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Fermenting Milk May Help Ulcer Sufferers

A big breakthrough occurred several years ago when it was finally proven that a bacteria - Helicobacter pylori - was the cause of most stomach ulcers. Up until that time, many factors including stress and diet were thought to be the agents that led to ulcers. Even before the cause of the disease was identified, it was common practice for medical doctors to prescribe milk to ulcer patients as a way of reducing the symptoms of ulcers. Once the bacteria was identified, antibiotics have become the most common form of treatment. Recent findings indicate that fermented milk may offer an alternative to antibiotics.


Milk has a very strong buffering capacity - that is when milk enters the stomach, the acid level of the stomach is reduced for a short period of time. Before the discovery of Helicobacter pylori, it was felt that high acid levels in the stomach were the cause of damage to the stomach wall that occurred with ulcers.

Fermenting milk with bacteria, such as occurs when yogurt or kefir is produced, produces many biologically active compounds that may be beneficial to health. Many of the bacteria in yogurt and kefir are termed lactic acid bacteria because, when they are put in milk, they produce lactic acid. Recent findings from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada seem to show that fermented milk contains something - perhaps lactic acid - that is effective in killing Helicobacter pylori. Lactic acid is only one of many possible candidates. During fermentation, milk proteins are broken down and bio-active peptides (chains of amino acids found in protein) can be formed. Whatever is causing the effects, it is only found in milk fermented with a specific bacteria which is unfortunately not a bacteria that is currently found in yogurt.

Chemical structure of lactic acid
l-lactic acidr-lactic acid