A commercially-available prebiotic supplement significantly increased levels of bifidobacteria in humans in just a week, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Reading, England.
Fifty-nine healthy human volunteers (34 female, 25 male) participated in the double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled crossover study, which assessed the prebiotic effect of Bimuno, a novel galacto-oligosaccharide produced from lactose. Its performance was compared with a vivinal galacto-oligosaccaride produced through the action of an industrial â-galactosidase enzyme, and a placebo, sucrose.
The results showed that Bimuno, which is marketed by Clasado, significantly increased bifidobacteria in the human gut within seven days compared with both the placebo and the alternative prebiotic supplement.
"These results are very exciting because they show that bifidobacteria seem to have a high affinity towards this prebiotic," said Glenn Gibson, PhD, head of food microbial sciences at the University of Reading. "Interestingly, the large gut where these bacteria are found controls around 70% of the body's natural immune function, which helps protect against illness. Bifidobacteria play a key role in the gut's digestive and immune functions and now we have human evidence that prebiotics like galacto-oligosaccaride directly stimulate these health enhancing bacteria."
Experts say bifidobacteria are the most important types of positive bacteria in the gut as they specifically stimulate the immune system, increase resistance to infection and diarrhoeal disease, reduce markers of chronic gut problems and enhance overall gut health.
Liz Tucker, a health and wellbeing consultant, added: "When considering increasing your good bacteria with a supplement, it is important to target the right bacteria as some bacteria have wider health benefits than others. The new data shows that unlike many prebiotics or indeed probiotics, Bimuno is non-digestible, gets to where it is needed in the gut — intact — and is designed to specifically target the best of the good bacteria, bifidobacteria."