READING, England, March 7 /PRNewswire/ --

A prebiotic has been defined as "a non-digestible food ingredient that beneficially affects the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of beneficial bacteria in the colon."(3) Put more simply, prebiotics act as food for gut bacteria - choose the right food and you can increase the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates, predominantly inulin and oligosaccharides such as fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) or galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS)(8,9). They are found in small amounts in foods such as wheat, oats, bananas, asparagus, leeks, garlic and onions.

New data published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that the prebiotic supplement Bimuno significantly increases levels of bifidobacteria in humans within seven days(1). Bifidobacteria are the most important types of positive, or 'good' bacteria in the gut, as they specifically stimulate the immune system, increase resistance to infection and diarrhoeal disease, reduce markers of chronic gut problems and enhance overall gut health(2).

Prebiotics act as food for health-promoting, good bacteria that naturally reside in the gut(3). Within the gut there are billions of micro-organisms - bacteria, viruses and fungi, known collectively as the gut flora. A healthy gut flora consists of plenty of good bacteria. However, the gut flora composition can be upset by a number of factors including stress(4), illness, recovery from surgery, poor diet, overseas travelling, age(5,6) and antibiotics. A high level of negative, or bad gut bacteria can lead to symptomatic problems including diarrhoea, constipation, bloating and IBS, and can increase susceptibility to other health problems due to lowered natural defence(7).

Prebiotic supplements, have been shown to increase positive or good gut bacteria, elevating their numbers and metabolic activity and reducing illness-causing pathogens(1,8,9,10).

"When considering increasing your good bacteria with a supplement, it is important to target the right bacteria as some bacteria have wider health benefits than others. Today's new data shows that unlike many prebiotics or indeed probiotics, Bimuno is non-digestible, gets to where it is needed in the gut - intact - and is designed to specifically target the best of the good bacteria, bifidobacteria," says Liz Tucker, Health and Wellbeing Consultant.

The new data shows that Bimuno significantly increased bifidobacteria in the human gut within seven days compared to both another prebiotic supplement and placebo (p<0.05)(1). Bimuno can therefore be classed as a prebiotic with a bifidogenic effect as it is most selective towards feeding and stimulating bifidobacteria naturally residing in the gut.

"These results are very exciting because they show that bifidobacteria seem to have a high affinity towards this prebiotic. Interestingly, the large gut where these bacteria are found controls around 70% of the body's natural immune function, which helps protect against illness. Bifidobacteria play a key role in the gut's digestive and immune functions and now we have human evidence that prebiotics, like GOS directly stimulate these health enhancing bacteria," Professor Glenn Gibson, Head of Food Microbial Sciences, University of Reading.

Today's study results add to the growing body of evidence that prebiotics can help maintain and restore the natural balance of gut bacteria and that Bimuno's bifidogenic effect makes it a particularly effective prebiotic for increasing the numbers of the health-promoting bifidobacteria1.

About the study(1)

The aim of this double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled crossover study was to assess the prebiotic effect of a novel GOS (Bimuno) produced from lactose using galactosidases located on Bifidobacterium bifidum NCIM 41171 cells against:

a) Vivinal GOS produced through the action of an industrial beta-galactosidase enzyme

b) Placebo (sucrose)

Fifty-nine healthy human volunteers (34 female, 25 male) participated in the study.

Summary: The results showed that the novel GOS mixture (Bimuno), as supplement to western diet, exerted a prebiotic and more specifically a bifidogenic effect in a dose- response relationship in healthy human volunteers within seven days.

Bimuno is a prebiotic soluble powder which can be added daily to hot drinks and food such as tea, coffee, yoghurt and breakfast cereal.

Bimuno 5.5g has been shown to naturally increase levels of 'positive' or good bacteria, specifically the immunity-boosting bifidobacteria and reduce levels of pathogens that produce toxins which can cause illness(10,11).


(1) Depeint F, Tzortzis G, Vulevic J, I'Anson K & Gibson GR. Prebiotic evaluation of a novel galacto-oligosaccharide mixture produced by the enzymatic activity of Bifidobacterium bifidum NCIM 41171, in healthy humans: a randomized, double-blind, cross-over, placebo-controlled intervention study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition March 2008.

(2) Macfarlane GT, Steed H, Macfarlane S. Bacterial metabolism and health-related effects of galacto-oligosaccharides and other prebiotics. Journal of Applied Microbiology 2008; 104: 305-344.

(3) Roberfroid MB. Prebiotics: preferential substrates for specific germs ? Am J Clin Nutr 2001; 73(suppl): 406-9S.

(4) Food facts. Probiotics. The British Dietetic Association. July 2004. Available at

(5) Mitsuoka T. Intestinal flora and aging. Nutr Rev 1992; 50(12): 438-46 (abstract).

(6) Kleessen B, Sykura B, Zunft HJ, Blaut M. Effects of inulin and lactose on fecal microflora, microbial activity and bowel habit in elderly constipated persons. Am J Clin Nutr 1997; 65(5):1397-402 (abstract).

(7) Noverr MC, Huffnagle GB. Does the microbiota regulate immune response outside the gut? Trends Microbiol 2004; 12: 562-568.

(8) Rycroft CE, Jones MR, Gibson GR, Rastall RA. A comparative in vitro evaluation of the fermentation properties of prebiotic oligosaccharides. J Appl Microbiology 2001; 91: 878-887.

(9)Palframan R, Gibson GR, Rastall RA. Development of a quantitative tool for the comparison of the prebiotic effect of dietary oligosaccharides. Letters in Applied Microbiology 2003; 37: 281-284.

(10) Tzortzis G, Goulas AK, Gee JM, Gibson GR. A novel galactooligosaccharide mixture increases the bifidobacterial population numbers in a continuous in vitro fermentation system and in the proximal colonic content of pigs in vivo. J Nutr 2005; 135: 1726-1731.

(11) Clasado data on file: Manuscript under submission.

For further information please contact: Melissa Elsey, PR Manager, Euro RSCG Life, Email:, Tel: +44(0)20-7395-9827, Mob: +44(0)7816-363-386; George Tzortzis, R&D Manager, Clasado Ltd, Email:, Tel: +44(0)1908-577850