Wageningen, Denmark—In a recent study conducted by Top Institute Food and Nutrition in Wageningen, researchers discovered that probiotic bacteria found in yogurt drinks change once in the intestines, thereby supporting digestive health.

It is well known that probiotic bacteria aid in digestion, kill harmful microorganisms and support overall health in a number of ways. But, it has been debated whether the majority of probiotic bacteria from foods survive stomach acids and make it to the large intestine, where they do the most good.

In the present study, probiotic bacteria from yogurt drinks were found in the intestines of colon cancer patients undergoing a colectomy. The patients drank probiotic beverages with lactobacillus before the surgery. Overall, it was found that the properties of probiotic bacteria changed on a microbiological level once in the human intestines, particularly with respect to the bacteria’s cell membranes. This is important because the lactobacillus must stick to the intestinal epithelia, where it communicates with immune cells.

While this mechanism has been studied in mice, this study is the first of its kind in humans. The results of the research were presented in The ISME Journal, the official journal of the International Society for Microbial Ecology.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, August 2010 (published ahead of print on June 26, 2010)