B. animalis (especially its subspecies B. lactis) has many proven health benefits. It is great for GI well-being, and prevents various GI symptoms, especially in children. It also combats obesity, boosts immunity and prevents infections.
What is Bifidobacterium animalis?
Bifidobacterium animalis is a gram-positive rod-shaped bacterium which can be found in the gut of most mammals, including humans.
B. lactis was previously considered to be a separate species but was shown to be a subspecies of B. animalis (hence B. animalis ssp. lactis) , and therefore it is addressed as such in this post. Note that most of the research mentioned below were carried out with this subspecies.
Health Benefits of B. animalis
1) Combats Obesity
Daily ingestion of milk containing B. animalis ssp. lactis significantly reduced the BMI, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, and inflammatory markers in humans .
B. animalis ssp. lactis significantly reduced BMI, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein and inflammatory cytokines in patients with metabolic syndrome .
2) May Be Beneficial in Diabetes
B. animalis ssp. lactis reduces weight gain, fat mass and improves glucose tolerance in diabetic mice .
B. animalis ssp. lactis decreased fasting insulin and blood glucose, and significantly improves insulin tolerance in mice with noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. This probiotic also improves diabetes-induced total cholesterol and triglyceride (TG) levels and increases the muscle glycogen content .
3) Prevents Anemia in Children
Milk with B. animalis ssp. lactis and prebiotic oligosaccharides reduced the risk of being anemic and iron deficient by 45% and increased weight gain by 0.13 kg/year in 1-4-year-old children .
4) Boosts Immunity
B. animalis ssp. lactis augments immunity in young healthy women .
B. animalis spp. lactis supplementation in pregnancy has the potential to influence fetal immune parameters as well as immunomodulatory factors in breast milk .
B. animalis ssp. lactis mitigates the negative immune-related effects of not breastfeeding and cesarean delivery by augmenting the immune response, evidenced by increased anti-rotavirus- and anti-poliovirus-specific IgA .
B. animalis ssp. lactis stimulates the immune response to vaccination .
5) Prevents Infections
B. animalis ssp. lactis reduces days with cold/flu in young healthy adults .
B. animalis ssp. lactis reduces the severity of infection due to E. coli in mice .
6) Alleviates Allergy
B. animalis ssp. lactis significantly improved eczema symptoms in infants .
7) Alleviates Inflammation
B. animalis ssp. lactis added to yogurt post-fermentation has anti-inflammatory properties in healthy adults .
B. animalis ssp. lactis inhibits inflammation in elderly volunteers .
8) Beneficial for the GI Tract
B. animalis Improves Gut Microbiota
B. animalis spp. lactis supplementation can increase Bifidobacteria and reduce Enterobacteriaceae and Clostridium in infants .
B. animalis Improves GI Wellbeing
4 weeks’ supplementation with B. animalis ssp. lactis resulted in a clinically relevant benefit on defecation frequency in healthy adults with abdominal discomfort .
B. animalis May Protect against Drug-Induced GI Damage
B. animalis ssp. lactis protects against NSAID-induced GI side effects in rats and may prevent more serious GI mucosal damage and/or enhance the recovery rate of the stomach mucosa .
B. animalis Ameliorates Diarrhea and Constipation
B. lactis milk formula administered to children with acute diarrhea decreased the frequency, duration of diarrhea, and hospital stay .
B. animalis spp. lactis prevents acute diarrhea in infants .
Treatment with B. animalis spp. lactis and inulin shortened the duration of acute diarrhea in children. The benefits were most pronounced in cases of Rotavirus diarrhea .
B. animalis spp. lactis together with Streptococcus thermophilus reduced the frequency of antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) in infants .
Fermented milk containing B. animalis spp. lactis has beneficial effects on stool frequency, defecation condition and stool consistency in adult women with constipation .
B. animalis ssp. lactis increased Bifidobacteria and improved constipation in humans .
B. animalis May Ameliorate Colitis
B. animalis spp. lactis exhibits anti-inflammatory effects and reduces the incidence of diarrhea in rats with colitis .
B. animalis ssp. lactis protects barrier functions by restoring intestinal permeability, colonic goblet cell populations, and cytokine levels. It also restores the Th1/Th2 ratio by increasing the Th2 response in mice with chronic low-grade intestinal inflammation .
B. animalis Ameliorates IBS
B animalis spp. lactis significantly improved objectively measured abdominal girth and gastrointestinal transit, as well as reduced symptomatology in IBS patients .
9) Beneficial in H. pylori Treatment
B. animalis spp. lactis and inulin significantly reduced treatment side effects and indirectly increased eradication rates by increasing patient compliance in patients with symptomatic H. pylori infection .
10) Stimulates Growth in Infants
11) Beneficial for the Elderly
B. animalis spp. lactis can enhance natural immunity in healthy elderly subjects .
B. animalis spp. lactis increases leukocyte phagocytic and NK cell tumor-cell-killing activity in the elderly. Increases in the proportions of total, helper (CD4(+)), and activated (CD25(+)) T lymphocytes and natural killer cells were also observed [58, 59, 60].
12) Exhibits Antioxidant Properties
B. animalis culture supernatant, intact cells, and intracellular cell-free extracts all effectively scavenge free radicals and significantly enhance the activities of antioxidative enzymes in mice .
13) May Be Beneficial in Celiac Disease
Live B. animalis ssp. lactis bacteria can directly counteract the harmful effects exerted by celiac-toxic gluten (gliadin) to human intestinal cells .
14) May Be Beneficial in Other Autoimmune Disease
In rats with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, B. animalis significantly reduces the duration of clinical symptoms .
15) Degrades Oxalate
B. animalis ssp. lactis possesses the oxc gene, encoding oxalyl-coenzyme A (CoA) decarboxylase, a key enzyme in oxalate degradation .
B. animalis ssp. lactis significantly decreased urinary oxalate excretion in mice with hyperoxaluria by degrading dietary oxalate thus limiting its absorption across the intestine .
16) May Combat Cancer
B. animalis ssp. lactis decreased the mean number and size of tumors in mice with colitis-associated cancer .
- Increases IgA [23, 11, 12, 24, 10], IgG, IgG1, and IgG3 .
- Elevates NK-cell cytotoxicity .
- Decreases TNF-α [3, 49, 29].
- Increases TGF-β1 .
- Increases IFN-α  and IFN-γ .
- Increases IL-2  and IL-10 [23, 50].
- Increases IL-4 and IL-5 in low-grade inflammation .
- Decreases IL-5 and IL-13 in allergy .
- Can both decrease  and increase  IL-6.
- Decreases iNOS, COX-2 , PCK1 and G6PC .
- Increases PP-1, GLUT4  and FOXP3 .
- Can induce CD19 lymphocyte proliferation in parasite infection .
- Mostly decreases NF-κB [68, 48] [a study where it was increased: 67].
B. animalis is safe and well tolerated in infants, adults and elderly. Probiotics are generally considered safe but should be avoided in patients with organ failure, immunocompromised status, and dysfunctional gut barrier mechanisms.
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