Yogurt-type probiotic eases digestive discomfort

NEW YORK Wed Mar 4, 2009 1:15pm EST

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Regular consumption of a yogurt-like fermented milk product containing the digestion boosting probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis appears to ease digestive discomfort, researchers report.

An open-label study of healthy adults who ate or did not eat Activia (Danone, Ltd.) daily for 2-weeks suggests "the daily consumption of this specific probiotic food improves digestive comfort," Dr. Denis Guyonnet told Reuters Health.

Guyonnet is the senior research scientist with the Activia Health Benefit Team at Danone Research in Palaiseau, France, and the study was supported by a grant from Danone.

Previous research has shown probiotic products -- those containing microorganisms that aid digestion -- are beneficial for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and other digestive problems, Guyonnet and colleagues point out in their article in the Journal of Digestive Diseases.

The findings of the current study suggest "people experiencing some digestive troubles, even without diagnosed gastrointestinal diseases like IBS, can benefit from the consumption of this specific probiotic product," said Guyonnet.

The study participants included 360 healthy men and women, 18 to 65 years old, who had no diagnosed gastrointestinal problems but reported some digestive discomfort in questionnaires completed at the start of the study.

For a 2-week period, 144 and 147 of these men and women, respectively, ate one or two servings of the fermented milk product daily, while 69 participants (controls) did not. The investigators urged all participants to otherwise maintain their other normal dietary and exercise habits.

After 2 weeks, about 83 and 84 percent of those eating one or two servings of the probiotic product reported improvements in digestive comfort. Just 3 percent of the control group reported the same.

Among those eating the fermented milk probiotic, "the bother from different gas-related symptoms (feeling bloated, excessive or trapped wind, swollen stomach) was significantly reduced," Guyonnet noted.

These findings suggest an overall positive effect from the regular consumption of probiotic food, Guyonnet and colleagues conclude. However, they acknowledge, a proper clinical trial, in which participants do not know if they are getting an active of placebo product, is needed to confirm the beneficial effects.

SOURCE: Journal of Digestive Diseases, February 2009

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