Can Yogurt Fight Gastrointestinal Ulcers?
by Cara Zolinsky
Yogurt, a fermented milk product, has long been known to be a healthy source of
calcium, protein and various other nutrients. Currently, many brands of yogurt
contain probiotics (i.e., certain types of bacteria believed by many alternative and
allopathic practitioners to have beneficial impacts on many digestive issues).
This new kind of yogurt may represent a unique approach to fighting stomach ulcers.
It is perhaps the latest product in the ever growing, "functional food," market, which
now generates some $60 million in annual sales. Indeed, stomach ulcers affect some
25 million people annually in the United States alone.
The study's coordinator, Hajime Hatta, a chemist at Kyoto Women's University, in
Japan, had this to say: "With this new yogurt, people can enjoy the taste of yogurt,
while preventing or eliminating the bacteria that cause stomach ulcers."
Researchers are hopeful that the new yogurt, which is already available in Japan
(under the name "Dr. Piro"), Korea (under the name "Gut",) and Taiwan will soon be
on the shelves in the United States.
Most stomach ulcers are now known to be caused by a bacteria, known as
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), or by overuse of aspirin or other nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs. In the past H. pylori ulcers have been effectively treated and
eliminated with antibiotics and acid suppressants; however, for millions of
poverty-stricken people who suffer from H. pylori ulcers, such treatments may
simply be unavailable.
Research has linked childhood H. pylori-induced ulcers to more serious health
problems like malnutrition and impaired growth. Scientists have long been at a loss to
find a more economical and accessible way of treating these bacteria.
In the study, Hatta and colleagues point out that H. pylori appears to depend upon a
protein known as urease to attach itself to and infect the lining of the stomach. The
researchers used classic vaccine-creation techniques in their efforts to thwart the
effects of the urease protein, injecting chickens with urease, and allowing the
chickens to produce antibodies to the protein. The researchers harvested the
antibody, IgY-urease, from the eggs of the chickens, postulating that the
consumption of yogurt containing IgY-urease might help to prevent the bacteria from
adhering to the lining of the stomach.
The study consisted of a group of 42 people, all of whom suffered from H. pylori
ulcers, who were segregated into 2 groups, one group was fed 2 cups daily of
untreated yogurt and the other group was fed yogurt containing the antibody. At the
end of the 4-week study, urease levels in the latter group had decreased significantly.
Yogurt and Ulcers
Ultimately, although the yogurt appears to be somewhat less effective than
antibiotics in treating H. pylori ulcers, it is certainly more accessible and can be eaten
every day. The antibody has no effect upon the taste of the yogurt.
Researchers cautioned, however, that since yogurt is a dairy product that also
contains egg yolk, those with an allergy to dairy or eggs should not consume this
new "anti-ulcer" yogurt. Furthermore, unlike antibiotics, which once taken, can
permanently eliminate the problem, the yogurt must be eaten on a consistent basis.
So, it would appear that unless an individual wishes to avoid use of an antibiotic, it
might well be more beneficial to partake of the permanent solution than to commit
to use of a product for the duration of one's lifespan.
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Recently, in a report presented at the
237th National Meeting of the
American Chemical Society, it was
revealed that there is a new yogurt
which appears to have the ability to
fight the bacteria responsible for
gastritis and stomach ulcers.
In the report, which was based upon
the result of human clinical studies,
Japanese researchers claimed that
ingesting the yogurt is comparable to
the effects of innoculation by a
vaccine for both conditions.
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