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Probiotics can Protect Against Heavy Metal Poisoning

Update Date: Oct 07, 2014 01:23 PM EDT

Probiotics sourced from yogurt can help protect children and pregnant women against heavy metal poisoning, a new study reported.

For this study, researchers from Canada and Tanzania tested the effects of consuming yogurt that contained the probiotic bacteria known as Lactobacillus rhamnosus. Prior to the start of the research, the team led by Dr. Gregor Reid from the Canadian Center for Human Microbiome and Probiotics noted that L. rhamnosus tended to bind to toxic heavy metals. Based from this knowledge, the researchers wanted to see if L. rhamnosus could protect against certain environmental health damage that occurs in poorer regions of the world.

Dr. Reid worked with the Western Heads East Organization to create a probiotic yogurt that would be distributed to community kitchens throughout Mwanza, Tanzania. Mwanza is located near Lake Victoria, a body of water polluted with pesticides and toxic metals. The community kitchens gave out the probiotic yogurt to pregnant women and children. The researchers measured the two groups' levels of toxic metals before and after the experiment.

The researchers found that the probiotic yogurt effectively protected pregnant women against arsenic and mercury. Within the children group, there were also reductions in toxins. However, the findings in childnre were not statistically significant due to the sample size and the duration of the experiment.

"Reduction in these compounds in the mothers could presumably decrease negative developmental effects in their fetus and newborns," Dr. Reid said according to the press release.

The study was published in the American Society for Microbiology's open access journal, mBio.

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