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 functions and gave moderately enhanced bowel movements with no side effects.
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.
According to Dr Arthur Ouwehand, leader of the research team at Danisco’s nutrition centre in Kantvik, Finland, reduced bowel and immune functions are common problems in seniors.
The use of NSAID may also affect their intestinal health, by damaging the mucosa in the gastrointestinal tract. Ouwehand says that their aim was to modify the intestinal microbiota and improve bowel function using a potential synbiotic.
The probiotic culture used for the study was Danisco’s L. acidophilus NCFM, which was chosen for its 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.
All these parameters were seen to improve the following supplementation, although there was no conclusive evidence that the effect was synbiotic rather than additive.
A number of subjects from the synbiotic group enquired whether and where the product could be purchased as it made them ‘feel good’.
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.