There are various types of bacteria that live within the human intestinal tract, some of which have a mutually beneficial relationship with us, their host. These bacteria that have a positive influence within the gastrointestinal system are called probiotics.
One of those probiotics found to have a multitude of health benefits was first discovered in human infants and is called bifidobacterium breve.
What is bifidobacterium breve?
Bifidobacterium breve, or B. breve for short, is a helpful bacteria found in the human body within the gastrointestinal tracts of infants and adult humans, as well as in breast milk.
There is still much to be learned about this this healthy probiotic, but findings up until this point have been numerous and positive.
There is preliminary evidence of a variety of health benefits of bifidobacterium breve. Those benefits include:
Fights Against Weight Gain/Obesity
- In a study on adults with a tendency towards obesity, subjects experienced a significantly lowered fat mass compared to the control group, showing that bifidobacterium breve could be used in the treatment of metabolic disorders. 
- Additionally, anti-obesity effects were found in mice that were administered a high-fat obesity-induced diet.
- A study in rats indicates that bifidobacterium breve led to less excessive lipids being absorbed into the body.
Improves and protects the health and appearance of skin
- There is evidence that bifidobacterium breve improves skin hydration and clearness.
- Bifidobacterium breve appears to counteract the harmful effects of UV rays. It also helps with keeping the skin hydrated and maintaining its elasticity, as shown in scientific studies with mice as subjects.
Alleviation of Allergies
- In preterm infants, bifidobacterium breve was shown to reduce allergic reactions.
- Many humans of all ages experience a hypersensitivity to cow’s milk, resulting in conditions such as eczema. Bifidobacterium was shown to reduce this form of atopic dermatitis in infants.
- It also reduced the risk of developing eczema in infants who were at high-risk of the condition.
- A study on newborn mice showed that it markedly reduced symptoms of allergic rhinitis through oral ingestion.
Alleviation of Constipation
- In children with chronic constipation issues, bifidobacterium breve was effective in increasing bowel movements and significantly decreased episodes of abdominal pain.
- In infants who consumed formula made with bifidobacterium breve had less incidents of dehydration, less diarrhea and they had fewer overall medical consultations, leading researchers to believe bifidobacterium breve could be effective in treating diarrhea in otherwise healthy infants.
- It was effective in reducing the frequency and severity of diarrhea in rats afflicted with the rotavirus infection, the most common cause of diarrhea.
- Along with providing treatment for rotavirus-induced diarrhea, bifidobacterium breve was also observed to prevent the virus.
Combats the harmful effects of asthma
- A beneficial immunomodulatory relationship was observed when bifidobacterium was administered to allergic asthmatics.
- Conclusions from a study done on asthmatic mice revealed that bifidobacterium breve could have serious positive implications for the treatment of asthma, a condition estimated to affect some 300 million people worldwide.
- Bifidobacterium breve also was shown to have a mitigating effect on allergic airway inflammation in mice suffering from dust mite-induced asthma.
- Bifidobacterium breve suppressed pulmonary inflammation in mice with asthma as well.
Bifidobacterium breve appears to improve overall health of the GI Tract
- Bifidobacterium breve was found to help with weight gain in very low birthweight infants, most likely through the stabilization of intestinal flora.
Bifidobacterium breve was effective in reducing inflammation in children with celiac disease.*
- It can help in the prevention of the influenza virus.
- Bifidobacterium breve may “induce protection against various virus infections”.
- Two separate studies showed that bifidobacterium breve improved intestinal environments for infants undergoing surgery.
Protects against yeast infections
Bifidobacterium breve suppresses overgrowth of the yeast candida, the yeast that can lead to yeast infections and other negative symptoms. Candida is found naturally within the human body but when it overpopulates it can be the cause of many problems.
How can you get more bifidobacterium breve in your diet?
- Dairy products like yogurt: yogurt naturally contains some probiotics, but due to modern day manufacturing and pasteurization processes, the cultures don’t always survive. Some yogurt companies add bifidobacterium in post-processing, but if you want to get this probiotic from yogurt, you must check the label to confirm that it was added and is of sufficient amount to have the intended benefits.
- Baby formula: some formula manufacturers add bifidobacterium to their products in order to make it as close as possible to a mother’s breast milk. The studies on the direct effects of probiotics via formula for infants have not reached conclusive evidence but the addition of probiotics to formula has been proven safe. Formula made with probiotics has been shown to alleviate the symptoms of food-related allergies and asthma and aids in the prevention of urinary tract infections and eczema in infants for the duration of consumption.
- Probiotic Supplements
The most realistic way to get the benefits of this probiotic is through taking supplements on a regular basis. Probiotic supplements are a great way to increase your overall health. With probiotics you can avoid sickness and feel good, which as we all know leads to a more content and fulfilling life.
However, you get the most out of probiotic supplements when they contain a robust mix of the most important probiotics, and this can’t be said for all the options on the market. Many probiotic supplements don’t have bifidobacterium breve included, so if you want or need one or more of the health benefits outlined above, you have to take that into consideration.
Given that not all probiotic supplements are created equally, it’s best to check the label to ensure that bifidobacterium was included in the ingredients (and also given that this does not constitute as medical advice it’s best to check with your doctor to confirm that this would be a proper addition to your diet for your specific health condition).
Additional Recommendations on Choosing Your Probiotics
- Probiotic strains included in the product
- As you most likely know, bifidobacterium is not the only probiotic out there. There are several other probiotic strains that serve different functions than bifidobacterium breve. Some of the more essential probiotics include: lactobacillus acidophilus, bifidobacterium bifidum, bifidobacterium longum, lactobacillus fermentum, and lactobacillus rhamnosus.
- The way a manufacturer packages its probiotics is important because if the bacteria don’t survive the journey from manufacturing plant to, well… your gut, it won’t do you much use. Probiotic supplements delivered in controlled-release tablets have the highest chance of survival. It also should be noted that probiotic bacteria need to be shielded to whatever extent possible to sources of light, heat and moisture.
- Number of Organisms
- Good probiotic supplement companies will list the number of organisms their product contains, the dosage amount, and how often you should take it. A good measure to go by is 5-billion colony-forming units.
- Expiration Date
- Be suspicious of any supplement brand that doesn’t list an expiration date on their product and check for it on any probiotics that you purchase.
Side Effects of Bifidobacterium Breve
According to WebMD, for those with a weakened immune system it may be best to avoid use of probiotics unless advised otherwise by a doctor because it’s thought that the bacterium can grow too well within a compromised immune system. However, this is an appraisal held in regards to probiotics more broadly, and not specifically bifidobacterium breve. Overall, bifidobacterium is believed to be safe for adults and children alike when ingested orally. In some people, this strain of probiotic may upset the stomach.
Want to learn more? Take a look at some of these additional resources:Show Sources
- “Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, 6th Edition,” published in 2015 by the American Academy of Pediatrics