The data, published on the Scientific Reports website earlier this week, “challenges the view that microbes ingested with food have little impact on the human gut microbiota functioning."
Instead, probiotics such as Bifidobacterium lactis provide “support for beneficial health effects,” the study, Changes of the human gut microbiome induced by a fermented milk product, said.
A 28-strong cohort, all suffering Irritable Bowel Syndrome with constipation (IBS-C), were asked to consume a fermented milk product (FMP) or an acidified milk product over a period of four weeks.
In subjects administered with the FMP, which contained Bifidobacterium lactis, Streptococcus thermophiles, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, and Lactococcus lactis, researchers from Danone Nutricia Research and INRA observed an increase in the abundance of bacteria producing butyrate, which is known for its beneficial effect on gut health.
Previous studies have shown a decrease in butyrate producing bacteria in those that suffer from IBS.
The global composition of the microbial community in the subjects fed FMP meanwhile did not change.
“The consumption of the FMP improved the IBS condition of the subjects compared to the control group,” said the study.
The result, the research team claimed, "shed lights" on the potential of the contained probiotics to stimulate the creation of beneficial metabolites and decrease the abundance of disease-causing pathobionts.
“These modifications can potentially improve health and are thus of importance for public health recommendations in Western countries," said the study.
“It indicates the role of food-ingested bacteria in gut homeostasis has been under-estimated, possibly because of methodological limitations that can, today, be overcome. Elucidation of the intricate links between food ingested microbes and human symbionts can thus be addressed.”
Commenting on the results of the study, Dusko Ehrlich, who led the research at INRA, said: “Up until now, it was impossible to study the impact of probiotics on gut microbiota at a bacterial species level; from now on we will have a much more detailed view of the dynamic of this ecosystems.”
Source: Scientific Reports doi:10.1038/srep06328
Title: Changes of the human gut microbiome induced by a fermented milk product
Authors: P Veiga, N Pons, A Agrawal, R Oozeer, D Guyonnet, R Brazeilles, JM Faurie, J van Hylckama Vlieg, L Houghton, P Whorwell, D Ehrlich, S Kennedy.