A humble tub of yoghurt could contain the cure for certain types of antibiotic-resistant bowel bacteria, according to recent research .
Overuse of antibiotics has led to colonisation of the bowel with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, including vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), which are responsible for persistent and transmissible infections.
Probiotics, found in some commercial yoghurts, may have a beneficial effect on human gut health by helping to restore the normal gut organisms.
Ms Karen Manley, Renal Dietitian at Austin Health, Melbourne, and colleagues conducted a study to determine whether eating yoghurt could help clear VRE from the bowel.
The results of their study are published in the latest issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.
They found that 11 patients who regularly ate yoghurt containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) bacteria were all free of VRE within 4 weeks.
Of the 12 control patients who ate standard yoghurt without LGG, 10 remained VRE-positive after 4 weeks.
The authors explain that yoghurt containing LGG works because LGG can survive stomach and bile acids to remain in sufficient numbers to reach the bowel.
The study also revealed that LGG bacteria are both resistant and susceptible to a range of antibiotics.
The authors point out that, although there were no adverse effects of LGG detected in their study, safety of the probiotic in patients who are extremely unwell or immunocompromised is uncertain.
They conclude that larger trials and further research are required to investigate the effectiveness of LGG in preventing primary infection.