Probiotics May Benefit Health and Quality of Life of Older People

WASHINGTON, May 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Cutting-edge science on the potential for probiotics in geriatric health and disease was presented at The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) Annual Meeting in a symposium, "Probiotics: Impact on Health and Quality of Life in Older People." Leading scientists and physicians shared the newest science on probiotics and how they relate to immune function, intestinal disorders, inflammation, and cancer in older adults.

Probiotics are "friendly" bacteria, like those in certain yogurts and fermented dairy drinks that can provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition. Research has shown that regularly consuming certain specific probiotics can help strengthen the body's natural defenses, or improving digestive health.

At the symposium, John E. Morley, MB, B.Ch. of Saint Louis University School of Medicine led a world-class panel of speakers who stimulated scientific dialog concerning the benefits from specific "friendly" bacteria in older adults and their use in clinical applications.

Dr. Allan Walker, Director of the Division of Nutrition at Harvard Medical School, opened by providing an overview of probiotics. He explained that probiotics act on the intestinal tract to modulate the intestinal microbiota and other intestinal functions. Adding probiotics to the diet can change the composition of gut flora in older people, optimizing the functioning of the intestinal lining as well as the immune system. About 70 percent of our body's immune system is located in the digestive tract.

There will be approximately 2 billion people over the age of 60 by 2050. As we age, there is impairment of all of the different arms of immune function, reported Dr. Simin Meydani, Associate Director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center at Tufts University. The main problem older people face is a higher incidence of morbidity or mortality from infectious diseases because they are lacking a proper immune function. Dr. Meydani also discussed how probiotics could be beneficial to immune response and intestinal diseases in the aging.

Peter R. Holt, Senior Research Associate at Rockefeller University, highlighted the role of probiotics in inflammation and cancer. One of the main cancers contributing to death in the US is colorectal cancer, which has been associated with our diets. Dr. Holt reviewed the promising body of evidence, which supports the role of certain probiotic cultures in colon cancer risk reduction. He reported that probiotics may be beneficial by influencing several major intestinal functions that may accompany the development of colon cancer, such as detoxification, colonic fermentation, and gastrointestinal transit.

Probiotics have been used worldwide and their health benefits have been noted for some time. As the science on probiotics continues to emerge, their use in the United States has become more prevalent. A large body of evidence is showing that the addition of certain types of "friendly" bacteria to the diet can have beneficial effects on immune function and microbial activities throughout the body and in people of all ages. The role of probiotics in health may extend far beyond what was originally conceived.

The symposium was supported by an educational grant provided by The Dannon Company, Inc. and Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd.

A Webcast of the symposium will be made available at http://www.americangeriatrics.org , www.probioticscenter.com and http://www.yakult.co.jp/front/institute/.

Dannon and Yakult Continue to Advocate and Lead Probiotic Research and Education

Active cultures have been used for centuries to help promote healthy functioning of the body. New food products have been introduced and more are on the horizon that provide these good bacteria. For example, Dannon and Yakult are leading companies researching probiotics with academic approaches and providing various products worldwide. Dannon produces DanActive(TM), a cultured probiotic dairy drink that has been clinically proven to help strengthen the body's defense system, Activia(R), a yogurt that has been clinically proven to help naturally regulate the digestive system by helping with slow intestinal transit, and Danimals(R) which is clinically proven to help kids stay healthy. Yakult, with its signature probiotics Lactobacillus casei Shirota, has been educating people around the world about the benefits of probiotics with their cultured probiotic dairy drink, Yakult(R) for more than 70 years.

In March 2004, Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd. and Groupe Danone, the parent company of The Dannon Company, jointly established the Global Probiotics Council. The role of the GPC is to promote and advance probiotics in the world by raising public awareness through education, communicating the latest knowledge to relevant interest groups, and supporting collaborative research in the areas of probiotics and intestinal flora.

The Dannon Company is America's founding national yogurt company and continually leverages its expertise to develop and market innovative cultured fresh dairy products in the United States. Headquartered in White Plains, NY, Dannon has plants in Minster, OH, Fort Worth, TX, and West Jordan, UT. The company produces and sells approximately 100 different types of flavors, styles and sizes of cultured fresh dairy products. Dannon is owned by Groupe Danone, one of the world's leading producers of packaged foods and beverages, and Dannon is the top-selling brand of yogurt products worldwide, sold under the names Dannon and Danone. With a strong commitment to high-quality, wholesome, nutritious and innovative products, The Dannon Company is committed to encouraging healthy eating and living. This commitment is also illustrated through The Dannon Company's support of the Dannon Institute, an independent, non-profit foundation dedicated to promoting research, education, and communication about the links between nutrition, diet and health. For more information, please visit www.dannon.com.

For more information on probiotics, visit www.probioticscenter.com.

Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd., headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, is the world's pioneer in probiotics by introducing the first single shot probiotics drink, Yakult(R), in 1935. Founded by microbiologist Dr. Minoru Shirota, Yakult(R) contains high amounts of its signature strain, Lactobacillus casei Shirota. Yakult is committed to researching the endless applications for probiotics and the use of intestinal bacteria in human health around the world. The company has established two science institutes to support its efforts; one in Japan (Yakult Central Institute for Microbiological Research) and one in Europe (Yakult Honsha European Research Center for Microbiology ESV). Since developing its overseas network in 1964, Yakult has expanded its business to 31 countries and territories. In addition to producing the internationally recognized probiotic beverage, Yakult is also accredited in the pharmaceutical field for its development of Campto Injection (Camptosar), the first-line drug for colorectal cancer in the U.S. Yakult U.S.A. Inc., the subsidiary of Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd., is stationed in Torrance, CA. For more information, please visit www.yakult.co.jp/english, www.yakult.co.jp/institute, www.yakultusa.com.

SOURCE The Dannon Company, Inc.; Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd.

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