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When it comes to choosing the right natural foods to stay young and fight disease remember this simple phrase: Say cheese!

Chose the right food and say: Gouda cheese!

Specifically, say Gouda cheese. Scientists have been studying the health benefits a specific brand of Gouda that is rich in the bacteria Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 and Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM. These two helpful bacteria, which naturally occur in dairy products, have been shown to help prevent inflammation and infection in the elderly.

A research team led by Dr. Fandi Ibrahim, publishing their findings in an article in the medical journal FEMS Immunology & Medical Microbiology, conducted a very simple test in a nursing home. Thirty-one men and women aged 72 to 103 who volunteered for the experiment were given a slice of Gouda cheese enriched two strains of probiotic bacteria for four weeks. They were then monitored for another two weeks to see how their immune systems reacted to consuming the helpful bacteria in the cheese.

Blood tests showed that phagocytes, white blood cells that surround and devour bacteria, were more active in the elderly after they ate the cheese. Apparently the bacteria in the cheese build up in the colon and "train" white blood cells how to respond to the other kinds of bacteria that actually cause infections.

Special probiotic cheeseis great for many reasons 

Eating the special probiotic cheese also stimulated the activity of natural killer, also known as NK, cells. These cells emit chemicals that kill infectious microorganisms. When NK cells kill infections quickly, the immune system does not have to rely as heavily on other methods of controlling infections that involve inflaming and destroying healthy cells. Since consuming the probiotic cheese helps the NK cells to be better regulated, inflammation is less of a problem throughout the body.

Consuming the probiotic cheese, Dr. Ibrahim and his colleagues believe, helps the elderly fend off the colds, flu, and bladder infections that don't just make life difficult, but often are life-threatening, especially to the elderly in nursing care.

The effects of consuming probiotics in younger immune systems are equally strong, although the younger people are at lower risk of certain infections. Younger people actually have far larger numbers of helpful, probiotic bacteria living in their lower digestive tracts. Researchers reporting findings in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA report that there are between 17,000 and 36,000 different kinds of bacteria that make the human colon.

Just a single milliliter of fluid in the small intestine (there about 240 milliliters in a cup) contains somewhere between 10,000,000 (ten million) and 1,000,000,000 (one billion) bacteria. Every single milliliter of fluid in the colon, which is downstream from the small intestine, contains between 10,000,000,000 (ten billion) and 1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) bacteria. A healthy adult usually provides a home for approximately 1,000,000,000,000,000 (one quadrillion) bacteria. About 1/3 of all the contents of a healthy digestive tract are actually living bacteria, which make vitamins, digest fiber, help upset stomachs keep food down, and make elimination easier.

Maintaining those incredibly large numbers of bacteria is an important aspect of staying healthy, fighting not just infections, but also cancer, high cholesterol, and allergies, not just in old age, but at every time of life. Eating probiotic cheese and yogurts with live cultures keeps the population of useful bacteria high, the new probiotic Gouda cheeses offering useful strains usually not found in yogurt.


  • Ibrahim F, Ruvio S, Granlund L, Salminen S, Viitanen M, Ouwehand AC. Probiotics and immunosenescence: cheese as a carrier.FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2010 Jun 1,59(1):53-9. Epub 2010 Feb 11.