Synbiotic may improve gut health in elderly

January 28, 2009

Researchers at Danisco have found that consumption of a synbiotic—a combination of a probiotic, Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM, and a prebiotic, lactitol—may improve gut and immune health in the elderly. The study looked at 51 elderly Finnish subjects, over the age of 65, who were all users of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). The use of these drugs can cause changes in intestinal microbiota, specifically, a reduction in bifidobacteria. This can also occur because of age-related changes. The current study aimed at modifying the intestinal microbiota with the synbiotic on selected immune and microbiota markers. The study consisted of a two-week run-in period, followed by a two-week intervention period, and finally a two-week wash-out period. Each two-week period ended with fecal sampling. The participants were randomized to consume, during the intervention period, either a placebo (sucrose) or the symbiotic twice daily, mixed with yogurt or juice.

Fecal testing revealed that levels of bifidobacteria were higher in the synbiotic group after intervention as compared to the placebo group. Levels declined for both groups after the wash-out period. In addition, stool frequency was higher and a significant increase in fecal L. acidophilus NCFM levels was observed in the synbiotic group compared with the placebo group. The results suggest that consumption of lactitol combined with L. acidophilus NCFM twice daily may improve some markers of the intestinal microbiota composition and mucosal functions.

This study is published in the British Journal of Nutrition.