MooScience: the science of milk



Probiotics for Health

Fermented milk products like labneh or yogurt are made by adding bacteria, commonly called a starter culture or probiotics, to warm milk. As the bacteria multiple they convert the milk sugar, lactose, to lactic acid. This thickens the milk and gives it a tangier flavor. Starter cultures commonly contain lactic acid bacteria.

Bee on flower.  Honey is rich in probiotics.Picture: Like yogurt, fresh honey is rich in lactic acid bacteria. Bee nests contain 13 kinds of lactic acid bacteria. They kill unhealthy pathogens; such as bacteria, yeasts and fungi; that the bees pick up from flowers.

Live probiotics bacteria are good for you. Your intestinal tract is full of microorganisms that influence wellbeing. Adding beneficial bacteria from food to the mix can help improve health. Recent studies have suggested that probiotics benefit more than gut health via their effect on the gut-brain axis.


Probiotics help women lose weight

Taking a probiotic can help you lose weight. Sanchez et al. (2014) reported that women who consumed a probiotic (Lactobacillus rhamnosus) lost more weight over 12 week of dieting than women who took a placebo. In addition, the women taking the probiotic continued to lose weight and fat mass in the next 12 week maintenance cycle while the placebo group did not.


Probiotics treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Treatment with probiotics may reduce the pain and physical symptoms associated with IBS and other inflammatory bowel disorders (Theodorou et al. 2014, Ford et al. 2014). Studies showed that probiotics reduced global IBS, abdominal pain, bloating, and flatulence in people with IBS (Ford et al. 2014).

IBS may target the adaptive immune response triggering intestinal inflammation (Ohman and Simrén 2010) causing a impaired mechanism of host tolerance to the non-pathogenic gut microbiota (Sinagra et al. 2013). Probiotics could modulate that response through several mechanisms.


Possible mechanisms:

  1. Beneficial bacteria produce metabolites (chemical signals) that act directly on gut mucosa nerve endings (Ford et al. 2014).
  2. Probiotics produce metabolites that influence indirect pathways that target intestinal epithelial barrier, mucosal and/or systemic immune activation. This causes neuronal sensitization and/or activation (Ford et al. 2014).
  3. Probiotic supplementation alters the microbiome. Some probiotic strains have immunomodulatory effects; they inhibit Th-2 and stimulate a Th1 profile (Kramer and Heath 2014).
  4. Beneficial probiotics crowd out pathogenic bacteria in the gut through competition (Chong 2014).


Probiotics improve skin health

Probiotics may benefit skin health. Bacteria metabolites or cell fragments can promote skin immune responses which benefit the skin cell barrier. Studies have shown that these beneficial bacterial improve atopic eczema, promote skin's immunity, improves atopic dermatitis, help heal burn and scars, and may have skin-rejuvenating properties (Lew and Liong 2013).


Probiotics treat chronic rhinoconjunctivitis and chronic rhinosinusitis

Although more trials are needed, emerging evidence suggests that probiotics are an effective treatment for chronic rhinoconjunctivitis and chronic rhinosinusitis (Kramer and Heath 2014).


Probiotics may reduce the duration of acute respiratory infection

A review by King et al. (2014) found that taking probiotics may reduce acute respiratory illness duration by around a day in children and adults.


Gut-brain axis: biochemical signaling between the gastrointestinal tract and the nervous system (including the brain). This often involves intestinal microbiota (microorganisms).



  • Chong ES. A potential role of probiotics in colorectal cancer prevention: review of possible mechanisms of action. World J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2014;30:351-74. Pubmed. doi: 10.1007/s11274-013-1499-6.
  • Ford AC, Quigley EM, Lacy BE, Lembo AJ, Saito YA, Schiller LR, Soffer EE, Spiegel BM, Moayyedi P. Efficacy of Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Synbiotics in Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Chronic Idiopathic Constipation: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Am J Gastroenterol. 2014;109:1547-1561. Pubmed. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2014.202.
  • King S, Glanville J, Sanders ME, Fitzgerald A, Varley D. Effectiveness of probiotics on the duration of illness in healthy children and adults who develop common acute respiratory infectious conditions: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Nutr. 2014;112:41-54. Pubmed. doi: 10.1017/S0007114514000075.
  • Kramer MF, Heath MD. Probiotics in the treatment of chronic rhinoconjunctivitis and chronic rhinosinusitis. J Allergy (Cairo). 2014;2014:983635. Pubmed. doi: 10.1155/2014/983635.
  • Lew LC, Liong MT. Bioactives from probiotics for dermal health: functions and benefits. J Appl Microbiol. 2013;114:1241-53. Pubmed. doi: 10.1111/jam.12137.
  • Ohman L, Simrén M. Pathogenesis of IBS: role of inflammation, immunity and neuroimmune interactions. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2010;7:163-73. Pubmed. doi: 10.1038/nrgastro.2010.4.
  • Theodorou V, Belgnaoui AA, Agostini S, Eutamene H. Effect of commensals and probiotics on visceral sensitivity and pain in irritable bowel syndrome. Gut Microbes. 2014;5. Pubmed [Epub ahead of print]
  • Sanchez M, Darimont C, Drapeau V, Emady-Azar S, Lepage M, Rezzonico E, Ngom-Bru C, Berger B, Philippe L, Ammon-Zuffrey C, Leone P, Chevrier G, St-Amand E, Marette A, Doré J, Tremblay A. Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 supplementation on weight loss and maintenance in obese men and women. Br J Nutr. 2014;111:1507-19. Pubmed. doi: 10.1017/S0007114513003875.
  • Sinagra E, Tomasello G, Cappello F, Leone A, Cottone M, Bellavia M, Rossi F, Facella T, Damiani P, Zeenny MN, Damiani F, Abruzzo A, Damiano G, Palumbo VD, Cocchi M, Jurjus A, Spinelli G, Lo Monte AI, Raimondo D. Probiotics, prebiotics and symbiotics in inflammatory bowel diseases: state-of-the-art and new insights. J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2013;27:919-33. Pubmed.