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Bifidobacterium spp. as functional foods: A review of current status, challenges, and strategies

  • 2022-03-23
  • Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 63(26)
    • Baolin He
    • Yong Xiong
    • Teng-gen Hu
    • Min-hua Zong
    • Hong Wu


Members of Bifidobacterium are among the first microbes to colonize the human intestine naturally, their abundance and diversity in the colon are closely related to host health. Recently, the gut microbiota has been gradually proven to be crucial mediators of various metabolic processes between the external environment and the host. Therefore, the health-promoting benefits of Bifidobacterium spp. and their applications in food have gradually been widely concerned. The main purpose of this review is to comprehensively introduce general features, colonization methods, and safety of Bifidobacterium spp. in the human gut, highlighting its health benefits and industrial applications. On this basis, the existing limitations and scope for future research are also discussed. Bifidobacteria have beneficial effects on the host's digestive system, immune system, and nervous system. However, the first prerequisite for functioning is to have enough live bacteria before consumption and successfully colonize the colon after ingestion. At present, strain breeding, optimization (e.g., selecting acid and bile resistant strains, adaptive evolution, high cell density culture), and external protection technology (e.g., microencapsulation and protectants) are the main strategies to address these challenges in food application.

Keywords: Bifidobacterium spp.; adaptive evolution; health benefits; industrial application; microencapsulation.

Research Insights

SupplementHealth OutcomeEffect TypeEffect Size
BifidobacteriumEnhanced Immune FunctionBeneficial
BifidobacteriumImproved Digestive FunctionBeneficial
BifidobacteriumNervous System Dysfunction in HostBeneficial

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