The health of the new-born
It has been shown that healthy new-born babies have a higher number of bifidobacteria in their microflora. Several studies have indicated that it is the stimulation of this microflora that resulted in the absence of diarrhoea, their increased resistance to gastro-entritis as well as general improved resistance to infections
(Speck, 1975; Romond, 1986; Bullen & Willis, 1971).
Health of the adult
The same can be said for adults as well. The ingestion of bifidobacteria has been shown to encourage a better protection against gastrointestinal disturbances especially traveler’s diarhoea (Black et al 1995 & 1996) and the prevention of unwanted constipation especially in geriatric patients (Alm et al 1993; Sagen 1989; Saavedra et al 1998).
A lower pH prevents the growth of harmful bacteria
Bifidobacteria ferment non-digestible carbohydrates into various organic acids like lactic and acetic acids. These lower the pH of the intestinal environment which in turn inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria (Rasic & Karman, 1983; Hara, et al, 1978; Kawase, et al 1983).
Bifidobacteria produce bacteriocins
The antibacterial activity of bifidobacteria is the result of the production of bacteriocin-like substances (Gibson & Wang, 1994b; Meghrous et al., 1990).
Bifidobacteria help to activate the immune system
Bifidobacteria produce substances that are able to activate the immune system of the host. This allows a better resistance against microbial infections (Ellegaard, et al 1992; Hatcher, et al 1993).
Bifidobacteria help to synthesize certain vitamins
Bifidobacteria synthesize vitamins especially the B-group (Liebscher, 1961; Nishizawa, 1960; Minagawa, 1970)
Bifidobacteria reduce the production of putrefactive components
The presence of Bifidobacteria is characterized by a low production of ammonia, aliphatic amines and hydrogen sulphide, the usual by products of putrefaction (Hansen, 1985; Rowland & Grasso, 1975).
Bifidobacteria increase the absorption of minerals
Bifidobacteria induce a better resorption of some ions such as iron and calcium (Pahwa & Mathur, 1982). Recently it has been demonstrated that the consumption of oligofructose in the presence of bifidobacteria increases calcium absorption in humans (Van den Heuvel et al 1999; Abraham et al 2000).
Bifidobacteria reduce the extent and severity of symptoms of atopic eczema in infants
A number of studies has shown that supplementation of infant formula with bifidobacteria will help in the management of atopic eczema in infants (Isolauri, et al 2000; Kankaanpaa et al 1998)