The yogurt mamas

Every morning, 56-year-old ­Elizabeth Gabeal from Tanzania goes to work in a small community kitchen in her village in the Mwanza region. The kitchen is known as Jiko la Maziwa Imara, Swahili for “the kitchen for healthy milk.” Here, she makes yogurt that she sells to friends and family. In Tanzania, yogurt “mamas” like Gabeal are a phenomenon. 
 

After all, the yogurt they make is rich in nutrients and ­beneficial ­bacteria, or probiotics. ­In ­Tanzania, this is invaluable, particularly for the estimated 800,000 people ­infected with the HIV virus. Not only can probiotics reduce ­intestinal problems for those with AIDS, they also reduce the chance of new infections. 
 

“HIV-related diarrhea is gone within two days,” according to Gregor Reid, a Canadian doctor who studies lactic acid bacteria and has published in The Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, among other ­publications. HIV sufferers who take probiotics see a ­stabilization in their T-cell count—the white blood cells that play an important role in the immune system—which slows the ­development of AIDS. “In addition, we see that patients who eat the yogurt feel better, gain weight and get rid of their rashes,” Reid says. Probiotics are bacteria that promote health. They are present in our intestines and on our skin, but we also ingest them through foods like sauerkraut. The bacteria are also present in commercial yogurt drinks like Activia and Yakult as well as supplements. Probiotics take up space in the intestines, thereby preventing harmful bacteria from attaching themselves to intestinal walls. They reduce the incidence of diarrhea. They also help prevent diarrhea resulting from the use of antibiotics. 
 

For Tanzanians, there is another reason to eat Gabeal’s yogurt. It helps reduce the chance of spreading HIV among healthy people. Probiotics can travel via the intestines to the vagina, where they decrease the incidence of vaginal infections that present a risk for the transfer of the HIV virus.

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The yogurt mamas

Every morning, 56-year-old ­Elizabeth Gabeal from Tanzania goes to work in a small community kitchen in her village in the Mwanza region. The kitchen is known as Jiko la Maziwa Imara, Swahili for “the kitchen for healthy milk.” Here, she makes yogurt that she sells to friends and family. In Tanzania, yogurt “mamas” like Gabeal are a phenomenon. 
 

After all, the yogurt they make is rich in nutrients and ­beneficial ­bacteria, or probiotics. ­In ­Tanzania, this is invaluable, particularly for the estimated 800,000 people ­infected with the HIV virus. Not only can probiotics reduce ­intestinal problems for those with AIDS, they also reduce the chance of new infections. 
 

“HIV-related diarrhea is gone within two days,” according to Gregor Reid, a Canadian doctor who studies lactic acid bacteria and has published in The Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, among other ­publications. HIV sufferers who take probiotics see a ­stabilization in their T-cell count—the white blood cells that play an important role in the immune system—which slows the ­development of AIDS. “In addition, we see that patients who eat the yogurt feel better, gain weight and get rid of their rashes,” Reid says. Probiotics are bacteria that promote health. They are present in our intestines and on our skin, but we also ingest them through foods like sauerkraut. The bacteria are also present in commercial yogurt drinks like Activia and Yakult as well as supplements. Probiotics take up space in the intestines, thereby preventing harmful bacteria from attaching themselves to intestinal walls. They reduce the incidence of diarrhea. They also help prevent diarrhea resulting from the use of antibiotics. 
 

For Tanzanians, there is another reason to eat Gabeal’s yogurt. It helps reduce the chance of spreading HIV among healthy people. Probiotics can travel via the intestines to the vagina, where they decrease the incidence of vaginal infections that present a risk for the transfer of the HIV virus.

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