Probiotic-Prebiotic formulation could improve well-being

Posted by Editorial on 22nd January 2009

A new study could present food manufacturers companies around the world with a way to cater to an ageing population and increased interest in health and wellbeing products.

A team of researchers at Danisco have produced promising results in a study of the potential synbiotic effect of dietary supplementation with a probiotic culture and prebiotic lactitol in healthy seniors. Published in the British Journal of Nutrition, the study found the probiotic-prebiotic combination increased the level of beneficial gut bacteria, improved immune and mucosal function and gave moderately enhanced bowel movements with no side effects.

Double-blind trial
A total of 51 elderly Finnish subjects over 65 years of age, all healthy and all regular users of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), took part in the double-blind parallel trial. Each consumed two sachets of the dietary supplement or a placebo every day for two weeks.

“Reduced bowel and immune function are common problems in seniors. Use of NSAID may also affect their intestinal health, for example by damaging the mucosa in the gastrointestinal tract,” Dr Arthur Ouwehand, leader of the research team at Danisco’s nutrition centre in Finland, said. “Our aim was to modify the intestinal microbiota and improve bowel function using a potential synbiotic.”

Active ingredients
The probiotic culture used for the study was Danisco’s L. acidophilus NCFM, which was chosen for its reported ability to improve intestinal microbiota metabolism, gut health and associated immune function. Danisco lactitol, a prebiotic disaccharide polyol derived from lactose, was selected due to its ability to increase faecal bifidobacteria levels and bowel movements and to support the growth of L. acidophilus NCFM, the company suggested.

All these parameters were seen to improve following supplementation, although there was no conclusive evidence that the effect was synbiotic rather than additive.

‘Feel good’ effect
“While not specifically investigated, it was interesting that a number of subjects from the synbiotic group enquired whether and where the product could be purchased as it made them ‘feel good’,” Dr Ouwehand remarked.

Further clinical studies of the individual effects of the probiotic and prebiotic are required to establish the existence of a real synbiotic benefit when the two are used in combination, the researchers concluded.