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Lactobacillus in Yogurt

Should you eat lactobacillus bacteria found in yogurt to make you more healthy?

Lactobacillus bacteria have been shown to does control infantile, traveler's (4) and antibiotic-induced diarrhea (2,3), and appears to be safe. Lactobacillus remains in the intestines for one to three days after most people stop taking it, and up to seven days in 30 percent of people (1).

There is some evidence that lactobacillus may help to improve immunity (5) by increasing the number of antibody-secreting cells in the intestinal lining, and interferon production. Some studies show that it may help control bloody ulcers in the intestines called Crohn's disease (6). Studies from Sweden showed that lactobacillus may help the body use undigested starches that help to prevent cancer in animals (7). Lactobacilli help treat some types of diarrheas, but all other claims need more proof.

Many brands of yogurt contain no lactobacilli. If the yogurt has been heat-treated after culturing, it contains no live bacteria. Check the label; it should clearly state whether it contains active cultures.

More on Lactobacilli and other good bacteria

1) SL Gorbach. Probiotics and gastrointestinal health. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2000, Vol 95, Iss 1, Suppl. S, pp S2-S4.

2) M Pochapin. The effect of probiotics on Clostridium difficile diarrhea. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2000, Vol 95, Iss 1, Suppl. S, pp S11-S13.

3) J Levy. The effects of antibiotic use on gastrointestinal function. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2000, Vol 95, Iss 1, Suppl. S, pp S8-S10.

4) J Saavedra. Probiotics and infectious diarrhea. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2000, Vol 95, Iss 1, Suppl. S, pp S16-S18.

5) S CunninghamRundles, S Ahrne, S Bengmark, R JohannLiang, F Marshall, L Metakis, C Califano, AM Dunn, C Grassey, G Hinds, J Cervia. Probiotics and immune response. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2000, Vol 95, Iss 1, Suppl. S, pp S22-S25.

6) M Schultz, RB Sartor. Probiotics and inflammatory bowel diseases. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2000, Vol 95, Iss 1, Suppl. S, pp S19-S21.

7) S Bengmark. Colonic food: Pre- and probiotics. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2000, Vol 95, Iss 1, Suppl. S, pp S5-S7.

Checked 7/3/13

June 2nd, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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