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A "Cultured" Response to HIV: Probiotics in Yogurt Could Hold Keys to Optimal Gut Health in HIVers

July 6, 2009

Yogurt may be a delicious snack for many people, and can be a healthy alternative to most pastries or potato chips. But can it also raise CD4 counts and protect against some HIV-related infections? Maybe so, say some researchers. A recent article in the journal Nature Medicine explores the connection between yogurt consumption and gastrointestinal health, or "gut health," for people with HIV.

HIV researchers have known since the early days of the pandemic that HIV can wreak havoc on the gut, which is home to an abundance of CD4 cells. This apparently occurs quite soon after someone is infected with HIV. "It's almost like the gut is a magnet for the virus early on," says Bill Critchfield of the University of California at Davis. "[It] becomes compromised in weeks."

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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Maria Vasquez (LOS ANGELES, CA.) Thu., May. 24, 2012 at 8:27 pm EDT
This article is wonderful news. Probiotics to the rescue again. I don't have AIDS, thank God, but I suffered most of my life with diarrhea, and ileitis. Probiotics have saved me from this dilemma. Thank you so much for sharing.
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Comment by: Brian (Los Angeles) Tue., Aug. 17, 2010 at 9:35 am EDT
I just read that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is conducting a study here in the U.S. to test probiotics in raising CD4 counts. They're using a kind of probiotics that doesn't need to come in yogurt or be refrigerated. Here's a link to the announcement: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/197406.php
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Comment by: Joseph (Niagara Falls) Tue., Apr. 27, 2010 at 12:54 pm EDT
I just purchased some probiotics from a company called SWISS (natural sources)"Probiotic Age", 7 billion c.f.u. with this warning. "Do Not Use "...if you have an immune compromised condition (eg AIDS)...." It is at this stage of HIV/AIDS that the body desperately needs these friendly bacteria to fight of Candida which causes cacheia and muscle waste...perhaps Swiss need to update their reasearch instead of placing unconfirmed information on their label.
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Comment by: Corey (Edmonton, AB) Mon., Dec. 7, 2009 at 4:49 am EST
you can drink Kefir even if you are lactose intolerant, the grains predigest the lactose in milk and make it drinkable by pretty much everyone, i've been drinking it for a bit now and I have to say I feel better than I have in YEARS, my 5 senses are MUCH more enhanced and i'm off depression medication, it seems that kefir also helps for depression, for a few hours after drinking it I have a HIGH that I feel [not like alcohol or drugs] a state of well being that's hard to explain but I have to say that Kefir has helped me EVER so much.
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Comment by: Melinda Wenner Tue., Oct. 27, 2009 at 5:05 pm EDT
Hi there,
Just a quick note to clarify that it's specifically probiotic yogurt that may provide these benefits. Most yogurts you find in supermarkets aren't probiotic. For help in choosing the right yogurt, download this PDF: http://www.isapp.net/docs/Consumer_Guidelines-probiotic.pdf
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Comment by: Xavier (Sydney, Australia) Mon., Jul. 13, 2009 at 2:55 am EDT
Wow....maybe I should start drinking/eating a probiotic.."YAKULT" is a popular brand here in AUSTRALIA.

Mind you a simple tub of yogurt with "live cultures" should do the trick ...plus its waaay less fattening than a bowl of ice cream after dinner...LOL
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Comment by: Mark (Curitiba-PR, Brazil) Fri., Jul. 10, 2009 at 11:18 pm EDT
Leyla, there is one probiotic you can take called kefir. I've been to the US and found industrialized kefir there (this is rarely found). I know that some countries in Europe industrialize kefir also. I take kefir at home (I ferment milk at home). If you can't tolerate lactose, you can have water kefir (which is the same as milk kefir but fermented in water). Short of industrialized kefir, you can obtain kefir grains for free, by donation. Kefir grains are not sold. Kefir has lots of friendly bacteria and fungi and other. The broad use of antibiotics in recent years has caused our guts to become unbalanced. Some friendly bacteria are acquired my brestfeeding and what do we do? We kill them taking antibiotics. Probiotics are not only good for HIV+ people. There are studies showing lower incidence of candida albicans (bad fungi) and a variety of cancers and heart diseases. Probiotics like kefir are good for general health.
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Comment by: LEYLA (UK) Thu., Jul. 9, 2009 at 2:19 pm EDT
What about if you are lactose intolerant?
I always get lots of mucus if I eat dairy for more than a couple of days.
Are there probiotics which do all of this but not derived from dairy? Or can be recommended even if you have a yeast sensitivity?
My digestion definitely got sensitive and easily messed up with hiv, I tell you that!
This is interesting stuff though, I wish they spent more time and money researching what nature has to offer in terms of hiv.
Thank you.
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Comment by: Liang (Singapore) Wed., Jul. 8, 2009 at 2:40 am EDT
Although the jury is still concern the benefits of probiotic for hivers; I was one lucky fellow who subscribe to the probiotic premise early. After my seroconversion which landed me with serious neuropathy in hospital, which during my stay, I consumed about 2 litres of yogurt drink daily. I was very prone to diarrhea and gum infection before being hiv positive. I must said that now, my gum health is even better than before, i even rinsed my mouth with a variety of probiotics, namely organic yogurt, organic vinegar, the key is about bacterial-diversity. I even rinsed my hand with the above so as to build colonies of good bacteria to combat the bad guys. Please do more research before jumping into following actions, especially if one has kidney issues as yogurt is very high in protein. As for me, probiotics really helped me.
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