The Effect of Honey on Growth of Bifidobacteria

Bifidobacteria are part of a group of bacteria considered important to the health of the gastro-intestinal tract (GI). Clini-cal studies have associated other beneficial effects such as immune enhancement and anti carcinogenicity with the presence of bifidobacteria in the GI tract. One approach for ensuring or increasing the presence of healthful colonic bacteria is to provide them as a probiotic. A probiotic is a live microbial feed supplement, which beneficially affects the host organism by improving its intestinal microbial balance.
Dairy products have been the preferred medium to reintroduce viable populations of lactic acid bacteria and
bifidobacteria into the GI tract of both children and adults. Bifidobacteria must remain viable in large numbers in the carrier food to be used with confidence as a dietary adjunct. However, maintaining the viability of bifidobacteria during processing and refrigerated storage has been a challenge to dairy processors.
Another approach to in-creasing the numbers of bifidobacteria in the GI tract is the incorporation of prebiotics in the diet. A prebiotic is a non-digestible dietary supplement that modifies the balance of the intestinal microflora stimulating the growth and/or activity of the beneficial organisms and suppressing potentially deleterious bacteria.
Currently, the most common prebiotics are nondigestible oligosaccharides, such as fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and inulin. Growth and viability of bifidobacteria in fermented milk can be enhanced sig-nificantly by the incorporation of FOS and galactooligosaccharides (GOS) in milk prior to fermentation. Honey contains a variety of oligosaccharides varying in their degree of polymerization. The unique composition of honey suggests that it could enhance the growth, activity and viability of bifidobacteria in milk and thus, fermented dairy products. To evaluate this hypothesis, the following study on growth-promoting and prebiotic activity of honey on bifidobacteria was conducted.

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