Yakult’s synbiotic drink improves bowel movement and alters short-term gut microbiota in elderly Korean women
MPR03 is only available in South Korea, and comes in a single serve bottled product containing the liquid (prebiotic fibres, flavobiotics) and capsules (probiotics).
The probiotics are encapsulated to ensure shelf-life stability. Participants unscrew the cap and release the probiotics into the rest of the beverage before drinking.
In this study, it was found that intake of MPR03 increased defecation frequency as well as the ideal standard for stool (Bristol stool form scale - BSFS 4).
The findings were published in the journal Nutrients.
A total of 37 healthy post-menopausal women above 50 years were recruited in South Korea.
Participants were tasked to refrain from consuming other probiotics, fermented products and supplements that affected body fat metabolism and intestinal health.
Designed as a longitudinal pilot study, the study included a three-week baseline period where participants maintained normal dietary habits, followed by a three-week experimental period consuming the synbiotic drink, and ending with a three-week washout period without synbiotic intake.
The synbiotic was taken after meals to minimise the breakdown of probiotics by gastric acid. The MPR03 product contains 5.0 × 109 CFU Bifidobacterium animalis spp. lactis HY8002, 2.5 × 109 CFU Lactobacillus casei HY2782, and 2.5 × 109 CFU L. plantarum HY7712 of probiotics (capsule).
The beverage (liquid) contained 9800 mg of dietary fiber (polydextrose, chicory dietary fiber, and wheat dietary fiber), 3160 mg of fructo-oligosaccharides, 500 mg of xylo-oligosaccharides, and 350 mg of isomalto-oligosaccharide.
Blood, urine, and faecal samples were then collected.
In studying faecal samples, researchers found that the average defecation frequency increased from 6.16 to 6.35 times per week.
The proportion of women with a BSFS 4 (sausage) form of faeces increased from 43% to 68% but then returned to 30% at the washout timepoint. Type four stool is the ideal standard.
It was interesting to find out through blood measurements, glucose levels were also significantly decreased by 6% after three weeks of synbiotic drink ingestion (p=0.005).
In terms of the intestinal microbial community, proportions of Actinobacteria and Bacteroidetes were significantly higher than those measured at baseline (9.0% vs. 7.8% and 8.5% vs. 5.3%, respectively; p = 0.026).
However the washout period, changes to the gut microflora reverted back to baseline.
At the genus level, the relative abundance of Bifidobacterium was significantly increased after the intervention (8.4%) compared to that at baseline (5.3%) and decreased again after washout (6.9%, p = 0.017).
Faecalibacterium and Fusicatenibacter also increased after the intervention (13.8%, p = 0.009; 5.1%, p = 0.039) compared to the baseline values (11.1% and 3.7%, respectively), and decreased again after washout (9.2% and 4.1%, respectively; p = 0.014).
These bacteria help promote a healthy immune system, and defend against infections.
In contrast, Blautia and Eubacterium_g5 decreased after the intervention (19.3% and 2.9%, respectively) compared to the baseline levels (25.1% and 3.9%) and significantly increased again after washout (23.7%, p = 0.005; 3.3%, p = 0.008).
Blautia has been linked to increased visceral fat and obesity in previous studies.
The limitations of this study were its relatively small number of participants and lack of separate control groups.
The findings suggest that a short term (three weeks) intake of Yakult’s synbiotic drink improved participants’ satisfaction with their stool shape, bowel activity, and bowel health improvement.
“Synbiotics can be a preventive food supplement for chronic diseases that affect healthy older people. Further research is needed to target specific microbial and blood indicators to investigate the combined effects of synbiotics, probiotics, and prebiotics, along with the causal and clinical effects that are responsible for these changes,” researchers wrote.
“Association between Altered Blood Parameters and Gut Microbiota after Synbiotic Intake in Healthy, Elderly Korean Women”
Authors: Song Hee Lee, et al.