Consumption of exogenous bifidobacteria does not alter fecal bifidobacteria and breath hydrogen excretion in humans

Mary M. Amann, Martin J. Kullen, Margaret C. Martini, Francis F. Busta, Linda J. Brady

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11 Scopus citations


The hypothesis that consumption of bifidobacteria by humans would increase colonic bifidobacteria and decrease breath hydrogen excretion was examined. A commercially available strain of bifidobacteria was tracked through the gastrointestinal tract. We determined that a 12-d feeding period of 1010 cells of exogenous bifidobacteria daily was adequate to achieve a stable number of exogenous bifidobacteria in the colon. A 12-d washout period was chosen because the exogenous bifidobacteria could no longer be detected at that time. A double-blind crossover study used both male and female subjects. The order of treatment with skim milk alone or skim milk + bifidobacteria was randomized. Breath hydrogen excretion (μmol/L) and fecal counts of total bifidobacteria [log colony forming units (CFU)/g feces] were not significantly different between males and females and were not affected by consumption of exogenous bifidobacteria. Calculations based on the numbers of exogenous bifidobacteria consumed and the fecal numbers of exogenous bifidobacteria excreted suggested that numbers of the exogenous strain increased within the gastrointestinal tract. These data suggest that it is difficult to permanently alter total colonic bifidobacteria and affect physiologic function (net hydrogen in the colon as reflected by breath hydrogen) by feeding bifidobacteria, although the percentage of the total bifidobacteria represented by the exogenous strain can be affected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)996-1002
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1998


  • Breath hydrogen
  • Fecal bifidobacteria
  • Humans
  • Ingested bifidobacteria


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