Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum: Psychobiotics to the Rescue!
Taken together or separately, Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum have tremendous effects on gut function and mood.
What is Lactobacillus helveticus?
Traditionally used for cheese fermentation, Lactobacillus helveticus has been noted to have anti-microbial properties and an ability to modulate immune responses. Importantly, it is a hearty microbe that can survive gastrointestinal (GI) pH and temperatures and can cling to epithelial cells allowing it to survive in the intestinal tract.
In clinical trials, Lactobacillus helveticus prevented or reduced the detrimental effects of pathogenic and spore-forming bacteria, such as Clostridia. Studies comparing breastfed to bottle-fed babies found that infants drinking cow’s milk had less bifidobacteria and more pathogenic bacteria, such as Clostridia and Enterococci, than infants drinking breastmilk. This difference is likely because of bifidobacteria’s ability to ferment galacto-oligosaccharides found in mother’s milk. Having a robust bifidobacteria population in the gut is important because these microbes are associated with several positive health effects, including stress reduction and a healthier body mass index (BMI).
What is Bifidobacterium longum?
Specifically, Bifidobacterium longum can secrete essential vitamins, including folate, nicotinic acid, and thiamine. People with IBS, a stress-related disorder affecting the gut-brain axis, may find particular relief from probiotics. Only one strain has even been seen to mediate IBS-related HPA axis imbalances and improve cognitive function.
The Combined Effects of Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum
In a study using a combined Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum probiotic formula, subjects were seen to fight off infections better, avoid disease-associated diarrhea, and have a more robust immune system. The health benefits from these two microbes do not end with physiological effects. When taken together, L. helveticus and B. longum influenced mental well-being in test subjects. Improvements were noted in mood, with a marked decrease in depression and anger and an increase in overall positivity, and a decrease in cortisol over time. Known as the “stress hormone,” excess cortisol is associated with feelings of stress and anxiety. A reduction in cortisol levels not only positively influences mood, but may also alleviate inflammatory responses caused by allergens, infection, or toxicity. The roles L. helveticus and B. longum serve in mood modulation make them part of the class of microbes called “psychobiotics,” or probiotics that influence psychological function. Psychobiotics are becoming increasingly popular for treating psychiatric disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
Choosing the Right Probiotic Formula for You
When selecting a probiotic formula, a product containing both Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum may be beneficial for those suffering from both moderate GI distress and mood disorders. Research suggests that these bacteria, especially B. longum, perform best when accompanied by prebiotics, short-chained polysaccharides fermented by bacteria. Prebiotics of interest include fructo-oligosaccharide (FOS) and galacto-oligosaccharide (GOS).
 Taverniti, V., & Guglielmetti, S. (2012). Health-promoting properties of Lactobacillus helveticus. Frontiers in microbiology, 3.
 Op. cit. Taverniti & Guglielmetti (2012); Frece, J., Kos, B., Svetec, I. K., Zgaga, Z., Beganovic, J., Lebos, A., & Suskovic, J. (2009). Synbiotic effect of lactobacillus helveticus M92 and prebiotics on the intestinal microflora and immune system of mice. The Journal of Dairy Research, 76(1), 98-104.
 Op. cit. Taverniti & Guglielmetti (2012); Turková, K., Mavric, A., Narat, M., Rittich, B., Spanová, A., Rogelj, I., & Matijasic, B. B. (2013). Evaluation of lactobacillus strains for selected probiotic properties.Folia Microbiologica, 58(4), 261-7.
 Macfarlane, G. T., Steed, H., & Macfarlane, S. (2008). Bacterial metabolism and health‐related effects of galacto‐oligosaccharides and other prebiotics. Journal of applied microbiology, 104(2), 305-344.
 Op. cit. Macfarlane et al. (2008); Parnell, J. A., & Reimer, R. A. (2012). Prebiotic fibres dose-dependently increase satiety hormones and alter Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes in lean and obese JCR: LA-cp rats. British Journal of Nutrition, 107(4), 601-613.
 Allen, A. P., Hutch, W., Borre, Y. E., Kennedy, P. J., Temko, A., Boylan, G., … & Clarke, G. (2016). Bifidobacterium longum 1714 as a translational psychobiotic: modulation of stress, electrophysiology and neurocognition in healthy volunteers. Translational psychiatry, 6(11), e939; Op. cit. Parnell & Reimer (2012); Cryan, J. F., & Dinan, T. G. (2012). Mind-altering microorganisms: the impact of the gut microbiota on brain and behaviour. Nature reviews neuroscience, 13(10), 701-712.
 Op. cit. Macfarlane et al. (2008).
 Op. cit. Allen et al. (2016); Op. cit. Taverniti & Guglielmetti (2012).
 Op. cit. Allen et al. (2016).
 Messaoudi, M., Lalonde, R., Violle, N., Javelot, H., Desor, D., Nejdi, A., … & Cazaubiel, J. M. (2011). Assessment of psychotropic-like properties of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) in rats and human subjects. British Journal of Nutrition, 105(5), 755-764; Op. cit. Cryan & Dinan (2012).
 Op. cit. Messaoudi et al. (2011); Op. cit. Dinan & Cryan (2013).
 Op. cit. Cryan & Dinan (2012).
 Dinan, T. G., & Cryan, J. F. (2013). Melancholic microbes: a link between gut microbiota and depression? Neurogastroenterology & Motility, 25(9), 713-719.
 Op. cit. Macfarlane et al. (2008); Op. cit. Parnell & Reimer (2012).
Disclaimer: The information provided is only intended to be general educational information to the public. It does not constitute medical advice. If you have specific questions about any medical matter or if you are suffering from any medical condition, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.