Bifidobacterium has been described in over 300 scientific publications and more than 100 clinical studies. It has been tested in clinical trials including subjects from preterm infants to elderly. The results have proven its beneficial health effect both within gastrointestinal health and immune function. This blog will focus on three key benefits that can be associated with Bifidobacterium.
1. The Effect of Bifidobacterium on Undesirable Bacteria
As we know from our previous blog on Lactobacillus Casei, the human large intestine is host to a wide variety of bacteria. During old age, bifidobacteria and lactobacilli begin to decline in number, coinciding with a increase in other bacterial groups, including clostridia and members of the Enterobacteriaceae family, which are believed to have adverse effects on gastrointestinal health. Probiotics that are capable of controlling the increase of undesirable bacteria and increasing the levels of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli in the colon, are considered beneficial. Several clinical studies have shown that Bifidobacterium, alone or in combination with other probiotics or ingredients, is associated with an increase in beneficial bacteria and a reduction in potentially pathogenic bacteria.
A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled dose-response study investigated the impact of a four- week consumption of Bifidobacterium, on fecal bacterial counts in 58 healthy adults (Savard et al. 2011). Results showed significant increases in bifidobacteria counts in the active groups compared to baseline. Numbers of viable fecal lactobacilli were significantly higher and those of enterococci (negative bacteria) were significantly lower after the intervention when compared to placebo.
2. Gastrointestinal Function
Regular bowel movements, natural transit time and normal stool consistency are part of a well-functioning bowel. However, the boundaries for normal bowel function are wide and vary to a large extent from person to person. Normal movement of the bowel is five to 14 times a week, with outer boundaries of three to 21 times a week. A frequency higher or lower is considered diarrhea or constipation, respectively. The passage time for food through the gastrointestinal tract is normally within half a day to three days. Lazy tummy or constipation is a widely experienced challenge, especially in the elderly population. Probiotics may support the bowel function in a beneficial way by increasing bowel movement or transit time, or by softening of the stools.