Objective: To assess how fermented oat drink with two selected Bifidobacterium longum strains influences bowel movements among elderly nursing home residents.
Design: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
Setting: 12 wards in two nursing homes in Finland.
Participants: 209 residents.
Intervention: Wards were randomized to receive daily a fermented oat drink with 1) 109 CFU/day Bifidobacterium longum strains or 2) 109 CFU/day Bifidobacterium lactis Bb12 or 3) without viable bacteria (placebo) for 7 months.
Measurements: Regularity of bowel movements (no movements or functioning) and consistency of stools (normal, soft or diarrhoea) were recorded for each resident on a daily basis.
Results: The fermented oat drinks were well taken by the subjects, compliance being 85%. The groups receiving active products had more frequent bowel movements than did the placebo group (B. longum group normal functioning 28.5% of follow-up days, B.lactis group 26.9%, and placebo group 20.0%, respectively). The differences between the B. longum and the placebo group (mean 7.1, 95% CI 2.3 - 11.9, p=0.004) and between the B.lactis group and the placebo (mean 6.7, 95% CI 2.5 - 10.9, p = 0.002) were significant even when diarrhoea and constipation in the 3 months prior to the study were used as covariates.
Conclusions: It is possible to normalize bowel movements in frail nursing home.