Bifidobacterium longum have genes that can synthesize about 19 different amino acids from NH4 and other key biosynthetic precursors (phosphoenolpyruvate,oxaloacetate, oxoglutarate, and fumarate) supplied by its limited Krebs cycle that lacks fumarase, oxoglutarate dehydrogenase, and malate dehydrogenase (2). It also consists of homologs that are necessary for the biosynthesis of pyrimidine and purine nucleotides from glutamine. Also, “homologs of most enzymes needed for synthesis of folic acid, thiamin, and nicotinate are present, whereas all those for riboflavin, biotin, cobalamin, pantothenate, and pyridoxine are missing,”
Bifidobacterium longum provides many health benefits as a naturally-occurring bacterium and as a probiotic. The lactic acid produced by the bacteria increases the acidity of the digestive tract, which helps inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. Bifidobacterium longum also has been shown to treat constipation, reduce inflammation associated with inflammatory bowel conditions, prevent high cholesterol levels and reduce the development of certain allergies, according to probiotic.org. According to a study in the April 1997 issue of “Carcinogenesis,” Bifidobacterium longum showed anticarcinogenic and antimutagenic properties and may help inhibit the development of colon cancer. Probiotic supplements are also beneficial in repopulating Bifidobacterium longum colonies in the digestive tract that have been destroyed by antibiotic use.
Bifidobacterium longum has the genes to create about nineteen different amino acids. Applications can be tested in humans. Research involving weight loss and obesity with respect to constipation problems is currently being conducted. It was shown those who took doses of B. longum had better results of weight loss and constipation in comparison to those who took laxatives.
Bifidobacterium longum plays an important role early in human life. Bifidobacterium longum is transferred from the mother to the child via breast feeding. This early transfer helps to boost the infant’s immune system. Diarrhea and allergies are less predominant in breast fed babies. In adults, Bifidobacterium longum keeps the immune system healthy, aids in balancing intestinal microbes, and can prevent cancer such as colon cancer. This bacterium can also help prevent Vaginitis, an inflammation of the vagina. The lactic acid produced by Bifidobacterium longum helps to lower the chances of Vaginitis occurring.
Probiotics like Bifidobacterium longum are generally regarded as safe for the majority of individuals, but more research is needed to determine the safety profile for children, the elderly and individuals with a weakened immune system, according to the National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. Side effects of probiotic use are rare with the most common being gastrointestinal upset, but more serious side effects could occur such as immune system modulation, changes in the metabolic activity of cells and the transfer of genetic material into host cells.
Dietary sources of Bifidobacterium longum include fermented dairy products such as yogurt, fermented teas such as kombucha and cultured vegetables like sauerkraut. Bifidobacterium longum have a unique metabolism; they are able to use nondigestible plant fibers by way of a key enzyme called the frutcose-6-phosphate phosphoketalose pathway, or bifid pathway, that is not found in other intestinal organisms. The bifid pathway depends on the presence of inulin, a soluble fiber found in non-starchy vegetables such as green beans, Asian vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables, summer squash and cabbage family vegetables like broccoli, kale and brussels sprouts.
By eating large amounts of fiber-rich vegetables it is possible to increase colonies of Bifidobacterium longum in the large intestine, as this provides the “inedible” fiber that research has shown these beneficial organisms thrive on. In this manner, the plant fiber inulin serves as a “prebiotic,” or catalyst for proliferation of healthy bacterial colonies. Supplements of Bifidobacterium longum, especially in combination with other beneficial organisms and inulin added to a fiber-rich diet, hold the best hope for preventing colon cancer and other types of digestive malignancies.