Morinaga Milk Industry Co., Ltd. (TOKYO:2264), a Japanese dairy product company, today announced new research showing that consumption of its proprietary probiotic Morinaga Bifidobacterium infantis M-63 improved the mental state of victims of the disastrous 2014-2015 flood in Malaysia, collaborating with the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).
In December 2014, one of the worst floods in decades hit Malaysia. During floods, poor environmental hygiene leads to exposure to elevated levels of pathogenic bacteria, which is known to cause digestive illness and lead to additional physical as well as psychological problems. Since medical interventions to support victims’ health are required not only when disaster strikes but also during the recovery period, Morinaga and USM studied the effects of consuming Bifidobacterium infantis M-63 on study participants’ psychological health after the flood.
“We conducted research involving 53 victims of the flood and found some significant differences in the composition of microbiota between subjects with and without abdominal abnormalities,”
Professor Yeong Yeh Lee, School of Medical Sciences, USM, explained.
“Through supplementation with Bifidobacterium infantis M-63, we succeeded in significantly alleviating the mental stress of those subjects with abdominal abnormalities.”
The study was conducted between September and December of 2015 and followed 53 consented adults , in a non-random fashion, 20 with Irritable Bowel Syndrome were asked to take one sachet of Bifidobacterium infantis M-63 powder (2.5×109 per sachet) per day for three months (M-63 intake group). Also, 33 victims without digestive difficulties who did not take bifidobacteria served as controls (non-intake group).
Before and after the intervention, the subjects were evaluated for their mental state using SF-36, a health-related quality of life (QOL) questionnaire. A lower SF-36 scores indicate worse QOL. In addition, they provided fecal samples for comprehensive analysis of intestinal microflora using a next-generation sequencer. Researchers examined the relationship between abdominal difficulties, intestinal microflora, and the volunteers’ mental state.
1. M-63 Significantly Improved Mental Score
Before/after-intervention, total mental component score was improved significantly in the M-63 intake group (Before intake vs. after-intake = 75.0 vs 83.1, p value = 0.02). Also, mental well-being score was improved significantly (Before intake vs. after-intake = 70.0 vs 86.0, p value = 0.01)
2. Change of Intestinal Microflora May Be Correlated to Improvement of Mental Score
The results of the gut microbiota analysis in the current study revealed that the Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio was significantly reduced in the M-63 intake group compared to the control group (p value=0.01). In addition, a significant negative correlation was observed between Mental Component Summary score and Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio (ρ value = -0.37, p value = 0.04). This indicates that consumption of Bifidobacterium infantis M-63 can effectively improve mental well-being and that the improvement is probably related to a change in the ratio of gut microbiota.
“The gut-brain axis is now at the cutting edge of recent worldwide probiotics research,”
Dr. Jinzhong Xiao, General Manager of Morinaga Milk’s Next Generation Science Institute, stated.
“We are pleased that we have found a new potential use for our probiotics, but we are just on the starting line. We will continue to advance our research on the effects of bifidobacteria on human health.”