Yoghurt could kill bowel bugs

Update:07 May 2007

A humble tub of yoghurt could contain the cure for certain types of infection-causing germs found in the bowel, scientists believe.

A Melbourne research team has come up with an innovative answer to a modern day problem caused by the overuse of antibiotics.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria commonly colonise in the bowel, causing persistent and transmissible infections, but it seems an ingredient in some commercial yoghurts could kill them off.

Renal specialists at Austin Health discovered that so-called probiotics may benefit human gut health by helping to restore the normal gut organisms.

In particular they could fight the problematic vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) bacteria, according to the study published in the latest Medical Journal of Australia.

Tests on 11 patients who regularly ate yoghurt containing lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) bacteria showed all were free of VRE within a month.

But 10 of 12 patients who ate standard yoghurt without LGG remained VRE-positive.

It appeared the LGG bacteria worked because it could survive stomach and bile acids to remain in sufficient numbers to reach the bowel, said renal dietician Karen Manley.

The patients had showed no side effects from eating a lot of LGG bacteria, but researchers were unsure how extremely unwell or immune-deficient patients would cope with the treatment.

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