I’ve been lately discussing how to take a single species of bacteria and amplify bacterial counts by making yogurt in the presence of prebiotic fiber. Here, for instance, I described my early experience cultivating a strain of Lactobacillus reuteri. For anyone new to this conversation, the method of making prebiotic-infused yogurt is discussed here; and why we choose higher fat starting liquids, such as half-and-half with around 18% fat, is discussed here. For anyone wishing to avoid dairy, you can also accomplish the same with coconut milk (canned, full-fat), though it requires longer to ferment (typically 48-72 hours, rather than the 36-48 hours for dairy. You may also need to add a modest quantity of sugar, e.g., 2 teaspoons, along with the inulin—don’t worry: If fermentation proceeds as planned, sugar and prebiotic inulin should be gone or present at only negligible levels in the end-product because the microorganisms have consumed them. The end-product should therefore not be sweet. And the yogurt you obtain by these methods is incredibly thick, rich, and delicious, not the insipid, water stuff you get at the grocery store.
What we are doing is 1) taking a single microbial species or number of species of known composition, then 2) amplifying the bacterial counts (CFUs). Starting with, for example, 5 billion CFUs from a commercial probiotic preparation of your desired species, making yogurt with prebiotic fibers increases the bacterial counts enormously. 5 billion can readily become trillions. This is a handy way to play around to gauge the effect of augmenting bowel flora with a single species/strain or collection of species/strains, just as I am doing with various strains of Lactobacillus reuteri in the hopes of getting a sense whether the spectacular effects observed in a mouse model in the MIT studies will translate into similar human effects. You might also explore:
- Whether amplification of the species Lactobacillus casei (strain PRA205) reduces blood pressure based on these observations.
- Whether amplification of Lactobacillus plantarum (strains CECT 7527, 7528 and 7529) reduces cholesterol (accepting that cholesterol is a lousy measure of cardiovascular risk) based on observations such as this.
- Whether amplification of Bifidobacterium infantis (strain 35624) may help reduce intestinal inflammation in various conditions such as ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome.
That’s just a sample of the kinds of cultivated probiotics you can explore on your own. And, because you are amplifying counts in yogurt, you can skip your probiotics at times and thereby reduce costs. You can see that we are getting way beyond “eat yogurt” with uncertain microbial count and composition, or taking just any old probiotic.
In general, bowel health and overall health are reflected by wide species diversity, i.e., having a large number of varied species. So these efforts are meant to be short-term explorations to gauge whether increasing the count of a specific species/strain yields a specific desired benefit. Please don’t interpret this to mean that cultivating single species long-term is a key to restoring healthy bowel flora. Should you attempt any of these microbial explorations, however, please share your experiences here and on the Wheat Belly or Undoctored Facebook pages.