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Indian researcher reveals how yogurt drinks affect metabolism

January 16, 2008 17:31 IST

Indian scientist Dr Sunil Kochhar along with a team from Imperial College London has found that probiotics, such as yoghurt drinks, containing live bacteria, can have a significant effect on the metabolism.

Probiotics are dietary supplements containing potentially beneficial bacteria or yeasts, which play an important part in a person's metabolism.

This study is the first of its kind to look into how probiotics change the biochemistry of bugs known as gut microbes, which live in the gut and which play an important part in a person's metabolic makeup

It was conducted using a mice model where the mice, transplanted with human gut microbes were given two different types of probiotic drinks. Probiotics contain so-called 'friendly' bacteria can help the digestive system.

The findings revealed that the treatment had a whole range of biochemical effects that changed the structure of the bugs in the gut. They also found that probiotics could influence the way in which bile acids, made by the liver and their primary function is to emulsify fats in the upper gut, were also metabolised, which meant that they could change how much fat the body is able to absorb.

"Understanding changes in the molecular events triggered by the so-called beneficial bacteria in the host metabolism is an important prerequisite in our efforts to develop customised nutritional solutions to maintain and/or enhance our consumer's health and wellness at an individual level, said Dr Kochhar

"The results of this study are highly promising to address personalised nutrition," he added.

Professor Jeremy Nicholson, corresponding author on the study from the Department of Biomolecular Medicine at Imperial College said that study shows that probiotics can have an effect and they interact with the local ecology and talk to other bacteria.

"Some argue that probiotics can't change your gut microflora -- whilst there are at least a billion bacteria in a pot of yoghurt, there are a hundred trillion in the gut, so you're just whistling in the wind," said Nicholson

"Our study shows that probiotics can have an effect and they interact with the local ecology and talk to other bacteria.

"We're still trying to understand what the changes they bring about might mean, in terms of overall health, but we have established that introducing 'friendly' bacteria can change the dynamics of the whole population of microbes in the gut," he said.

The researchers expect that these new insights about how probiotics and gut microbes interact will open up the possibility of developing new probiotic therapies.

The study appears in the journal Molecular Systems Biology.

ANI