3 probiotics studies show benefits beyond digestive health

Probiotic sales are up in the double digits. A trio of new research studies out this week demonstrates that consumers are on the right track. 

Three new studies out this week show that probiotics are effective in maintaining health from the top to the bottom of the digestive system, with benefits beyond traditional digestive complaints.

These studies lend credibility to consumer expectations, as recent data from SPINS shows digestive health product sales are up 14.4 percent in natural retail channels and up 18.5 percent in conventional food/drug/mass markets over the last year in the 52 weeks ending June 9.

In addition, sales of immune-health products are up 7.3 percent in natural stores and 6.6 percent in conventional outlets, according to the same SPINS data.

Related: More probiotics sales and trends in the Ingredient Market Forecast 

Products directed specifically at colds and flu are up only 1.2 percent in naturals and 3.2 percent in conventional channels.

SPINS data reveals sales of probiotics specifically are up a whopping 43 percent in mass markets and 13.7 percent in natural channels.

Study #1 result: Frequent stools in infants

In a study published Aug. 28 in Nutrition Journal, researchers reviewed four probiotic and four prebiotic studies totaling 338 patients, which were pre-term infants. The researchers were looking for effects on nectoziging enterocolitis, which is the death of intestinal tissue that often affects preterm or sick babies, as well as the potentially deadly sepsis infection, and diarrhea.

The only noted effect of the probiotics and prebiotics were on the frequency of stools. One study showed an increase from an average of 1.2 to 2 stools per day due to probiotics, while two prebiotic studies showed stool frequency significantly increased from 0.48 to 1.1 per day.

Study #2 result: Better breath

In another study, published Aug. 29 in Archives of Oral Biology, a novel probiotic strain called BLIS K12 found benefits on the top end of the digestive system: the mouth. In this lab study, the antimicrobial activity of BLIS K12, supplied by Stratum Nutrition of Novus International, inhibited bacteria responsible for bad breath.

“This research paper represents further evidence that the BLIS K12 probiotic plays an important role in maintaining good oral health by protecting the mouth against invading pathogens,” said Dr. Barry Richardson, CEO of BLIS Technologies. “We believe that the data in this model strongly points to beneficial effect in the human oral cavity and we expect further human studies to confirm this effect.”

Study #3 result: Cold duration shortened

In a third study, announced Aug. 30 and to be unveiled at a Hong Kong conference Sept. 6, the Howaru Protect strain, supplied by DuPont Danisco, led to a significant reduction in the number of days adults in Australia experienced common cold- and flu-associated symptoms, a strong trend in the reduction of cold and flu medication use, and a trend toward the reduction rate of chest illness symptom episodes.

The study recruited 263 healthy, physically active adults who received either Howaru Protect or placebo for 150 days. It builds on a 2009 study with similar results on the same probiotic strain only in children ages 3- to 5-years-old.

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