Probiotics May Benefit Health and Quality of Life of Older People

Friday, May 2, 2008 General News
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WASHINGTON, May 1 Cutting-edge science on the potentialfor probiotics in geriatric health and disease was presented at The AmericanGeriatrics Society (AGS) Annual Meeting in a symposium, "Probiotics: Impact onHealth and Quality of Life in Older People." Leading scientists and physiciansshared the newest science on probiotics and how they relate to immunefunction, intestinal disorders, inflammation, and cancer in older adults.

Probiotics are "friendly" bacteria, like those in certain yogurts andfermented dairy drinks that can provide health benefits beyond basicnutrition. Research has shown that regularly consuming certain specificprobiotics can help strengthen the body's natural defenses, or improvingdigestive health.

At the symposium, John E. Morley, MB, B.Ch. of Saint Louis UniversitySchool of Medicine led a world-class panel of speakers who stimulatedscientific dialog concerning the benefits from specific "friendly" bacteria inolder adults and their use in clinical applications.

Dr. Allan Walker, Director of the Division of Nutrition at Harvard MedicalSchool, opened by providing an overview of probiotics. He explained thatprobiotics act on the intestinal tract to modulate the intestinal microbiotaand other intestinal functions. Adding probiotics to the diet can change thecomposition of gut flora in older people, optimizing the functioning of theintestinal lining as well as the immune system. About 70 percent of ourbody's immune system is located in the digestive tract.

There will be approximately 2 billion people over the age of 60 by 2050.As we age, there is impairment of all of the different arms of immunefunction, reported Dr. Simin Meydani, Associate Director of the Jean MayerUSDA Human Nutrition Research Center at Tufts University. The main problemolder people face is a higher incidence of morbidity or mortality frominfectious diseases because they are lacking a proper immune function. Dr.Meydani also discussed how probiotics could be beneficial to immune responseand intestinal diseases in the aging.

Peter R. Holt, Senior Research Associate at Rockefeller University,highlighted the role of probiotics in inflammation and cancer. One of the maincancers contributing to death in the US is colorectal cancer, which has beenassociated with our diets. Dr. Holt reviewed the promising body of evidence,which supports the role of certain probiotic cultures in colon cancer riskreduction. He reported that probiotics may be beneficial by influencingseveral major intestinal functions that may accompany the development of coloncancer, such as detoxification, colonic fermentation, and gastrointestinaltransit.

Probiotics have been used worldwide and their health benefits have beennoted for some time. As the science on probiotics continues to emerge, theiruse in the United States has become more prevalent. A large body of evidenceis showing that the addition of certain types of "friendly" bacteria to thediet can have beneficial effects on immune function and microbial activitiesthroughout the body and in people of all ages. The role of probiotics inhealth may extend far beyond what was originally conceived.

The symposium was supported by an educational grant provided by The DannonCompany, Inc. and Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd.

A Webcast of the symposium will be made available at , and

Dannon and Yakult Continue to Advocate and Lead Probiotic Research andEducation

Active cultures have been used for centuries to help promote healthyfunctioning of the body. New food products have been introduced and more areon the horizon that provide these good bacteria. For example, Dannon andYakult are leading companies researching probiotics with academic approachesand providing various products worldwide. D

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