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This is the unedited version of the "Probiotics" presentation given at the University of Arizona's College of Medicine. Its intent was to demonstrate that even in the "hard sciences" base emotional biases can interfere with good scientific data and interpretation. To fully appreciate this presentation, you must be eating yogurt prior to beginning to view it, and proceed through the slides one at a time without skipping ahead. This is the actual slide show that was shown at the seminar and is not for the squeamish. I'll post a more benign version for those not wishing to test their boundaries and "good taste."

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  • Probiotics

    1. 1. Probiotics Nyles Bauer March 28 th 2008
    2. 2. What are Probiotics? <ul><li>As defined by FAO and WHO, probiotics are: “Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.” </li></ul><ul><li>Most people think of probiotics as “good bacteria” that can colonize and replace “bad bacteria” or pathogens in the body. This view is certainly promoted by the probiotic industry. </li></ul>
    3. 3. Alfalfa Sprouts <ul><li>In over a year of testing alfalfa sprouts ALL sprout samples, whether obtained from markets, or from the production facility itself, tested positive for fecal coliforms , specifically E. coli . </li></ul>
    4. 4. Yogurt <ul><li>The darling of the health conscious consumer and a huge industry in the United States and worldwide. </li></ul>
    5. 5. Yogurt <ul><li>It has been claimed that yogurt originated in Bulgaria hence the name Lactobacillus bulgaricus . </li></ul><ul><li>Yogurt is readily found throughout the world. I’ve personally found it produced in the remotest parts of Mongolia by true nomads, so this claim is certainly not true. </li></ul><ul><li>Yogurt is not one standardized mix of bacterial cultures, but varies regionally and even from batch to batch. </li></ul>
    6. 6. Yogurt <ul><li>When produced in the United States commercially produced yogurt must at least contain: </li></ul><ul><li>Lactobacillus bulgaricus : Many commercially used species of this genus are opportunistically pathogenic and fatal infections do occasionally occur. </li></ul><ul><li>Staphylococcus thermophilus : This commercially used species also causes rare but potentially lethal infections. The genus contains very closely related pathogenic species. Its name is often disguised on the ingredients list as are unsavory sounding bacteria such as Bifidobacterium animalis currently trademarked as “Bifidis regularis™” by Dannon Yogurt. </li></ul>
    7. 7. Is Yogurt Truly a Probiotic? <ul><li>Lactobacillus acidophilus , very often used in yogurt , and Streptococcus thermophilus have both been readily cultured from the human mouth and teeth where they play a role in tooth decay because of the acidic environment they produce. </li></ul>
    8. 8. Is Yogurt Truly a Probiotic? <ul><li>Lactobacillus acidophilus is also often found in the vaginal flora of women of childbearing age where it seems to aid in the maintenance of an acidic environment. However, 30% of healthy women do not demonstrate significant vaginal colonization by any lactobacillus species, yet they also maintain an acidic vaginal environment. </li></ul>
    9. 9. Is Yogurt Truly a Probiotic? <ul><li>Many studies fail to demonstrate any colonization of the gastrointestinal tract by Lactobacillus acidophilus at all, even in those people that have regularly eaten yogurt containing this bacterium. </li></ul><ul><li>This is not to say that eating yogurt offers no health benefits, but that the many of the health claims made may not be due to Lactobacillus actually surviving in the gut. </li></ul>
    10. 10. Emotional Aspects <ul><li>It appears that, at least in alfalfa sprouts, E. coli may not be an indicator of fecal contamination at all despite being classified as a fecal coliform. </li></ul><ul><li>It is likely that E. coli can reproduce and maintain themselves on alfalfa sprouts. </li></ul><ul><li>Alfalfa sprouts are irrigated with water containing disinfectants. I don’t believe that I have ever tested any sprout irrigation water that has tested positive for any coliforms, including E. coli . No organic fertilizers are used in any sprout production facility I have seen or heard of. </li></ul>
    11. 11. Emotional Aspects <ul><li>Alfalfa Sprouts may be truly probiotic since they contain E. coli which readily colonizes the G.I. tract, while Yogurt may not be probiotic at all, at least by the current popular definition. </li></ul><ul><li>In fact, non-pathogenic E. coli strains are currently in use as probiotics. </li></ul>
