Green tea is one of the most popular beverages in the world. Its beneficial health effects and components have been extensively reviewed. However, little is known about the influence of green tea consumption on the human intestinal microbiota (HIM), which plays a crucial role in human health. Ten volunteers who did not usually consume green tea, drank it for 10 days and then stopped drinking it for 7 days. Their fecal samples were collected at three time points: before beginning the 10-day green-tea regime, at the conclusion of that 10 days, and 7 days after stopping the regime. Their fecal samples were analyzed by terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism with specific primer-restriction enzyme systems for HIM and by using a real-time PCR method for the Bifidobacterium species. Although the HIM of each subject was relatively stable, the proportion of Bifidobacterium species played an important role in the classification of their fecal microbiota. Although there were inter-individual differences in the Bifidobacterium species, an overall tendency for the proportion of bifidobacteria to increase because of green tea consumption was noted. However, little change was observed in the composition of Bifidobacterium species in each sample. This suggests that the change in proportion was induced, not by an inter-species transition, but by an intra-species increase and/or decrease. In conclusion, green tea consumption might act as a prebiotic and improve the colon environment by increasing the proportion of the Bifidobacterium species.
© 2012 The Societies and Wiley Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.