People seem to be having a tough time locating the Wheat Belly Blog post in which I summarized how we make the L. reuteri yogurt, so I’m re-posting it. Remember: It’s NOT about yogurt; it’s about a means of amplifying the counts of a specific bacteria that possesses unique properties. To maximize bacterial counts, the recipe to make the yogurt therefore includes a prebiotic fiber and prolonged fermentation, very different from conventional yogurt. And, no, NONE of these benefits come from consuming conventional yogurt.
We make the yogurt with two strains of Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC PTA 6475 and DSM 17938, based on the detailed studies conducted at MIT and elsewhere, both experimental animal and human, that have suggested dramatic effects. Those effects include:
- Complete shut-down of appetite, an “anorexigenic” effect, that can be used to facilitate intermittent fasting or break a weight loss plateau. This, along with an increase in metabolic rate, explain why weight loss results.
- Dramatic increase in skin thickness and skin collagen, along with acceleration of skin healing, a surrogate for overall youthfulness and health. I’m a big fan of dietary collagen, such as those provided by collagen hydrolysates, bone broths/soups, slow-cooking meats, eating the skin on chicken and fish, etc. This L. reuteri strategy amplifies this effect considerably.
- Increased oxytocin–A doubling of oxytocin blood levels was observed in mice, the effect responsible for the extravagant skin benefits, reduced insulin resistance, dramatic increases in testosterone in males, increased estrogen in females (magnitude unclear), thicker and more plentiful hair (though the consistency of this effect is not yet clear).
Other studies have demonstrated substantial weight loss, especially from visceral fat, increased muscle mass, and increased bone density (protection from osteoporosis/osteopenia).
Put all these effects together—caloric reduction, increased skin health, increased bone density, fat loss, muscle gain, reduced insulin resistance, etc.—and you have one of the most powerful anti-aging, youth-preserving strategies I have ever come across.
Because the most robust data were generated using the ATCC PTA 6475 strain of L. reuteri and, to a lesser extent, the DSM 17938 strain, I have been confining my efforts to these strains. Other L.reuteri strains may mimic these effects, but we simply don’t know that for certain, as the studies have not been performed. Strain specificity can be a crucial factor. After all, all of us have several strains of E. coli in our intestines that live quietly and don’t bother anyone. But, get exposed to strains of E. coli from contaminated produce and you develop life-threatening diarrhea and kidney failure that can be fatal, especially in children. Same species (E. coli), different strains—strain specificity can be a critical factor.
So I have been amplifying bacterial counts by making yogurt. The counts are further increased by performing fermentation in the presence of prebiotic fibers. Just as ingesting prebiotic fibers increases bacterial counts in your intestines, so it goes in making yogurt, as well. It also yields a thicker, richer end-product. (I don’t know why EVERY commercial yogurt maker doesn’t adopt this practice, as the results are so much superior both in bacterial counts and in taste/texture.)
The yogurt is thick, delicious, and contains a marked increase in bacterial counts. (We are in the process of performing formal counts). Given the extraordinary thickness of the end-product, it is likely that trillions of CFUs are present, sufficient to convert the soupy liquid of your starting milk, half-and-half, cream, coconut milk or other starter to rich, thick yogurt, sometimes thick enough to stand up on a plate. People who consume 1/2 cup per day of this preparation (mixed with blueberries, strawberries, etc.) are reporting the effects listed above. And this yogurt is so much richer and better tasting than products you buy in grocery stores.
There are probably many ways to make this yogurt and yield the bacterial counts you desire. But this is how I do it:
1 quart of organic half-and-half (or cream, whole milk, canned coconut milk, goat’s milk/cream, sheep’s milk/cream)
2 tablespoons inulin or unmodified potato starch or other prebiotic
10 tablets of BioGaia Gastrus, crushed
The probiotic tablets can be crushed using a mortar and pestle or other hard object (clean stone, bottom of a thick drinking glass, rolling pin, etc.). Don’t worry: The end-product should have little remaining sugar or starch, as it is fermented to lactic acid. (If in doubt, just let it ferment a few more hours.) Just as the cucumbers you grow in your garden were fertilized with cow manure but ripe cucumbers contain no cow manure, so the final fermented yogurt product should contain little to no sugar or starch.
(Coconut milk is tougher to work with. If you use coconut milk, you will need to add sugar, e.g., one tablespoon, to the prebiotic or use more sugar in place of the prebiotic, as there is no lactose to ferment in coconut milk. You will also need to preheat the coconut milk in a saucepan to 180 degrees F; add 3 tablespoons powdered gelatin and stir until dissolved; cool to 100 degrees F, then use a stick blender for 30-40 seconds to emulsify the oil; add crushed tablets or two tablespoons of a prior batch.)
In large glass/ceramic bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of liquid with the inulin or other prebiotic and the crushed probiotic tablets (or two tablespoons of yogurt from a prior batch). We start by making a slurry, as inulin or potato starch will form hard clumps if added to the entire volume. Mix thoroughly by hand and make sure the prebiotic is dissolved. Then add the remaining liquid and stir.
Maintain the mixture at 100 degrees F for 36 hours. This can be accomplished with a yogurt maker, Instant Pot, sous vide device, rice cooker, or any other device that allows maintaining a continual temperature in this range. I use my oven: Turn onto any temperature, e.g., 300 degrees, for about 60-90 seconds, just until a desert-hot temperature is reached. Turn off the oven; repeat every 4-6 hours—not precise, but it works fine when using dairy for fermentation. I also used a yogurt maker and sous vide with good results. Of all your choices, the sous vide is the easiest and most foolproof. (Some other devices have too high a temperature setting that kills L. reuteri that is not as heat tolerant as some other microbes used to ferment yogurt.) The prolonged fermentation is not how conventional commercial yogurt is made, typically fermented for only a few hours, yielding low bacterial counts and plenty of residual lactose and intact casein. The fermentation methods I use involve 1) addition of the prebiotic fiber to enhance bacterial counts, and 2) prolonged fermentation that likewise yields greater bacterial counts while exhausting most of the lactose that is converted to lactic acid that, in turn, denatures (breads down) much of the casein beta A1 protein.
The first batch tends to be a bit thinner with curdles, but subsequent batches tend to be thicker and smoother. To make subsequent batches, reserve a few tablespoons from the prior batch and use in place of crushed tablets, since your yogurt should contain plentiful microbes. Optionally, strain your yogurt through cheesecloth to remove the whey and create Greek-style yogurt, or simply pour off the whey.
If you give it a try, be sure to come back and report your experience. If you are encountering difficulty, see this troubleshooting guide.