SHAFAQNA – Probiotics offer protection against heavy metal poisoning among children and pregnant women, a new study shows. The recent study, with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, conducted by Canadian and Tanzanian researchers, showed that yogurt containing probiotic bacteria offered successful protection against heavy metal poisoning. For the study, the researchers created and distributed a special yogurt Lactobacillus rhamnosus bacteria and watched the outcomes among a control group. The study is published this week in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.
A research team from the Canadian Centre for Human Microbiome and Probiotics, led by Dr. Gregor Reid, studied the way in which microbes could protect against environmental health damage in poorer parts of the world. Research from their lab indicated that L. rhamnosus had a preference for binding toxic heavy metals. Using this knowledge, the team hypothesized that regular consumption of the probiotic strain could prevent absorption of metals in one’s diet.
Dr. Reid, working with the Western Heads East organization, had already established a network of community kitchens in Mwanza, Tanzania to produce a probiotic yogurt for the local population. Mwanza, located on the shores of Lake Victoria, is known to be polluted with pesticides and toxic metals including mercury.
The team discovered a significant protective effect of the probiotic against mercury and arsenic in pregnant women. Dr. Reid said in a statement that this is important as “reduction in these compounds in the mothers could presumably decrease negative developmental effects in their fetus and newborns.”
According to WebMD, heavy metal poisoning is the accumulation of heavy metals, in toxic amounts, in the soft tissues of the body.