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'Friendly' Bacteria Can Benefit Health Throughout the Lifecycle

Experts Discuss Promising Research at The American College of Nutrition

Annual Meeting

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- New research on the benefits of probiotics in children and seniors was presented at The American College of Nutrition (ACN) Annual Meeting in a symposium, "Practical Applications of Probiotics in Health and Disease." Scientific experts in the fields of pediatrics, aging, and nutrition discussed the potential uses for probiotics in children as well as the elderly, and for health conditions such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

Probiotics are used worldwide and in the US they are one of the most rapidly growing categories of functional food. Probiotics are living "friendly" bacteria, like those in certain active-culture dairy drinks that can provide health benefits. Evidence is showing that specific strains of probiotics can improve digestive health and enhance immune function when consumed regularly.

Dr. Allan Walker, Professor of Nutrition and Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, led a world class panel of speakers in summarizing the role of probiotics in pediatrics. "Infants don't have all of their gut bacteria at birth as they acquire it up until about 2 years of age. Probiotics are 'good' bacteria, which can promote healthy colonization of bacteria in the gut during this time, leading to enhanced immunity," said Walker.

Dr. Mary Ellen Sanders, a consultant specializing in probiotics, provided an overview of the studies showing the benefits of probiotics and health. She said, "compelling new studies are showing how probiotics can help keep healthy people healthy. One study showed a decreased incidence of common infectious diseases among kids in day care." She stressed the fact that each individual strain of probiotic can act differently, so a probiotic that helps with digestion may be different from one that supports the immune system.

Dr. Stefano Guandalini, Professor of Pediatrics and Director of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center shared the newest research on probiotics and inflammatory bowel disease. "Inflammatory bowel disease is a condition that affects approximately 1 million adults and 150,000 children in the US. Emerging studies are showing promise in children and will continue to help determine how we can be using probiotics practically for such serious conditions."

About 70 percent of our body's immune system is located in the digestive tract and as we age, our immune function weakens. Dr. Simin Meydani, Associate Director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University presented cutting-edge data, which helps in answering the question, could probiotics help the elderly? "The idea is that taking in certain probiotics on a regular basis might positively change the bacterial populations in the gut in older people," she said.

Under normal circumstances in our gastrointestinal systems, there are many more "friendly" bacteria than "bad" bacteria. If this balance shifts, however, the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract may be affected. Research suggests that adding probiotics to the diet can help optimize the functioning of the intestinal lining, as well as, the immune system. The role of probiotics in health may be greater than what we once thought.

A Webcast of the symposium will be made available at,, and

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

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

For more information on probiotics, visit

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,,

SOURCE The Dannon Company
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