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New technology reveals impact of probiotics in fermented milk product on gut microbiota

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Scientists have used a novel high-resolution bioinformatics tool to demonstrate the effect of a probiotic-containing fermented milk product on human gut microbiota.
The researchers, from National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA; Paris, France) and Danone Nutricia Research (Utrecht, The Netherlands), demonstrated that the product affected specific gut bacteria without significant alterations to the composition of the microbial community in the human gut. The findings were recently published online in Scientific Reports.Fermented foods, especially yoghurts, contain a large amount of live bacteria. While human consumption of these products dates back over 12,000 years, we have a limited understanding of their interaction with the communities of bacteria within the body.

The European Metagenomics of the Human Intestinal Tract consortium coordinated by INRA, has made major progress in expanding the scientific knowledge of the role of bacteria in fermented products, and their research has resulted in the discovery of several previously unknown species of prokaryote.

Building on the work done by Metagenomics of the Human Intestinal Tract consortium, teams from INRA and Danone Nutricia Research have succeeded in the first accurate analysis of the effect of the consumption of a probiotic-containing fermented milk product on native gut bacteria. The study recorded the effect of a specific probiotic product on individuals with irritable bowel syndrome, a condition that Dusko Ehrlich from INRA suggests affects “20% of the population in industrialized countries.”

Researchers working on the study observed that the abundance of bacteria naturally producing butyrate increased upon consumption of a probiotic-containing fermented milk product, while the general composition of the gut microflora remained unchained.

Butyrate has been demonstrated to have benefits for digestive health and previous studies have indicated a decrease in butyrate-producing bacteria in individuals afflicted with irritable bowel syndrome. Scientists also observed a correlating decrease in Bilophilia wadsworthia populations, a bacterium thought to be involved in the development of intestinal disease.

This pilot study, although only consisting of 28 individuals, is intended to act as a stepping stone towards further relevant, reliable scientific conclusions surrounding health and probiotic-containing products. It also demonstrates the potential for the use of new technology to study gut microbiota and their interactions with the food we consume. “From now on we will have a much more detailed view of the dynamics of this ecosystem,” commented Ehrlich.

Source: Impact on gut microbiota of a fermented milk product containing probiotics revealed by new technology; Veiga P, Pons N, Agrawal A. Changes of the human gut microbiome induced by a fermented milk product. Scientific Reports. 4, 6328 (2014).

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