‘Level 1’ evidence that probiotics boost ‘transit time’: Danisco & Fonterra

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Swallow... then start the stop watch
Swallow... then start the stop watch
Daily probiotic supplements may accelerate transit time and boost general gut health, says a new study from Danisco and Fonterra heralded as providing ‘Level I evidence’.

Data from a study with 100 people indicated that daily supplements of Bifidobacterium lactis​ HN019 reduced whole gut transit time in healthy individuals by up to 33 percent.

Writing in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology​, researchers state that a lowering of transit time over the long-term could potential produce meaningful reductions in the risk of associated colorectal conditions, including colon cancer.

Furthermore, the benefits were “at least equivalent to that of dietary fiber”​, report researchers from Accurate Clinical Research (Houston), Fonterra Research Centre, Danisco, and Sprim Advanced Life Sciences.

“This randomized, triple-blind, placebo controlled, dose-ranging study provides Level I evidence that dietary consumption of B. lactis HN019 shortens whole gut transit time in a dose-dependent manner and reduces the frequency of functional gastrointestinal symptoms in adults,” ​wrote the researchers, led by Sprim’s Larry Miller, PhD.

Level 1 evidence refers to the top level in evidence-based medicine, meaning it provides evidence from a properly designed randomized controlled trial.

Transit time is amongst the accepted measures outlined in the guidelines for digestive health claims from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)​. Other appropriate measures include frequency of bowel movements and stool bulk.

Study details

The researchers recruited 100 healthy people with an average age of 44 and randomly assigned them to receive high or low daily doses of B. lactis HN019, or placebo for 14 days. High dose was defined as 17.2 billion colony forming units (CFU), while the low dose was 1.8 billion CFU.

At the end of the study results showed an improvement in transit time in the high dose group of 33 percent, and 25 percent in the low dose group. There was no change in the placebo group, added the researchers.

Symptoms of gastrointestinal function, including nausea, vomiting, regurgitation, abdominal pain, flatulence, constipation, and diarrhea, improved in both the high and low dose probiotic groups. Improvements in constipation and diarrhea were recorded in the placebo group.

"Gastrointestinal disorders are both common and complex. The results of this study will help us to validate the roles and benefits of consuming probiotics in patients with mild gastrointestinal disorders,”​ said Dr. Pramod Gopal, principal research scientist, Digestive and Immune Health, Fonterra Research Centre.

The researchers said that several potential mechanisms may explain the effects, including increasing fecal bacterial mass, stimulation of cholecytokinin (a hormone responsible for fat and protein digestion), and breakdown of bile salts to stimulate colonic motility and excretion.

Source: Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology
Published online ahead of print, doi:10.3109/00365521.2011.584895
“Dose-response effect of Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 on whole gut transit time and functional gastrointestinal symptoms in adults”
Authors: P.A. Waller, P.K. Gopal, G.J. Leyer, A.C. Ouwehand, C. Reifer, M.E. Stewart, L.E. Miller

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