By CLAIRE BATES (http://www.dailymail.co.uk)
After wolfing down a pizza you may want to finish with a probiotic yoghurt, after researchers found they help the body to break down carbohydrates.
Scientists from Washington University School of Medicine wanted to look at what impact, if any, live bacteria in popular yoghurts have on digestion.
They performed studies on mice as well as identical female twins using a yoghurt that had five strains of live bacteria.
The team found eating the yoghurt twice a day for seven weeks did not alter the mix of microbes in the intestines of the women or the mice.
However, when they took a closer look at the mice they found there were significant changes in some of the bacterial enzymes involved in metabolising carbohydrates.
Many of the key changes noted in the highly controlled laboratory environment were also found in the seven pairs of twins.
Study author Dr Jeffrey Gordon, said: ‘Carbohydrates are an important part of our diet, and the way they are broken down by gut microbes is an important part of digestive health.
‘A number of carbohydrates are quite complex and can only be digested by enzymes made by gut microbes. We found that when the mice were given the bacterial strains found in the yogurt, at doses comparable to those consumed by humans, they could more efficiently break down certain classes of carbohydrates. Our guts contain millions of bacteria known collectively as the microbiota.’
This complex system works to break down certain nutrients that our bodies could not otherwise digest, prevents the growth of harmful bacteria, produces nutrients such as vitamin K and biotin as well as hormones to tell our bodies when to store fat.
The research, which was published in Science Translational Medicine, could help scientists analyse the many health claims made by makers of probiotic yoghurts.
‘This is a proof of principle. We have developed an approach to test the health effects of probiotics that focuses on how those microbes influence the dynamic operations of our gut microbial communities,’ Dr Gordon said.
He added that their long-term goal was to develop ways to improve the nutritional value of the foods we eat.
Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
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