Diarrhea kills as many a million children yearly.
Food and water borne pathogens are the primary culprits. Many children will recover but when they are already malnourished or immunocompromised as is true in many developing countries, severe illness and even death can follow.
Probiotics are being looked at to shore up the immune systems in such situations.
If used exclusively, breastfeeding, with its rich mix of probotics, may protect babies from village pathogens. Various well-controlled studies have shown benefits with strains of Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium lactis and Lactobacillus reuteri .
Yogurt is another excellent source. It usually contains Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus cultures. Children with acute diarrhea showed more rapid recovery when given yogurt than those given milk.
Yaa Asantewaa Kafui Klu and colleagues at the University of Georgia in the United States evaluated peanut butter as another vehicle in which to deliver helpful cultures.
Why peanut butter?
Well, it has some stellar qualities: It packs protein and calories in a small portion and is easily transported and stored.
The researchers inoculated multiple strains of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Streptococcus and Lactococcus into full fat or reduced fat peanut butter. The mixtures were stored for one entire year at 4, 25 or 37 degrees C.
Bifidobacterium lived the longest. And fat content didn’t change the results.
Read the article here in Food Microbiology.