Garlic (Allium sativum) is considered one of the best disease-preventive foods. We evaluated in vitro the effect of a commercial garlic powder (GP), at concentrations of 0.1% and 1% (w/v), upon the viability of representative gut bacteria. In pure culture studies, Lactobacillus casei DSMZ 20011 was essentially found to be resistant to GP whereas a rapid killing effect of between 1 and 3 log CFU/ml reduction in cell numbers was observed with Bacteroides ovatus, Bifidobacterium longum DSMZ 20090 and Clostridium nexile A2-232. After 6h incubation, bacterial numbers increased steadily and once the strains became resistant they retained their resistant phenotype upon sub-culturing. A colonic model was also used to evaluate the effect of GP on a mixed bacterial population representing the microbiota of the distal colon. Lactic acid bacteria were found to be more resistant to GP compared to the clostridial members of the gut microbiota. While for most bacteria the antimicrobial effect was transient, the lactobacilli showed a degree of resistance to garlic, indicating that its consumption may favour the growth of these beneficial bacterial species in the gut. Garlic intake has the potential to temporarily modulate the gut microbiota.
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