Probiotics Protect Against Heavy Metal Toxicity
Fascinating new research reveals that pregnant women who eat yogurt containing live probiotics may be able to protect their unborn infants from exposure to potentially dangerous heavy metals. We’re not talking loud, head-banging music. We’re talking lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic and other metallic heavy elements that have been linked to birth defects and neurological damage.
The research was conducted in Tanzania, where mothers and their infants are at increased risk for heavy metal exposure, due to environmental damage along the shores of Lake Victoria. Investigators had previously noted that the probiotic bacteria, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, has a great affinity for binding heavy metals.
By binding these environmental toxins, the bacteria help prevent the absorption of the heavy metals. Instead of entering the bloodstream, they’re eliminated naturally. Mothers and children who consumed the yogurt experienced lower levels of heavy metal contamination than women and children who did not consume the probiotic food.
Pregnant women who experienced significant drops in mercury and arsenic, for example, could expect to have healthier infants. “…Reduction in these compounds in the mothers could presumably decrease negative developmental effects in their fetus and newborns,"said Dr. Gregor Reid, who led a research team from the Canadian Centre for Human Microbiome and Probiotics.
This is yet another example of the numerous health benefits of probiotics. Probiotics are friendly bacteria and yeast that live in the human digestive tract. They’re found in fermented foods, such as yogurt, refrigerated sauerkraut, cheese, kefir (a fermented milk drink) and even pickled vegetables.
Gregor Reid et al. Randomized Open-Label Pilot Study of the Influence of Probiotics and the Gut Microbiome on Toxic Metal Levels in Tanzanian Pregnant Women and School Children. mBio, October 2014 DOI: 10.1128/mBio.01580-14