Make your own probiotic yogurt and save money

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Probiotics are essential in your Wheat Belly lifestyle, especially in the initial weeks and months of engaging in the program (longer if you have gastrointestinal conditions). They are essential because prior wheat/grain/sugar consumption disrupts composition of bowel flora and restoration to something closer to normal is part of your recovery. While we still have plenty to learn—what species, what combinations of species, inclusion of fungi like Saccharomyces boulardii, which species help control/reverse small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and methanogenic species, etc.—there are unquestioned benefits to taking probiotics.

But they’re expensive. It’s not uncommon to spend $40 to $70 dollars per month for quality products. Is there a way to reduce costs?

One way is to take a probiotic for a finite period of, say, 2 months, while continuing enthusiastic consumption of fermented foods (that contain many of the same species as probiotics) and prebiotic fibers. Another way would be to space out dosing, e.g., take them every other day or every several days. While probiotic species typically do not colonize the colon permanently, they do reproduce and populate for up to several weeks.

Yet another way is to cultivate the various species in probiotics in yogurt. The conversion of thin liquid of, say, organic half-and-half or whole milk or coconut milk to thick, rich yogurt means that tens of billions of organisms at the start are multiplied to hundreds of billions to trillions. It also means that you have created a mix of bacterial metabolites that are beneficial for humans, such as butyrate and acetoacetate. It’s also delicious.

I have been discussing various facets of yogurt making lately, including cultivation of Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC PTA 6475 that raises oxytocin; use of prebiotic fibers in yogurt making to amplify bacterial counts in the end-product (don’t use honey, as it contains its own collection of microorganisms); and why we start with higher-fat products such as half-and-half, rather than skim or low-fat milk, yieiding richer and tastier yogurt than the insipid watery stuff you buy from grocery stores. Making it yourself also means not having to read labels to dodge sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and thickeners/emulsifiers added for texture and mixability but adversely impact bowel flora and bowel health (via disruption of the mucous lining). We also ferment for extend periods of 30-36 hours to minimize lactose content (since it is fermented to lactic acid) and reduce pH that maximally denatures (breakds down) the casein protein.

But, provided your probiotic capsules do not contain a yeast such as any Saccharomyces species (which will ferment to alcohol, not lactic acid), you can put the Lactobacillus, Bifidobacteria, and other species to work to make yogurt. The yogurt you make will therefore contain the species contained in the capsule (though relative counts may shift, given the various species ability to proliferate and compete with each other for nutrients). I’ve had success making yogurt with the Renew Life brand, Garden of Life RAW, as well as single species/strains of L. reuteri and L. rhamnosus.

Because your yogurt contains hundreds of billions to trillions or microorganisms, consuming, say, 1/2 cup per day can take the place of a probiotic capsule. The yogurt will yield greater bacterial counts than the original capsule, even if divided into five or so servings. A quart batch of yogurt will therefore save you the cost of 5 days of probiotics while also serving as breakfast or snack and tasting delicious. And you can make successive batches of yogurt from prior batches, saving you even more money. (At some point, competition among the various species will likely change their relative numbers, and re-inoculation with the contents of a probiotic capsule can be used to restore to the original composition.)

I also find that, because the end-product contains little or no remaining prebiotic fiber (since the bacteria feasted on it), yogurt is a great vehicle for prebiotic fibers for YOU: add some inulin/FOS, acacia fiber, chopped up green banana, Wheat-Free Market’s Vanilla or Chocolate Prebiotic Fiber Mix, etc.

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