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Health News Archive 438 - Intestinal Microflora
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Soy Isoflavones Enhance Intestinal Microflora

Soy isoflavone supplementation may stimulate the growth of specific subgroups of intestinal flora, according to a new study described as "the first human study that shows changes in the diversity and composition of dominant bacterial communities in response to dietary supplementation with hormone-related compounds combined with functional foods."

Inside each of us is a vast ecosystem, as complex as the soil or the oceans, that helps us digest food and contributes to our health and well-being.  Gene experts after studying the DNA of hundreds of different kinds of bacteria in the human intestines have reached the conclusion that the human race survives, even thrives, with the help of millions of bacteria within our bodies. Reporting in Science, researchers say that the thriving microbiologic community in adults consists of up to 100 trillion bacteria, representing more than 1,000 different species.

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study coordinated through the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique in France and the Germany Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke, 39 postmenopausal women received isoflavone supplementation with or without a probiotic and prebiotic for two months.  Isoflavones alone stimulated growth of microorganisms in the Clostridium coccoides-Eubacterium rectale cluster, Lactobacillus-Enterococcus group, Faecalibacterium prousnitzii subgroup, and Bifidobacterium genus.  The effect of increasing species diversity was observed to be long-lasting, particularly with Bifidobacterium.

Source: Clavel T, Fallani M, Lepage P, Levenez F, Mathey J, Rochet V, Serezat M, Sutren M, Henderson G, Bennetau-Pelissero C, Tondu F, Blaut M, Done J, Coxam V. Isoflavones and functional foods alter the dominant intestinal microbiota in postmenopausal women. J. Nutr. 135:2786-2792, December 2005.

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