Aim: Some probiotics improve digestive comfort of people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but this needs confirmation in a healthy population. The objective of this pilot study was to investigate the effect of consuming fermented milk containing the probiotics Bifidobacterium lactis DN-173010 and yoghourt strains (test product) on digestive comfort and symptoms amongst adults without diagnosed gastrointestinal disorders.
Methods: The study was designed to approximate a real-life situation, by using a branded product in the intervention groups. In an open-label, randomized, controlled trial, 371 adults reporting digestive discomfort were randomized into three groups who had a daily consumption of either one or two pots of test product over 2 weeks, or to follow their usual diet. Digestive comfort and bother from digestive symptoms were assessed by questionnaire at baseline and follow-up (per protocol population n = 360). Self-reported change in digestive comfort and computed change between baseline and follow-up for each of 20 items were compared between groups (Cochran-Mantel-Haenszel test).
Results: A higher percentage of participants consuming the test product reported improved digestive comfort (1-pot group 82.5%; 2-pot group 84.3%), than controls (2.9%). Their self-reported change scores differed significantly (P < 0.001). For both test product groups, almost all symptom scores improved significantly more than controls (P < 0.001). There were no significant differences between 1-pot and 2-pot groups.
Conclusions: This pilot study shows that daily consumption of a probiotic food in real-life conditions may be useful in improving digestive comfort and symptom experience of adults from general population. Further double-blind randomized controlled studies are required to confirm these health benefits.