KALLITHEA, GREECE — Consuming a cake with barley beta-glucan had prebiotic effects in people age 50 and over in a study that appeared on-line Jan. 28 in Food Research International.

Researchers from Harokopio University in Kallithea and TEI of Athens conducted a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical study that aimed to evaluate the in vivo prebiotic potential of barley beta-glucan. They randomly assigned 52 healthy volunteers aged 39 to 70 to consume daily a cake containing 0.75 grams of barley beta-glucan or a placebo for 30 days.

In subjects age 50 and older, barley beta-glucan induced a strong bifidogenic effect and an increase of bifidobacteria, which are examples of probiotics or healthy bacteria. The barley beta-glucan thus showed the traits of prebiotics, which stimulate the growth of probiotics. Ingestion of the food containing barley beta-glucan resulted in no undesirable gastrointestinal side effects in older subjects.