I am re-releasing a prior Wheat Belly Blog post about making the mixed-culture yogurt that includes Lactobacillus reuteri but at lower counts than our usual L. reuteri yogurt crafted specifically to yield super-duper high bacterial counts. I fear that I may have failed to make my case, as we wade through the evolving issues in this deeply fascinating world of targeted cultivation of the human microbiome for health, weight, and psychological benefits.
I initially had reservations over whether younger people, especially younger women, should consume our super-duper high bacterial count Lactobacillus reuteri yogurt. Recall that, by using my unique fermentation process not used to make conventional yogurt (lower fermentation temperature, prolonged fermentation, fermentation in the presence of prebiotic fibers), we generate ultra-high bacterial counts likely in the 50-100 billion range per 1/2-cup serving. But this is the quantity that appears to yield the extravagant benefits we’ve been witnessing such as smoother skin, an explosion in dermal collagen, accelerated healing, increased libido, increased testosterone in males, complete freedom from appetite, and others.
L reuteri works by provoking hypothalamic release of the hormone, oxytocin. In addition to all the benefits that, in effect, amount to age-reversal, oxytocin can also stimulate uterine contraction, as that is how it is used in obstetrics: provoke uterine contraction and cerivcal dilatation via oxytocin injection. So could this provoke inadvertent uterine contraction in a pregnant woman not ready for delivery or a female during her menstrual cycle even at times when the uterus, unlike full-term pregnancy, may not be fully “receptive” to the contractile effects of oxytocin? Nobody knows the answers to these questions, as it would be unethical to administer oxytocin in those situations. So, to be safe, I suggested that no potentially childbearing female should consume the yogurt at full strength. (Interestingly, I heard from a number of menstruating females who reported that their menstrual cycles were—paradoxically–among the least painful and least emotionally turbulent they had ever had, but purely anecdote on a limited scale.)
But there are also the following observations:
- Most people in Western society had L reuteri in their bowel flora up until the mid-twentieth century, according to Dr. Gerhard Reuter, the discover of L. reuteri, from infants on up.
- Most people would likely have obtained L. reuteri via breastfeeding from their mothers as a baby, as this is where it was originally obtained (from a woman living in the highlands of Peru)
- Most people in the 21st century lack this microorganism, likely part of the changing landscape of the microbiome due to antibiotics, herbicides,/pesticides, etc.
- L. reuteri administered to infants and children reduces infantile colic, regurgitation, and accelerates reversal of antibiotic-associated diarrhea with no side-effects reported.
I have speculated that, if L reuteri is no longer harbored by most modern people and is responsible for triggering oxytocin, a hormone that also yields empathy and a desire for human connectedness, could the relative lack of oxytocin in modern people at least partially explain social phenomena such as increasing social isolation, record-setting suicide rates, and escalating divorce? Could consumption of the yogurt thereby help reverse such troublesome modern social phenomena? I think it will.
So, the for above reasons, I believe that everyone should obtain L reuteri. You can, of course, obtain it or provide it to your family via the commercial probiotic, Gastrus or the more recently released higher potency Osfortis (both of which you can find available in the Wheat Belly Marketplace). Or you could make a mixed culture yogurt that yields L reuteri but at lower bacterial counts, as described below. By FDA regulations, to call a commercial product “yogurt,” it must be fermented with the organisms Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. We, of course, are not using those species and, if we were to sell the yogurt commercially, could not label it “yogurt” even though it looks, smells, and tastes like yogurt.
But we do not have sufficient evidence to know whether the super-duper high bacterial counts of our L reuteri yogurt are safe in younger people. If you are therefore interested in obtaining L. reuteri but at lower counts for younger people who have higher endogenous (self-produced) oxytocin levels and/or don’t want over-exposure to oxytocin, you can do so by making a mixed culture yogurt in which L reuteri is only one participant along with Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus, and other fermenting species. This would be like growing tomatoes: If you grow only tomatoes in your garden, you should have a huge bounty of tomatoes. But if you grow cucumbers, zucchini, herbs, and tomatoes, you garden will yield fewer tomatoes. So it goes with L. reuteri in a mixed-culture yogurt.
The ways to accomplish this are limitless, but this is how I did it. The end-result was the most delicious yogurt I ever had. Also, note that commercial yogurts are typically fermented for brief periods such as 6-8 hours, as briefly as possible so that production is not slowed. This is part of the reason why you find thickening and emulsifying agents added to commercial yogurts: to thicken via additives, rather than fermentation. It means that commercial yogurts typically have very low bacterial counts and thereby are not very effective probiotics. We are not, of course, restricted by production times and continue to ferment for longer periods, though not as long as that used for our super-duper high-bacterial count L. reuteri yogurt.
I chose an unflavored Trader Joe’s whole milk Greek yogurt with live cultures of Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Lactobacillus casei, as well as an unspecified Bifidobacteria species. (As is typical for commercial yogurts, as well as most probiotics, no strains are specified.)
Here is how I did it, step-by-step. First, begin with a glass or ceramic bowl or other vessel:
Add 2 level tablespoons of prebiotic fiber such as inulin or raw potato starch:
Add 1 tablespoon each of live culture yogurt, 1 tablespoon of L. reuteri yogurt (or 5 crushed tablets of Gastrus or 1 capsule Osfortis):
Add a little, e.g., 2 tablespoons, of your choice of dairy; I used organic half-and-half. Make a slurry by stirring; this prevents clumping of the prebiotic fiber.
Stir in remainder of half-and-half or other liquid:
Ferment by maintaining at 100-105 degrees F for 32 hours. I used a slightly higher temperature than the 100 degrees used in our super-duper high-count L reuteri yogurt, since conventional yogurt-fermenting organisms “prefer” a higher temperature than L. reuteri, but not so high as to degrade L reuteri counts. I used a basin-type sous vide device, but you can use a stick sous vide, yogurt maker with adjustable temperature control, or Instant Pot. (Just be careful with the Instant Pot or yogurt makers without adjustable temperature, as they are set to be compatible with conventional yogurt microorganisms and are often too hot and kill L. reuteri. If in doubt, turn on your device and measure the temperature reached with a thermometer first before you ruin a batch.)
The end-result for me was rich, thick, and delicious, better tasting—and with far higher probiotic bacterial counts—than anything you can buy in a store.