The impact of gut infections is high and even in affluent societies the annual incidence is about 10% of the population. Because of the growing resistance of bacterial pathogens to antibiotics, the focus is shifting from treatment to primary prevention. “That is why we tested the effect of various food ingredients in our gut challenge models (ETEC, Helicobacter, Listeria, Salmonella),” says Dr. Ingeborg Bovee.
In our research models, dietary calcium significantly inhibited the survival of Salmonella in the gut. Moreover, in a human intervention trial, we have shown that dietary calcium protected against a modified E. coli vaccine by decreasing infection-induced diarrhoea. Building on these results, a 6 month calcium intervention is now being performed in large cohorts of Indonesian children suffering from frequent intestinal infections. “From in vitro to in vivo studies, we are getting very promising results proving that calcium protects against gut infections,” concludes Bovee.