Probiotics’ anti-inflammatory effects could improve livestock intestinal health

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Probiotics are good for human health, especially your digestive system, but did you know that probiotics can benefit the health of livestock animals? According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) research, probiotics, live microorganisms, or "good bacteria," could be used to improve intestinal health and prevent gut-associated diseases in poultry and swine.

"When combined with dietary fibre from barley, oats, rye and soy, probiotics could provide options for developing natural alternatives to conventional antibiotics for livestock," says AAFC research scientist, Dr. Magdalena Kostrzynska of the Guelph Research and Development Centre (GRDC).

She is studying the role probiotics play in both reducing inflammation and improving gut microflora in livestock and humans. This discovery could have beneficial applications in the livestock industry as producers look for alternatives to antibiotics in the management of intestinal diseases caused by food-borne pathogens.

Dr. Kostrzynska, along with her former AAFC colleague Dr. Susan Tosh, studied the anti-inflammatory effects of probiotics in combination with dietary fibre using a cell culture method. Results showed that probiotics consumed with fibre can re-populate the gut with beneficial microbiota, as well as reduce inflammation and restore the gut mucus lining. Dietary fibre combined with probiotics that can reach the lower digestive tract, helps promote the growth of these beneficial bacteria. For livestock like poultry and swine this means healthier growth and reduction in the use of antibiotics. Traditionally, antibiotics have been used to kill pathogenic bacteria, reduce inflammation and promote growth.

"When combined with dietary fibre from barley, oats, rye and soy, probiotics could provide options for developing natural alternatives to conventional antibiotics for livestock."

- Dr. Magdalena Kostrzynska, Research Scientist, Guelph Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Dr. Kostrzynska’s research on probiotics spans over a decade and in the future she plans to further investigate the health benefits of probiotics for both livestock and humans.

Key discoveries (benefits)

Probiotics when combined with dietary fibre:

  • Promote growth in livestock
  • Reduce the use of antibiotics for livestock
  • Reduce inflammation and restore gut mucus lining

Photo gallery


Dr. Magdalena Kostrzynska, AAFC research scientist, shows the food-borne pathogen E. coli.

Free range chickens.

Dr. Magdalena Kostrzynska, stands in front of a poster showcasing her research.

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