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Last updateTue, 27 Sep 2022 11am

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Scientists obtain three bacterial strains that improve isoflavones assimilation

The CSIC has isolated and patented three bacterial strains that can grow in soymilk and improve the isoflavones bioavailability.

The three strains are resistant to acids and bile salts so they are highly suitable as probiotics. Furthermore, they have been tested for acidifying and fermenting soymilk, producing a product (pictured) with a viscosity similar to yogurt. Isoflavones, which naturally occur in food, mainly in soybeans, are vegetal molecules which can have estrogenic and protective activity in the body. Nevertheless, isoflavones are not similarly absorbed by everybody.

Isoflavones are naturally bound to sugar molecules (glucoside). For the body to absorb the isoflavones, it is necessary to break that bond and release the isoflavone from the sugar molecule.

Intestinal bacteria can do it, but not all of them will efficiently do it, as diversity of gut flora is as high as people diversity. That’s why the amount of isoflavones absorbed by every person is different.

Also, proportion between active and nonactive compounds generated from isoflavones depends on the gut flora, on the bacterial species and strains that each one has. Only about 30-50% of people can transform isoflavones into Equol, the active compound considered to have more beneficial effects. And about 90% of people generate nonactive compounds from isoflavones.

A Spanish team led by Baltasar Mayo, CSIC scientist at the Instituto de Productos Lácteos in Asturias, has identified and isolated three bacterial strains from the gut biota. These strains are highly efficient breaking the bond between isoflavones and sugar molecules.

The strains are Lactobacillus plantarum E112, L. casei BA3 and L. rhamnosus G92. Experiments with bacterial cultures and with soymilk have shown that two of the isolated strains are able to release the isoflavone from the sugar molecule up to 95% efficiency. This would highly increase the isoflavones bioavailability.

Isoflavones activation could increase the production of active compound such as equol, the most powerful estrogenic and antioxidant metabolite, with the highest anti-androgenic effect.

As the strains are compatible with traditional ferments used for yogurt, scientists are planning to use them in order to produce functional food products for improving isoflavones absorption. Also, because these strains are resistant to intestinal acids and bile salts, they could be used as probiotics.

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