Swift shift: Probiotic fortification of fermented dairy products rapidly influences gut bacteria

Swift shift: Probiotic fortification of fermented dairy products rapidly influences gut bacteria

08 Mar 2019 --- Consuming fermented dairy products (FDP) fortified with probiotic microbes can cause rapid positive changes in the gut microbiome, according to research endorsed by PepsiCo R&D Inc. and Knomics LLC, a microbiome research company based in Moscow, Russia. The findings suggest that a single month of FDP consumption can significantly shift microbial composition and function, which may benefit overall health. 

The research may prove useful for the field of personalized nutrition as well. However, the authors note that further research is warranted to confirm any potential lasting impact on microbiota.

“Although the study included only healthy volunteers, it is another piece of evidence supporting that food products fortified with probiotics improve the balance of the gut microbiome and microbiome-mediated effects on human health including digestion and other systems,” co-author of the study Alexander Tyakht, Ph.D., tells NutritionInsight

The study included 150 healthy volunteers, who consumed 125ml of a yogurt fortified with Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB12 (a patented strain from supplier Chr. Hansen) twice a day, for a month. The participants’ gut microbiome was assessed on the first day of the study, 15 days into the study and on the last day. The researchers conducted clinical status assessments, anthropometric measurements, thermometry and physiological assessments to monitor changes in the gut microbiota. Stool samples were collected before the dietary intervention and immediately afterward. 

Click to EnlargeAdditionally, 16S rRNA gene sequencing was used to assess the gut microbial composition before and after FDP consumption in healthy adults. 

What the analysis found
A comparison of the gut microbial content showed an increase in the presence of potentially beneficial bacteria, particularly of the Bifidobacterium genus, as well as Adlercreutzia equolifaciens and Slackia isoflavoniconvertens

According to the researchers, incorporating FDP fortified with probiotics into our diet and promoting “good gut bacteria” results in a positive impact on biomarkers commonly associated with inflammatory, hormonal and cardiovascular function.

“We were quite surprised to see that the bifidobacteria increased in abundance after the intervention, including not just the probiotic species from the product, but also their indigenous species from the gut. Interestingly, we also discovered an increase of other gut microbes potentially beneficial to human health,” says Tyakht.

At a functional level, the findings showed an increased ability to metabolize lactose and synthesize amino acids, combined with decreased potential of synthesizing lipopolysaccharides. Additionally, cluster analysis revealed that the participants were divided into two groups depending on their baseline microbial community structure. One group showed higher increase in beneficial gut bacteria than the other. 

The researchers note, therefore, that the impact of FDP in the gut varies among different people. 

“Our results show that this could be related to the variability of responses to the diet: the microbiome of some participants changed to a greater extent than the others. So, some were responding better than others. While one can measure the response in different ways, we found that we could predict whether a person is a responder or not based solely on their initial microbiome composition,” Tyakht mentions. 

“Our results contribute to the development of personalized nutrition schemes: one can compile an individual diet taking into account the predicted individual response to specific probiotics, prebiotics – dietary fibers – or food products,” he notes.

Going forward
The researchers are planning more research to explore the effects of prebiotics and probiotics in gut bacteria. “We are designing and conducting clinical studies investigating the effects of prebiotic and probiotic consumption on human gut microbiome and health,” Tyakht says. “This will help to collect more evidence about the specific benefits of distinct dietary fibers and food microbes for individuals and make personalized nutrition more effective.”

The boundless opportunities of the microbiome and the power of prebiotics and probiotics have given rise to intense focus from researchers, investors and companies working in both the nutraceutical and pharmaceutical space. However, what is becoming clear is the importance that claims stay rooted in science and not consumer hype. This is according to Stephen O’Hara, OptiBiotix CEO, who has spoken to NutritionInsight on the emerging research on prebiotics and probiotics and the rising role they will have in the food and nutraceuticals industry in 2019.

By Kristiana Lalou

To contact our editorial team please email us at editorial@cnsmedia.com


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