- A bacteria used in the fermentation of Emmental cheese found to be beneficial
- It decreases inflammation and boosts the immune system, say Seoul researchers
- Found in other dairy products, such as milk, it can also improve signs of ageing
- It’s this ‘good’ bacteria, called P. freudenreichii, which gives Swiss cheese holes
Cheese is a guilty pleasure for many of us, but it now seems we don’t have to feel regretful for enjoying it – as long as it’s Swiss.
Scientists have found a link between a probiotic found in the tasty treat and longevity.
They found that the bacteria – used in the fermentation of Emmental cheese – decreases inflammation and boosts the immune system.
Also found in other dairy products, such as milk, it can also improve signs of ageing, according to researchers at Korea University in Seoul.
There is one caveat with the study, which was published in the journal Scientific Reports – it was carried out on roundworms.
But the authors state: ‘It is possible that the mechanisms identified in this study may apply to other species including humans.’
A probiotic in Swiss cheese has been found to boosts the immune system and longevity in roundworms – which scientists say may apply to humans too (file photo)
Emmentaler contains the bacterium Propionibacterium freudenreichii which was found to make the worms live longer.
The team explain that it turns lactate – the compound which makes muscles burn – into three substances – acetate, propionate and carbon dioxide.
Acetate and propionate have been shown to enhance human gut immunity in studies, they say.
Furthermore, particular lactic acid bacteria, such as Weissella koreensis and W. cibaria, extend the lifespan of roundworms and ‘improve biomarkers of ageing’.
The team concludes that the probiotic extends the lifespan by dampening down the body’s stress response, and triggering an anti-inflammatory effect on the immune system.
Why does Swiss cheese have holes in?
P. freudenreichii is responsible for the fermentation process that produces Emmental’s unique flavours, as well as the formation of holes (known as eyes).
According to Culture magazine, flavour intensity and eye size are inter-related: the larger the eyes, the stronger the taste of the cheese.
Once in the vat, the bacteria, consume lactic acid and release bubbles of carbon dioxide gas.
These air bubbles become trapped in the rind of the cheese and gradually form eyes.
Cheesemakers can control the size of the holes by changing the temperature.
HOW COMPOUND IN CHEESE CAN BOOST YOUR HEARING
It might sound crackers – but cheese could hold the secret to better hearing.
Scientists believe that it contains a chemical compound that could prevent or cure deafness caused by exposure to loud noise.
In animals, D-methionine has been found to help protect against – and even reverse – damage to nerve cells in the ear.
Now it is to be tested on 600 human volunteers, taken from the US army.
The study will find out if the compound, which is also found in yogurt, protects the soldiers from permanent hearing damage caused by the noise of gunfire.
Exposure to loud sounds can damage hair-like nerve cells in the cochlea, a spiral-shaped part of the inner ear which helps send sound signals to the brain.
One theory is that the noise triggers the release of damaging chemicals called free radicals, which can be neutralised by D-methionine, an amino acid.
Other research has shown that the chemical can even reverse hearing loss if given within seven hours of exposure to loud noise. No drugs are currently available that can achieve the same effect.