|Close view of Petri dish culture plate containing brain heart infusion (BHI) agar growth medium, inoculated with Bifidobacterium bifidum which, after a 42–72hr incubation period, has developed dewdrop-type bacterial colonies|
Structure and characteristics
B. bifidum is a Gram-positive, anaerobic bacterium that is neither motile nor spore-forming. The bacterium is rod-shaped and can be found living in clusters, pairs, or even independently. The majority of the population of B. bifidum is found in the colon, lower small intestine, breast milk, and often in the vagina.
B. bifidum is an essential bacteria found in the human intestine. When it is low or absent all together in the human intestine, it is an indication of being in an unhealthy state. Intestinal flora can be improved if someone takes oral B. bifidum. Also, oral B. bifidum is used for other things such as therapy for enteric and hepatic disorders, for activating the immune response, and for preventing some cancers. B. bifidum decreases as people age. As B. bifidum decreases, other gut bacteria such as Lactobacilli, Enterococci, Enterobacteria and Clostridia increase. All of these increase an older adults risk for cancer and decrease the ability for their liver to function adequately and efficiently. .
Intestinal microbial balance is important for an individual's digestive system. Some people keep this balance through diet alone where others take probiotics, which are microbial supplements. B. bifidum is an important intestinal microbe. One study shows that because hard cheese has a higher pH, higher fat content and is more solid, it is more effective in carrying probiotics such as B. bifidum to a person through ingestion.
The manipulation of the gut flora is complex and may cause bacteria-host interactions. Although probiotics, in general, are considered safe, there are concerns about their use in certain cases. Some people, such as those with compromised immune systems, short bowel syndrome, central venous catheters, heart valve disease and premature infants, may be at higher risk for adverse events. Rarely, consumption of probiotics may cause bacteremia, and sepsis, potentially fatal infections in children with lowered immune systems or who are already critically ill.
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