Although under physiologic conditions meal ingestion has a pleasurable dimension, a large proportion of the general population presents functional digestive symptoms including abdominal bloating, distension and discomfort. And gastrointestinal discomfort usually appears in the context of a plant-based diet rich in fermentable residues for our gut microbiota.
A new exploratory intervention study, led by Dr. Fernando Azpiroz from the Digestive System Research Unit at University Hospital Vall d’Hebron (Barcelona), shows the potential role of a fermented milk product with a probiotic bacterium in improving digestive comfort in response to a plant-based diet in healthy individuals.
The 3-day flatulogenic diet induced gas-related symptoms, increased the daily number of anal gas evacuations and dampened digestive well-being
Briefly, 63 healthy adult subjects received a 3-day high-residue diet—including foods such as legumes, vegetables, whole grain cereals and fruit—before and after 28 days’ consumption of a fermented milk product with lactic acid bacteria and the probiotic bacterium Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis CNCM I-2494. In an initial phase, participants received their habitual diet followed by a 3-day flatulogenic diet. Those subjects with at least 50% daily adherence to the flatulogenic diet and an increase in flatulence score equal to or higher than 2 then entered the 28-day administration phase consisting of 2 daily pots of a fermented milk product with B. lactis CNCM I-2494 and lactic acid bacteria.
The 3-day flatulogenic diet induced gas-related symptoms, increased the daily number of anal gas evacuations and dampened digestive well-being, compared with the habitual diet. These findings were in agreement with a previous study that found patients complaining of flatulence had an increased number of gas evacuations related with abdominal symptoms, which was tied to instability in the gut microbial ecosystem.
Consuming the fermented milk product for 28 days reduced the subjective flatulence sensation and improved digestive well-being, which was accompanied by a reduction in the number of daily anal gas evacuations.
Although fermented milk product consumption did not lead to changes in fecal microbiota diversity, some associations were found between the product and both clinical parameters and the relative abundance of some gut bacteria.
Due to the high prevalence of functional digestive symptoms, exploring the role of probiotics for managing them might be worthwhile
For instance, the reduction in the number of anal gas evacuations correlated with a decrease in the relative abundance of Mogibacterium and Parvimonas and an increase in Desulfobibrionaceae. Furthermore, the reduced flatulence sensation was associated with a depletion in the relative abundance of Methanobrevibacter species and an increase in Succinivibrio.
On the whole, these findings show that the inclusion of a fermented milk product with a probiotic bacterium in the diet of healthy subjects may help improve the tolerance of a plant-based flatulogenic diet. The authors suggested that the improvement of digestive symptoms through intake of a fermented milk product could be related to both the gut microbiota metabolism of plant substrates and an effect probiotics have on gut sensitivity. Due to the high prevalence of functional digestive symptoms among the general population, exploring the role of probiotics for managing them might be worthwhile.
This review article belongs to the special issue “Food and Diet for Gut Function and Dysfunction” in the peer reviewed open access journal Nutrients. This issue was instigated by the European Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, guest edited by Profs Fernando Azpiroz and Paul Enck, and made possible through an unrestricted educational grant from Danone.
Le Nevé B, Martinez de la Torre A, Tap J, et al. A fermented milk product with B. lactis CNCM I-2494 and lactic acid bacteria improves gastrointestinal comfort in response to a challenge diet rich in fermentable residues in healthy subjects. Nutrients. 2020; 12(2), 320. doi: 10.3390/nu12020320.