Most individuals are familiar with harmful bacteria - the type that cause infection, respiratory illness, digestive problems, and more. However, with the bad comes the good and there are many beneficial bacteria naturally present in the human body that are crucial in maintaining life and good health. The majority of these bacteria dwell in the mucus membranes of the digestive, respiratory, and genital tissue. These good bacteria play several key roles including aiding food and nutrient metabolism and the digestive process, eliminating waste, protecting and stabilizing the intestinal wall, and strengthening the immune system.

One of these helpful bacteria is lactobacillus plantarum. This hardy bacterium can survive the most extreme temperatures, from just above freezing to nearly 140繙F, as well as a wide spectrum of atmospheric pressure. According to several experts, L plantarum has incredible adhesive properties that render it a highly effective means of combating harmful bacteria like E Coli while it simultaneously repairs the lining of the intestines.

Research has suggested that the unique properties of L plantarum make it a likely candidate for the treatment of such conditions as irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, and Crohn's disease. Studies have also shown that L plantarum is resistant to repeated rounds of antibiotic therapy. This is significant for patients with chronic intestinal conditions who must take antibiotics due to unrelated illnesses. According to Donna Gates, author of 'The Body Ecology Diet', the L plantarum naturally present in the intestines can survive the antimicrobial effects of the prescription antibiotics, which can help maintain digestive health by preventing yeast overgrowth.

Troubling, however, is the evidence that only 25 percent of Americans consuming a traditional Western diet have sufficient L plantarum colonized in their intestines. This particular strain of bacteria is predominant in vegetarians and cultural populations that consume large amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables. While the benefits of L plantarum are substantial for the majority of individuals, there are certain populations who have an increased requirement for the bacteria. Pregnant women require higher doses of probiotics such as L plantarum to immunize their infants as the babies pass through the birth canal during delivery. These cultures work almost immediately to strengthen the newborn's immune and digestive system functions. Some experts even suggest that newborns should receive L plantarum and other probiotics, either naturally or through supplements, to help prevent colic, improve immunity, aid nutrient absorption in the intestines, and optimize digestive health.

Additionally, young children with developmental, behavioral, or other neurological disorders such as autism and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder have shown improvement when administered increased levels of L plantarum. These children often exhibit symptoms of digestive ill-health, poor detoxification, depressed immune response, and increasing probiotic cultures may ease these issues.

The best sources of L plantarum come from fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as naturally fermented foods such as pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut, and brined olives. However, caution should be taken when purchasing processed alternatives to these cultural staples, as mass-produced foods generally use low quality vinegar solutions to pickle or brine produce; this can destroy L plantarum. In traditional preparation, L plantarum thrives because foods are allowed to ferment naturally or are brined in salt and natural vinegars, which protects them for later ingestion. Many of these small-batch products can be found in specialty ethnic markets or created at home with simple recipes.

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