An emerging body of scientific research about probiotics was presented today at the academic conference, "Protective Nutrients, Are They Here To Stay?" an annual Harvard Medical School Division of Nutrition Annual Postgraduate Nutrition Symposium. Every year, cutting-edge topics are selected to provide education about emerging topics in nutrition to key opinion leaders and healthcare providers, and this year probiotics took center stage.
The symposium brought together world-class researchers to discuss the interactions between diet and protective nutrients, such as probiotics, and to describe the mechanisms at work behind their specific health benefits. Probiotics are defined by FAO/WHO as "live microorganisms, which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host."
Dr. W. Allan Walker, Director of the Division of Nutrition at Harvard Medical School, opened the day and a half symposium taking a look into the scientific and academic journal standard for protective nutrients. Mary Ellen Sanders, Ph.D., Executive Director of the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP), provided an overview about probiotics highlighting that specific strains of probiotics function uniquely in different conditions since (collectively speaking) they are a diverse group of microorganisms. "A probiotic must undergo controlled evaluation to document health benefits in humans," she said. The ISAPP recently clarified the FAO/WHO definition, including this detail.
Philip Sherman, M.D., FRCP(C), FAAP, Gastroenterologist and Senior Scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and Professor of Paediatrics in the Department of Microbiology and Dentistry at the University of Toronto, who moderated the session, discussed the precise mechanisms of action by which probiotics function. "Some probiotics affect integrity of the epithelial barrier, while others impact different aspects of immune function," said Sherman.
Consuming certain specific probiotics, like those in cultured dairy products, can help strengthen the body's natural defenses by providing a regular source of "friendly" bacteria to the intestinal tract. This helps to correct any imbalance of beneficial to "bad" bacteria. Also, since about 70 percent of the human immune system is located in the digestive tract, certain probiotics have been found to help to optimize the function of the immune system as well as various functions of the intestinal lining.
Additional experts on the program included Stefano Guandalini, M.D. (Director of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center), Martin Floch, M.D. (Clinical Professor of Medicine at Yale School of Medicine), and Eamonn Quigley, M.D. (Professor of Medicine and Human Physiology at Cork University Hospital). They shared their extensive knowledge and the latest research about probiotics in children, adults, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, respectively, as well as their insights about current preventive practices, treatments, and health promoting approaches.
Specific strains of probiotics have been clinically shown to be effective in the prevention and treatment of certain gastrointestinal disorders, respiratory infections, and allergic conditions. This educational program provided scientific evidence to health professionals who are increasingly recommending them to patients.
As new research has emerged demonstrating an increasingly wide range of uses for probiotics to benefit human health, probiotic foods and supplements continue to grow in usage and awareness in the US market and are expected to continue to expand.
The conference was made possible in part by an unrestricted educational grant provided by The Dannon Company, Inc. and Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd.
For more information about probiotics, visit www.usprobiotics.org.
A Web cast of the symposium will be made available at http://nutrition.med.harvard.edu/webcast.html
Dannon and Yakult Continue to Advocate and Lead Probiotic Research and Education
In March 2004, Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd., the parent company of Yakult U.S.A., Inc. and Danone, the parent company of The Dannon Company, jointly established the Global Probiotics Council. The role of the GPC is to promote and advance probiotics in the world by raising public awareness through education, communicating the latest knowledge to relevant interest groups, and supporting collaborative research in the areas of probiotics and intestinal microbiota.
The Dannon Company is America's founding national yogurt company and continually leverages its expertise to develop and market innovative cultured fresh dairy products in the United States. Headquartered in White Plains, NY, Dannon has plants in Minster, OH, Fort Worth, TX, and West Jordan, UT. The company produces and sells approximately 100 different types of flavors, styles and sizes of cultured fresh dairy products. Dannon is owned by Danone, one of the world's leading producers of packaged foods and beverages, and Dannon is the top-selling brand of yogurt products worldwide, sold under the names Dannon and Danone. With a strong commitment to high-quality, wholesome, nutritious and innovative products, The Dannon Company is committed to encouraging healthy eating and living. This commitment is also illustrated through The Dannon Company's support of the Dannon Institute, an independent, non-profit foundation dedicated to promoting research, education, and communication about the links between nutrition, diet and health. For more information, please visit www.dannon.com. For more information about probiotics, visit www.probioticscenter.com.
Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd., headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, is the world's pioneer in probiotics by introducing the first single shot probiotics drink, Yakult(R), in 1935. Founded by microbiologist Dr. Minoru Shirota, Yakult(R) contains high amounts of its signature strain, Lactobacillus casei Shirota. Yakult is committed to researching the endless applications for probiotics and the use of intestinal bacteria in human health around the world. The company has established two science institutes to support its efforts; one in Japan (Yakult Central Institute for Microbiological Research) and one in Europe (Yakult Honsha European Research Center for Microbiology ESV). Since developing its overseas network in 1964, Yakult has expanded its business to 32 countries and territories. In addition to producing the internationally recognized probiotic beverage, Yakult is also accredited in the pharmaceutical field for its development of Campto Injection (Camptosar), the first-line drug for colorectal cancer in the U.S. Yakult U.S.A. Inc., the subsidiary of Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd., is stationed in Torrance, CA. For more information, please visit www.yakult.co.jp/english, www.yakult.co.jp/institute, www.yakultusa.com.