Bifidobacterium breve is best known for its probiotic benefits in babies and young children. Although it is found within the adult gut, populations are much higher in infants. In fact, B. breve was first isolated from breast-fed infant feces in 1990.
B. breve has an important role in the way infants break down breast milk. Breast milk contains Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMO), which are otherwise indigestible in humans. B. breve also helps to alleviate constipation in children, alongside Bifidobacterium bifidum and Lactobacillus acidophilus.
Foods containing B. breve include kombucha, water kefir, and raw sauerkraut.
For adults, one of the most important benefits of Bifidobacterium breve is its ability to improve skin health. A Japanese study found that fermented milk containing B. breve improved both the intestinal health and skin health in young female students. There was a significant difference between the group taking the probiotics and those who didn’t, particularly with regards to clear skin.
The researchers concluded that regular intake of probiotic milk could help to prevent skin dryness while also improving the gut function and elimination of toxins. Studies in mice have also shown that B. breve helps to prevent water loss and improve skin elasticity, while also reducing damage induced by chronic UV exposure.
Children especially may benefit from B. breve’s anti-allergy benefits. Supplementation to pre-term infants has been shown to trigger an anti-inflammatory response which can help to reduce allergic reactions later in life.
B. breve can also reduce hypersensitivity to cow’s milk and prevent atopic dermatitis reactions in infants. Yet another study reported that B. breve reduces the risk of children developing skin conditions such as eczema and atopic sensitization, particularly those who are already prone to allergies.
B. breve also helps to boost the immune system, helping to alleviate the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. It appears that regular supplementation of B. breve can help to suppress the body’s immune response, thus dampening allergic reactions.
This effect is particularly beneficial for those with asthma. B. breve can help to modulate the processes that lead to allergy-related asthma attacks, as well as reducing inflammation of the airways. It may be even more effective when combined with certain fructooligosaccharides.
Another major benefit of B. breve is its ability to combat obesity. One study found that supplementation can significantly reduce the fat mass in adults prone to obesity. Other research suggests it can help to improve serum levels of total cholesterol, fasting glucose and insulin.
Like many probiotics, B. breve is beneficial in reducing constipation and diarrhea, especially in children. It helps to alleviate abdominal pain and boost stool frequency in children with functional constipation. When combined with Streptococcus thermophilus, it can also reduce the severity of acute diarrheain young children, which in turn reduces the risk of dehydration.
Bifidobacterium breve is also helpful to young children of low birth weight, helping to promote the colonization of healthy Bifidobacteria and allow normal intestinal flora to flourish. This has the added bonus of improving infants’ weight gain.