Background: Ingestion of fermented dairy products induces changes in the equilibrium and metabolism of the intestinal microflora and may thus have beneficial effects on the host.
Objective: We compared the effects of chronic consumption of yogurt with (fresh) or without (heated) live bacterial cultures (Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus) on plasma glucose, insulin, triacylglycerols, cholesterol, fatty acids, and short-chain fatty acids.
Design: Two groups of 12 healthy men with or without lactose malabsorption were selected with use of a breath-hydrogen test after a 30-g lactose load. Subjects were randomly assigned in a crossover design to 500 g/d of either fresh or heated yogurt for 2 periods of 15 d each, separated by a 15-d washout interval.
Results: Chronic consumption of fresh or heated yogurt had no detrimental effects on plasma glucose, insulin, or fatty acid areas under the curve in response to acute ingestion of 500 g yogurt in healthy men with or without lactose malabsorption. There were also no detectable changes in fasting plasma glucose, insulin, fatty acid, triacylglycerol, or cholesterol concentrations. In contrast, plasma butyrate was higher (P: < 0.03) and plasma propionate tended to be higher (P: = 0.059) in subjects without lactose malabsorption after fresh yogurt consumption than after heated yogurt consumption. There were no significant changes in plasma acetate. In subjects with lactose malabsorption, 15 d of fresh yogurt consumption also increased propionate production compared with values at baseline (P: < 0.04). In the same group, the production of breath hydrogen was lower after fresh yogurt consumption than after heated yogurt consumption (P: < 0.01).
Conclusions: In men with lactose malabsorption, chronic consumption of yogurt containing live bacterial cultures ameliorated the malabsorption, as evidenced by lower breath-hydrogen excretion, but increased propionate concentrations. In subjects without lactose malabsorption, such yogurt tended to increase propionate and increased butyrate.