Inflammatory bowel disease: New probiotics from fungi may help

Evan Walker
Evan Walker TheMediTary.Com |
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Researchers say fungi from yogurt, cheese, and other foods may be useful in creating new probiotics. Lucy Lambriex/Getty Images
  • New research shows two fungi strains having a positive probiotic effect on the gut health in a mouse model.
  • Research into gut health generally focuses on bacteria, not fungi, so the role that fungi plays in the gut microbiome is understudied.
  • More research is needed before these results could be applied in a human clinical setting.
  • Gut inflammation is frequently caused by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
  • Consulting with a doctor can help people understand the best options for managing their condition, which can include probiotics and other medications.

Fungi have been in our food for millennia.

The historical record shows that humans have been fermenting fruits and grains to produce alcoholic beverages and bread since around 6000 BCE, while cheese has been produced for even longer.

Despite this, relatively little is known about the role that fungi, in particular food-borne yeast, play in overall gut Health.

Researchers say they have found that two specific fungi used to produce food products could potentially have a positive probiotic effect on gut inflammation.

Their findings were published today in mSystems, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

While the results are promising, the study authors said there’s more work to be done and cautioned against viewing the findings as a cure-all for stomach problems.

Rhianna Jones, is a registered nurse who specializes in gut health.

Jones, who was not part of the study, told Medical News Today that understanding the role of fungi in gut health is a work in progress.

“The diversity of food-borne yeasts and their potential effects on gut Health is an emerging area of interest,” she explained. “While some food-borne yeasts have been studied for their probiotic potential, much remains unknown about their specific impact on the gut microbiome and human Health.”

The research by Richard and his colleagues reported that fungi could have a positive probiotic effect on gut health. This is intriguing because while probiotics are known to have a positive impact on the gut microbiome, they generally come from bacteria, not fungus.

In any event, bacterial probiotics offer an option for people who are dealing with gut problems.

“Probiotics are live beneficial microorganisms, usually bacteria, that can support gut health when consumed in adequate amounts,” said Jones. “They can help maintain a balanced gut microbiome and have been associated with improved digestion, immunity and more. They’re available in various forms, including supplements and fermented foods like yogurt.”

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