Prebiotics Mimic Fat and a Yeast Helps Preterm Infants

Litchi chinensis Luc Viatour
The probiotic yeast, Saccharomyces boulardii, was initially found in lychees.
Probiotic yeast proves just as good as an anti-fungal at preventing sepsis in preterm infants, your genes determine your microflora, and a prebiotic makes yogurt creamy.

Your Genes Alter Your Microflora

The walls of the intestines are lined with a carbohydrate-rich mucus. Besides offering protection against the luminal contents, mucus can also provide nourishment for intestinal microflora. Using genetically-deficient mice, scientists from Stanford were able to determine that loss of a gene for a critical enzyme needed to add fructose molecules to the mucus caused a significant change in the microflora community. However, when the mice were fed with a diet supplemented with bacterial nutrients, no differences were seen. The bacterial residents were also sensitive to changes in nourishment, expressing genes needed to metabolize different food sources depending on their availability.

Preterm Infants Helped by Yeast

Premature infants are susceptible to harmful fungal infections, which can lead to sepsis. In a Turkish study, preventative measures were examined in a group of 181 premature infants. One group received an anti-fungal and the other Saccharomyces boulardii. They found that supplementation with the yeast probiotic was just as effective as the anti-fungal at preventing fungal infections in the infants and even more effective at preventing dangerous sepsis.

Prebiotics Could Replace Fat

The addition of new ingredients to yogurt needs to be first investigated to determine changes in taste, texture and appearance. Adding inulin, which has prebiotic functions, could be a valuable addition to yogurt. Tests found that adding short-chain inulin could be a win-win situation. Besides adding a prebiotic bonus, inulin was found to simulate the same texture and appearance as fat. This would make low-fat yogurt appear even creamier than normal.