Colored scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of Escherichia coli bacteria (green) taken from the small intestine of a child. E. coli are rod-shaped bacteria that are part of the normal flora of the human gut.
Stephanie Schuller/Science Source
It's not just kombucha and yogurt: Probiotics are now showing up in dozens of packaged foods. But what exactly do these designer foods with friendly flora actually offer — besides a high price tag?
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Scientists have documented that beneficial microorganisms play a critical role in how our bodies function. And it's becoming clear that the influence goes beyond the gut — researchers are turning their attention to our emotional health.
Biologist Rob Knight, co-founder of the American Gut Project, recently moved the project to the University of California, San Diego's School of Medicine.
Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado