subject: bacteria

Training Your Body to Digest Lactose

Training Your Body to Digest Lactose

The common understanding of the inability to properly digest lactose is that it’s all about genetics: either a particular gene in cells lining your upper intestine—which enables everyone to digest lactose as an infant—becomes inactive as you grow up, or it doesn’t. But the truth is less cut and dry. In fact, there is some recent and gathering evidence to suggest that those who suffer the symptoms of lactose intolerance could be better off by frequently consuming small quantities of the sugar that bothers them. Read More...

Probiotics May Work Better with Milk

Probiotics May Work Better with Milk

We respond differently to different environments; we might put on a thick coat when it’s cold, or open an umbrella when it’s raining. It turns out that probiotic bacteria also react differently depending on their environment, and this could have important implications for how we consume probiotics. Two new studies led by Maria Marco from the University of California, Davis, found that probiotic bacteria showed improved survival and efficacy when delivered through milk rather than in another medium. Read More...

Kefir Consumption—a Growing Culture

Kefir Consumption—a Growing Culture

Kefir, an ancient cultured dairy drink touted as a health-promoting probiotic, is coming back into fashion in Europe and gaining popularity in the US. With its fizzy freshness and mildly acidic flavor, kefir (pronounced “keh-FEAR”) likely owes its name to a similar Turkish word meaning "good feeling." Fermented by yeast and bacteria in a unique way, kefir has been shown to promote gut health and boost the immune system, among other beneficial effects. Kefir has even been credited with beginning "a new dawn of food," while commercial producers and home brewers are experimenting with modern recipes and flavored variants. Read More...

A Time Before Nipples

A Time Before Nipples

What was milk like long ago in evolutionary history? In the absence of a time machine, the next best way to answer this question is to take what is known about the diversity of living mammals and work backwards using deductive logic, just like Sherlock Holmes. Recently, progress in this area has received a major boost from two papers about the different sugars found in monotreme milk—monotremes being the wackiest and most ancestral-like of the mammal groups, with membership so exclusive it is limited to only two kinds, the platypus and the echidna. Read More...

Dairy for the Lactose Intolerant

Dairy for the Lactose Intolerant

Ever watched a lactose intolerant friend shovel yogurt into their mouth, and wondered, in anticipated horror, at what the outcome may be? Strange as it may seem, fully lactose intolerant people tend have little problem digesting yogurt, even though its lactose content is approximately equal to milk's. There is no need to check for the nearest toilet. The explanation for this apparent puzzle lies with the bacteria in yogurt. Read More...

Microbial Transfer from Mother to Offspring

Microbial Transfer from Mother to Offspring

Until recently, it was thought that the maternal reproductive system is sterile, and that a baby’s first contact with bacteria was during birth while working its way through the birth canal. This long-standing dogma has been challenged by studies demonstrating that almost all tissues in the body are full of germs. Read More...

Breast Milk Antibody Promotes a Healthy Gut into Adulthood

Breast Milk Antibody Promotes a Healthy Gut into Adulthood

Many pediatrics studies have shown that inflammatory bowel disease is more common in infants who are not breast fed than in those who are. But explaining why this is the case has been hard. Recently, Charlotte Kaetzel and her colleagues at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, went further in demonstrating a mechanistic link than any group has done before. They report1 that an antibody (SIgA) transmitted in breast milk from mom to babe alters the expression of genes in infants’ gut epithelial cells. Not only are these genes associated with the development of irritable bowel syndrome, but the changes appear to last into adulthood. Read More...

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