Garden on the Inside

Priobiotics is the term for edible microbes that are supposed do good things in our insides. For nearly 100 years now, yogurt ambassadors in the West have maintained that yogurt has beneficial, even youth-sustaining properties. Science is now beginning to validate some of their claims.

Microbes like Lactobacillus fermentum, L. plantarum, L. Casei and L. brevis — found in fermented milk products in Eurasia — coat our intestinal walls, producing acid and other compounds that help keep other undesirable microbes from entering our systems. Other bugs actually do things like take apart cholesterol molecules and/or help boost the body’s response to disease.

Unfortunately, the microbes that have traditionally been employed by commercial yogurt makers (Streptococcus salivarius subsp. thermophilus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus) do none of these things, for the simple reason that they can’t survive inside our bodies. Which is why virtually every yogurt manufacturer has, over the last decade or so, begun inoculating their products with a combination of good-guy Eurasian micro-flora and L.acidophilus (which is native to the human gut).

More recently, yogurt makers have begun adding fun-to-say Bifidobacteria to the mix. These critters are commonly found in human breast milk, where they work to acidify and in other ways defend the intestinal tract of babies. God only knows what other things yogurt manufacturers are going to think to put in your yogurt next, but odds are you won’t want to ask where they come from. Just eat it son, it’s good for you.

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