Probiotics, foods containing live 'friendly' bacteria that some evidence suggests helps in digestion, have a tangible effect on the metabolism, according to the results of a new study in the journal Molecular Systems Biology.
The research is the first to look in detail at 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. Different people have different types of gut microbes inside them and abnormalities in some types have recently been linked to diseases such as diabetes and obesity.
For the study, researchers from Imperial College London and Nestlé Research Center, Lausanne, Switzerland, gave two different types of probiotic drink to mice that had been transplanted with human gut microbes.
The researchers compared the levels of different metabolites in the liver, blood, urine, and feces of mice who had received treatment with probiotics and those that had not.
They found that treatment with probiotics had a whole range of biochemical effects and that these effects differed markedly between the two probiotic strains, Lactobacillus paracasei and Lactobacillus rhamnosus. Adding ‘friendly’ bacteria changed the makeup of the bugs in the gut, not only because this increased the number of such bacteria, but also because the ‘friendly’ bacteria worked with other bacteria in the gut, amplifying their effects.
One of the many biochemical changes observed by the researchers was a change in how mice treated with probiotics metabolized bile acids. These acids are made by the liver and their primary function is to emulsify fats in the upper gut. If probiotics can influence the way in which bile acids are metabolized, this means they could change how much fat the body is able to absorb.
Professor Jeremy Nicholson, corresponding author on the study from the Department of Biomolecular Medicine at Imperial College, explained “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.
“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 hope their new insights about how probiotics and gut microbes interact will ultimately enable the development of new probiotic therapies, which can be tailored for people with different conditions and different metabolic makeups.
Dr. Sunil Kochhar, another author on the study from the Nestlé Research Center, added: “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 customized nutritional solutions to maintain and/or enhance our consumer’s health and wellness at an individual level. The results of this study are highly promising to address personalized nutrition.”
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Reduce Prostate Cancer Risk By Sleeping With Lots Of Women - But Not Men
- Greenpeace Says Its GMOs Are Better Than Science's GMOs, Still Hates Golden Rice
- Supersonic Laser-Propelled Aircraft Get A Step Closer
- Homo Floresiensis: Hobbit Species Continues To Provoke Questions About Human Evolution
- Okay With Disgusting Images? You Vote This Way 95 Percent Of The Time
- Everyone Hates Daylight Savings Time - But It Might Improve Public Health
- This Mid-Term Election Can Have Evolutionary Consequences
- "There are no Greenpeace GMOs. Go away with your bullcrap and take your GMOs with you. ..."
- "Talk about manned missions to Mars is foolishness until we've established a robot colony that has..."
- "Mars is basically a dead rock. Any life that can take hold there, good for it. Now the oceans of..."
- "Most people like average, because average is most predictable - just as frequent words and symmetrical..."
- "Save Lives With Golden Rice..."
- Designer babies: You can screen for cystic fibrosis but intelligence is a way off
- Science as profane: What superstition of 1752 and 2014 share in common
- What’s so “natural” about “natural crop breeding”?
- Worried you have cancer? Take a Google pill!
- Mars bars for brain health? Not so fast
- Scientists rebuff Center for Food Safety report alleging chemicals in infant soy milk
- Lou Gehrig's disease study: Renewing brain's aging support cells may help neurons survive
- Smithsonian scientist discovers populations of rare songbird in surprising new habitat
- National initiative shows multisystem approaches to reduce diabetes disparities
- Model by NIH grantees explains why HIV prevention dosing differs by sex
- Seeing dinosaur feathers in a new light