    12. 12. Emotional Aspects <ul><li>Sprouts have certainly been contaminated by pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7 and salmonella, but the health risk is far less than other products sold in supermarkets such as alcohol, cigarettes, sulfur-dioxide treated dry fruits, peanuts, raw chicken, and even long term consumption of beef. </li></ul><ul><li>Perhaps alfalfa sprouts should be inoculated with beneficial E. coli for health reasons, and to displace potential contamination by related pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7 and salmonella. </li></ul>
    13. 13. Emotional Aspects <ul><li>E. coli found on sprouts are referred to as “ Fecal Coliforms ” while bacteria found in Yogurt are referred to as “ Probiotics ” apparently biasing not only consumer opinion but scientific judgment. </li></ul>
    14. 14. Emotional Aspects <ul><li>Alfalfa Sprouts have been removed from nearly all supermarkets as a “PHP” (Potentially Hazardous Product) while Yogurt is promoted as a food for health conscious people with active lifestyles. </li></ul>
    15. 15. Let’s Turn the Tables on Probiotics <ul><li>To address the issue of an “emotional scientific bias”, I took a trip to Sofia, Bulgaria the supposed “Home of Yogurt.” </li></ul>
    16. 16. Methodology <ul><li>It is likely that yogurt was inadvertently created by the accidental contamination of milk. </li></ul><ul><li>What then was the original source of the contamination? </li></ul>
    17. 17. Investigational Methodology <ul><li>Since both the genus Lactobacillus and Streptococcus thermophilus have a longstanding intimate relationship with humans, and yogurt was developed by humans, this seemed the best place to start. </li></ul><ul><li>But who to see and where…? </li></ul>
    18. 18. Investigational Methodology <ul><li>A readily accessible source of native human bacterial flora was needed. </li></ul>
    19. 19. Prostitutes <ul><li>Sofia, Bulgaria was resplendent with prostitutes. </li></ul><ul><li>Prostitutes proved a readily available and diverse resource. </li></ul><ul><li>Prostitutes are treated as a commercial commodity by the Bulgarian authorities. </li></ul><ul><li>Hygiene was minimal due to the lack of governmental oversight, thus allowing for a bounty of culturable bacteria. </li></ul>
    20. 20. Microbiological Methodology <ul><li>Vaginal cultures were obtained by standard gynecological swabbing procedures of the labial folds, as well both shallow and deep sampling of the vaginal canal. </li></ul>
    21. 21. Microbiological Methodology <ul><li>Fresh vaginal swabbings were then placed in either a commercially available bacterial transport media or in growth media for Lactobacilli (MRS meat extract tomato juice media). </li></ul>
    22. 22. Microbiological Methodology <ul><li>Prostitute derived vaginal and labial swabs were cultured by plating on appropriate growth media for Lactobacilli after being transferred to a commercial medical diagnostic laboratory for isolation and identification of L. acidophilus by 16S rRNA gene sequencing . </li></ul><ul><li>A strain of Streptococcus thermophilus (LMG 18311, GRAS approved) commonly used in Yogurt production was obtained. </li></ul>
    23. 23. Results <ul><li>Yogurt was produced in abundance by inoculating pasteurized milk with only these two bacteria! </li></ul>
    24. 24. Results <ul><li>As a separate experiment pasteurized milk was inoculated directly with several extra vaginal culture swabs to see if milk, by itself, was selective for Lactobacilli. </li></ul>
    25. 25. Results <ul><li>The result was an abundant growth of unknown microorganisms. </li></ul>
    26. 26. Results <ul><li>An example of a 16S DNA report derived from one dominant microbe found in the milk that was directly inoculated with a swab. This cultured milk sample was discarded. </li></ul>
    27. 27. Looking Out for Your Best Interest <ul><li>Do we really want Government organizations such as the FDA, USDA, and CDC removing foods from the market that have less health risk than other foods because industries such as sprout producers don’t have money to lobby politicians? </li></ul><ul><li>If so, then be prepared to lose cut cantaloupe, sushi, and other produce and dairy items. </li></ul><ul><li>Perhaps a warning for children, the elderly, and those immunocompromised to avoid eating these products is a more rational option. </li></ul>
    28. 28. Acknowledgements <ul><li>I’d like to thank Fry’s Supermarket for providing today’s seminar with the frozen yogurt. </li></ul>