – despite dramatically varying conditions such as volcanic eruptions and ice ages – is their fantastic ability to adapt. Microorganisms, of which bacteria are just one type, can live and multiply under the most varying conditions, like in hot springs and glaciers.
As humans we have around 100,000 billion microorganisms, mainly bacteria, on the outside and inside of our bodies. In other words, we carry twice as many microorganisms as human cells. Most of the bacteria are found in the digestive tract, the gut, where they perform vital functions such as training our immune system and breaking down the food we eat.
The fact is that no mammals have ever existed in nature without their microbiota. The gut flora is now considered to be an organ in its own right and both the amount of bacteria – they weigh around two kilos – and their diversity are important for our survival.
Research on bacteria and their importance for our health has literally exploded in recent years and new theories and insights are being published at a furious rate. One of the many research teams that have become interested in the bacteria species Lactobacillus reuteri is Jens Walter and his colleagues at Alberta University in Canada.
Their research has shown that Lactobacillus reuteri is a species of bacteria that has developed a mutualistic relationship with its specific host over millions of years. By mapping how different strains of Lactobacillus reuteri have adapted, Professor Walter has been able to define host-specific strains of Lactobacillus reuteri for different mammals such as humans, pigs, rats and horses.
In other words, throughout evolution certain strains of Lactobacillus reuteri have made their home in the specific environment that is found in the human gut. In some of us they still reside there today, while most others have insufficient levels and require supplements of Lactobacillus reuteri, the probiotic that is ”Grounded in evolution”.
Many probiotic bacteria available on the market today have been isolated from plants or animals. Research has shown that bacteria that belong in the human gut “speak the right language” and thus have greater opportunity to exert their mechanisms. Lactobacillus reuteri is one of the few probiotic bacteria on the market that have the human digestive tract as its natural habitat. This is one possible explanation why Lactobacillus reuteri has shown positive effects in more than 170 clinical studies covering numerous different indication areas.
The studies, i.e. the results of the research conducted on Lactobacillus reuteri, are of central importance to BioGaia since all of the company’s marketing is based on these findings. The fact is that research is the foundation for everything BioGaia does and stands for. It is BioGaia’s greatest source of pride and decisive for our future. In short, there are also grounds for the second part of the new pay-off ”Driven by science”.
Why then has Lactobacillus reuteri been so loyal to its host for such a long time? The answer is found in our mutual dependency. Lactobacillus reuteri wouldn’t have remained in our intestinal tract if they didn’t benefit from it, but most importantly, we wouldn’t have kept them if we didn’t need them. The law of evolution.
Article from BioGaia’s Annual report 2016
Author: Eva Nelson