October 31/St. Louis/Science Translational Medicine -- Eating probiotic yogurt might help the body to break down carbohydrates, a new study shows.

Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine found that the live bacteria in the yogurt helped gut microbes to break down certain classes of carbohydrates more efficiently.

”It’s interesting that just by virtue of introducing species, you can get quite dramatic changes in the expression of genes in the gut microbes,” said Susan Lynch, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the research.

The human gut is home to hundreds of different species of bacteria, known as the microbiome. These bacterial species are beneficial microorganisms which help in a variety of ways, such as breaking down food and toxins that bodies could not otherwise digest, stimulates the immune system by producing natural antibiotics and antifungals or regulates the fat storage of the body.

Studies have shown that probiotics can improve intestinal function, maintain the integrity of the lining of the intestines and help those with irritable bowel syndrome.

The study was performed on mice and seven pairs of identical twins to using yogurt with five strains of live bacteria. The twins were given two servings of yogurt a day for seven weeks. The researchers found that the yogurt did not “colonize” the species of the bacterial communities in the intestines of the women. Two weeks after the twins have stopped eating yogurt, researchers could not detect any live yogurt bacteria in the participants’ systems.

“The idea of using twins is a nice one. To some extent, it can standardize genetic and environmental factors that could have an effect on the results,” Lynch said. [Studies like this] are fundamental to understanding the possible benefits of microbial supplementation approaches.”

The study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

 From the October 31, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News.