The effects of probiotic bacteria on glycaemic control in overweight men and women: a randomised controlled trial

K L Ivey, J M Hodgson, D A Kerr, J R Lewis, P L Thompson, R L Prince
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2014, 68 (4): 447-52

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Evidence from animal and in vitro models suggest a role of probiotic bacteria in improving glycaemic control and delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes. However, the evidence from controlled trials in humans is limited. The objective was to determine if the probiotic bacteria L. acidophilus La5 and B. animalis subsp lactis Bb12, supplemented in a whole food (yoghurt) or isolated (capsules) form, can improve biomarkers of glycaemic control.

SUBJECTS/METHODS: Following a 3-week washout period, 156 overweight men and women over 55 years (mean age: 67 ± 8 years; mean body mass index (31 ± 4 kg/m(2)) were randomized to a 6-week double-blinded parallel study. The four intervention groups were: (A) probiotic yoghurt plus probiotic capsules; (B) probiotic yoghurt plus placebo capsules; (C) control milk plus probiotic capsules; and (D) control milk plus placebo capsules. Outcome measurements, including fasting glucose, insulin, glycated haemoglobin and Homoeostasis Model Assessment of Insulin Resistance (HOMA-IR), were performed at baseline and week 6.

RESULTS: Relative to the milk-control group, probiotic yoghurt resulted in a significantly higher HOMA-IR (0.32 ± 0.15, P=0.038), but did not have a significant effect on the other three measures of glycaemic control (P>0.05). Relative to placebo capsules, probiotic capsules resulted in a significantly higher fasting glucose (0.15 ± 0.07 mmol/l, P=0.037), with no significant effect on the other three measures of glycaemic control (P>0.05). Further analyses did not identify other variables as contributing to these adverse findings.

CONCLUSIONS: Data from this study does not support the hypothesis that L. acidophilus La5 and B. animalis subsp lactis Bb12, either in isolated form or as part of a whole food, benefit short-term glycaemic control. Indeed, there is weak data for an adverse effect of these strains on glucose homoeostasis.

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