How many live bacteria do you swallow at each meal?

For the first time, American researchers have tried to estimate the amount of live bacteria that we swallow at each meal. Because if some can make us sick and are prohibited, others could have beneficial effects on health.

The foods we eat are not sterile, they are covered in bacteria that are not not always harmful, on the contrary. An American study by The Journal of Nutrition Nutritional Epidemiologyaims to estimate the amount of bacteria that children and adults ingest during a meal. To do this, they classified foods according to their bacterial load: low (104 live bacteria/g), medium (104-107 live bacteria/g) or high (>107 live bacteria/g). Fruits and vegetables provide a low to medium amount of live bacteria, while dairy products provide a large amount, mainly lactobacteria.

Americans are consuming more bacteria than before

According to the results of the study, children and adolescents consume 69, 16 and 85 grams of low, high and medium bacteria foods respectively per day; that’s 106, 21, and 127 grams of food per day for adults. This is much more than twenty years ago (2001-2002), when the last follow-up of this type was carried out in the United States. But this is the first time that scientists have made the link with an approximate amount of living bacteria.

Work remains to be done to refine these results according to age, sex and socio-demographic profile, but also to understand the role of bacteria on health. Because if the presence of certain strains pathogenslike the E.coli enterotoxins and salmonella which hit the headlines not long ago are outlawed, other bacteria would stimulate immunity once they arrive in the intestine. An assertion that has yet to be proven by rigorous scientific studies.

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