Probiotics strike out for ulcer treatment, offer benefits for the elderly and IBS patients, and appear to be very similar in DanActive and Yakult products.
Beneficial Bacteria Enhance Immunity in the Elderly
One reason that the elderly are more susceptible to disease is due to the weakening of their immune system. Spanish researchers attempted to find a solution for this problem by feeding thirty elderly Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus 8481 for six months during a clinical trial. After treatment, the researchers looked at the populations of different immune cells and different immune-related factors in the blood. They found favorable increases in immune cell populations (NK cells and naïve T cells) as well as increases in factors designed to protect the body from bacterial infection.
No Probiotic Benefit during Ulcer Treatment
Ulcers are known to be caused by the bacteria, Helicobacter pylori. Standard treatment includes a cocktail of acid inhibitors, antibiotics and other anti-microbial treatments. Iranian researchers considered that an additional probiotic could be helpful during treatment. Eighty-four patients with stomach ulcers were treated with the standard cocktail with a probiotic cocktail containing seven different beneficial bacterial strains. After analyzing the results, the researchers discovered no extra added benefit from the multi-strain probiotic.
DanActive or Yakult? Doesn’t Matter
Two of the most well-known probiotic strains are found in DanActive from Danone (or Dannon in the US) and Yakult drinks. DanActive contains Lactobacillus casei Defensis, and Yakult contains L. casei Shirota. Scientists from Finland decided to determine the differences between these two strains by sequencing their DNA. It turns out that these two bacteria are very much alike, and they are likely to interact with humans in the same way. The researchers speculate that the strains must share a recent common ancestor.
Will Yogurt Help IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disease characterized by abdominal pain, bloating and irregular bowel movements and can is often improved through the intake of beneficial bacteria. The Korean company Yakult looked to see if their yogurt, “Will yogurt” could reduce IBS symptoms in a 49 IBS patient trial. After four weeks of treatment, a significant increased number of patients in the probiotic group were relieved of their symptoms as opposed to the placebo group. Patients experienced mainly improvements in abdominal pain and bloating.
- Douillard FP, Kant R, Ritari J, Paulin L, Palva A, de Vos WM. Comparative genome analysis of Lactobacillus casei strains isolated from Actimel and Yakult products reveals marked similarities and points to a common origin. Microb Biotechnol. 2013 Jul 1. doi: 10.1111/1751-7915.12062. [Epub ahead of print]
- Moro-García MA, Alonso-Arias R, Baltadjieva M, Fernández Benítez C, Fernández Barrial MA, Díaz Ruisánchez E, Alonso Santos R, Alvarez Sánchez M, Saavedra Miján J, López-Larrea C. Oral supplementation with Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus 8481enhances systemic immunity in elderly subjects. Age (Dordr). 2013 Aug;35(4):1311-26. doi: 10.1007/s11357-012-9434-6. Epub 2012 May 30.
- Shavakhi A, Tabesh E, Yaghoutkar A, Hashemi H, Tabesh F, Khodadoostan M, Minakari M, Shavakhi S, Gholamrezaei A. The Effects of Multistrain Probiotic Compound on Bismuth-Containing Quadruple Therapy for Helicobacter pylori Infection: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Triple-Blind Study. Helicobacter. 2013 Aug;18(4):280-4. doi: 10.1111/hel.12047. Epub 2013 Feb 24.
- Yoon JS, Sohn W, Lee OY, Lee SP, Lee KN, Jun DW, Lee HL, Yoon BC, Choi HS, Chung WS, Seo JG. Effect of multi-species probiotics on irritable bowel syndrome: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013 Jul 5. doi: 10.1111/jgh.12322. [Epub ahead of print]