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Probiotics’ journey revealed

fluorescent probiotics
Researchers have combined nifty scientific techniques to track bugs through the intestines, shedding light on how long probiotics stay in the body.

Probiotics are super-hot ingredients, with research piling up backing benefits that range from fighting boogers to lowering blood pressure. However, researchers haven’t really been able to figure out how long they do their healthy thing in our bodies. Until now.

Swedish scientists have unveiled a novel method to track the bugs as they make their way through the gut. Tiny GoPros for microbes? Not quite, but it’s still pretty cool.

The researchers studied a well-known probiotic strain called L. reuteri in mice. They used a technique known as in vivo molecular imaging. Similar to magnetic resonance imaging, this process places a critter (or person) into a chamber, but unlike an MRI, which uses magnetic rays and radio fields, in vivo molecular imaging uses no emissions. Instead, it picks up a dark outline of the subject with bright spots visible on the inside, according to a post about the research on PopularScience.

The researchers created a version of L. reuteri that glowed red, thanks to a protein from a bug. The mice ate the microbes, and the path of the probiotics was tracked with in vivo molecular imaging over three hours.

The research, published in the journal PLOS One, reveals a new way to track probiotics in the body and will hopefully lead to a better understanding of how long the microbes stay inside our guts and how long we might expect their benefits to last.

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