It's no longer a secret that our digestive system harbors TRILLIONS of bacteria, both good and bad. The good bacteria, known as probiotics, have anti-inflammatory properties that can protect our bodies against heart disease, arthritis, and some auto-immune disorders like lupus. The bad ones CAUSE inflammation, which just ups our risk for all sorts of illnesses.
Now researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, have uncovered even more benefits to one of these "good" bacteria, Lactobacillus johnsonii 456. The probiotic is found in such foods as yogurt, sauerkraut, and kefir, and of course, in probiotic supplements.
To study its effects, researchers fed the probiotic to one group of mice with a genetic mutation that increased their risk for lymphoma (a cancer of the lymph glands). Another group of mice received a combination of good and bad bacteria.
Scientists were surprised to find that Lactobacillus johnsonii 456 not only protected the mice from developing lymphoma, but had less DNA damage and inflammation. Another benefit: Their fat cells and metabolism became more efficient at burning calories and sugar.
The UCLA researchers think the day may be near when replacing bad bacteria with targeted good ones--in the form of supplements--could be the secret to preventing cancer for everyone.