Bifidobacterium is a genus of gram-positive, nonmotile, often branched anaerobic bacteria. Members of the genus Bifidobacterium are among the first microbes to colonize the human gastrointestinal tract and are believed to exert positive health benefits on their host.
Different strains of Bifidobacteria may exert a range of beneficial health effects, including the regulation of intestinal microbial homeostasis, the inhibition of pathogens and harmful bacteria that colonize or infect the gut mucosa, the modulation of local and systemic immune responses, the production of vitamins, and the bioconversion of many dietary compounds into bioactive molecules.
As probiotic agents, Bifidobacteria have been studied for their efficacy in the prevention and treatment of a broad spectrum of animal and human gastrointestinal disorders, such as colonic transit disorders, intestinal infections, and colonic adenomas and cancer. Due to their purported health-promoting properties, Bifidobacteria have been incorporated into many functional foods as active ingredients.