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Before I start talking about Bifidobacterium animalis, I have to ask: Are people allowed to say anything unfavorable about a product without getting sued? Seriously. This country appears to favor companies over individuals, and if you’ve got the money (companies), you can sue whoever (individuals) you want right into the ground. Cynical? Yep. Scarily true? You betcha.

Of course, I’d also like to point out that we have been granted the freedom of speech through the Bill of Rights. (See Amendment I for a refresher on this right.)

That said, I’m going to be a bit circuitous in what follows and hope you can read between the lines.

Because I’ve suffered many yeast infections over the years, I am a regular consumer of yogurt. About two decades ago I became familiar with the various forms of “good” bacteria that should inhabit the intestines in order to make them function properly. Taking antibiotics wipes out these bacteria and can lead to yeast infections. Basically, I knew about Lactobacillus acidophilis and Bifidus long before doctors recommended eating yogurt following a course of antibiotics, certainly long before strains of these “good” bacteria were purposely added to food.

I recently decided to give a particular brand of yogurt a try, one that promises better digestion because of the special bacteria included within. The yogurt has a good flavor and smooth texture, however, I was left with rumbling intestines every day I ate it. As soon as I stopped eating it, the rumbling went away.

I got curious as to the special bacteria in this yogurt, having never heard of this particular strain before. When I looked at the yogurt label, I saw a trademark symbol next to the name of the bacterium. A little research turned up an interesting fact. This bacterium is actually a subspecies of Bifidobacterium animalis and there are companies attempting to trademark various subspecies for marketing purposes.

It’s not surprising that any food-related company would enhance its products in this way. After all, we’ve had food fortified with vitamins for a long time. (If you think we should stop messing with our food, are you willing to stop cooking it? Food is not in its natural state when it’s cooked. Just sayin’.) What’s more important is to pay attention to exactly how particular products are enhanced and do some research on ingredients you don’t recognize.  When trying something new, watch for how the new food affects you. No matter what the marketing promises, you may be that rare person who has an unfavorable reaction.

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