Your intestinal tract has millions of bacteria. They perform a host of important biological and immune-related functions. These friendly bacteria are essential to your health.
That's why probiotic supplements, which contain various strains of these friendly bacteria, are so popular.
But you may not be getting everything out of your probiotic. The reason? You could be taking it the wrong way.
Most people take their probiotic as capsules. The capsule keeps the bacteria concealed until it dissolves in your stomach. But is that the best way to take it?
New research suggests swallowing these capsules doesn't give you the full benefit of the probiotic. Here's why.
Your mouth is full of good and bad bacteria. One type of bad bacteria, strep mutans, cause dental cavities. Strep mutans binds to your teeth in a process called aggregation and form dental plaque.
Then the strep mutans digest the sugars that you eat into acid byproducts. These byproducts break down the enamel on your teeth and cause cavities.
A Better Way to Take Probiotics
Wouldn't it be great if there was a way to get rid of these nasty strep mutans’ bacteria and replace them with healthy bacteria?
Well, it turns out there is. You can do it by chewing your probiotic.
Researchers in the Department of Pedodontics & Preventive Dentistry in Mullana, India wanted to see if probiotics mixed into ice cream might be a good way to reduce cavities in children.
So they measured the levels of strep mutans in the saliva of school children before and after they ate an ice cream laced with the probiotic lactobacillus.
None of the children had cavities before the experiment. Then, for 10 days, half the children ate the “good” ice cream. The other half ate the bad stuff.
Following this, there was a two-week washout period, during which time none of the children ate any ice cream. And then the researchers repeated the experiment. This time, they switched the groups.
Here's What They Found
In each part of the experiment, the children eating the ice cream with the lactobacillus had significantly lower levels of strep mutans in their mouths. This in spite of the sugar in the ice cream.
Taking the probiotics directly into the mouth provides an important protection against cavities and dental infections that you miss if you take them as a capsule or tablet.
And cleaning up the plaque in your mouth is important. There's an abundance of information showing that dental plaque is more than just a problem for the teeth. It can also provide hiding places for bacteria in the mouth that can lead to cardiovascular and auto-immune disease.
Simply chewing your probiotic capsule once or twice a week might prevent a host of diseases.
And it’s obvious from the study that the best way to take your probiotic is with ice cream. Just kidding on that one, of course.
But ice creams and other frozen desserts laced with probiotics are already available in other countries around the world, including Spain, Ireland, Belgium, China, and India. If you're going to eat ice cream, definitely take a probiotic with it.
One last comment: This works for lactobacillus, but not other probiotics that are designed to reach the intestines.
Singh, R.P., S.G. Damle, et al. “Salivary mutans streptococci and lactobacilli modulations in young children on consumption of probiotic ice-cream containing Bifidobacterium lactis Bb12 and Lactobacillus acidophilus La5,” Acta Odontol Scand. 2011 November;69(6):389-94. Epub 2011 April 5.