Varsity Develops Probiotics Fermented Food “Ugba” to Boost Immune System

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Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The Federal University, Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo (FUNAI) has developed African oil bean seed (Pentaclethra macrophylla) otherwise known as ‘Ugba’ to boost immune system in the body, and for children suffering from malnutrition.

Ugba, which has the power to produce probiotics substances that can improve some beneficial bacterial in the system, as well as decrease the numbers of the bacteria that are harmful to the body, after the seed is allowed to undergo fermentation before consumption.

An Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology, Dr. Moses Alo, who made this known at the 2018 Science, Technology and Innovation Expo explained that probiotics are foods and nutritional supplements that work by balancing the levels of microorganisms in the intestines and also reduce the numbers of harmful bacteria and also help to boost the immune system, adding that Ugba fits into that.

He said that probiotics that they could help prevent irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), infectious diarrhea (caused by viruses, bacteria or parasites) and also minimise the occurrence of bladder cancer.

He stressed further that probiotics could also help to reduce antibiotic-related diarrhea, hlpl improve skin conditions like eczema, urinary and vaginal health and prevent galleries, folds and improve health.

Alo explained that; “185 adult subjects comprising of 20 control and 165 test subjects were recruited for this study. Stool samples were collected on the first day and the baseline average bacteria count was obtained after culture using lactose broth, Elaine Methylene blue agar and Cddsoxycholate citrate agar. The test group subjects were fed with Ugba for 14 days and stool samples were collected at two-day interval for a total of 22 us and cultures on three media,

“There was an increase in the average bacteria counts from 1.5×103 and 1.8×103 for Bifidobacterium spp and Lactobacillus spp respectively to 3.6×105 and 3.5×105 for both organisms respectively on the 14th day when their diet was terminated, this fell to 1.7×105 2.5×105 for both organisms respectively. There was also reduction in the number of pathogenic bacteria in the subjects with pathogenic bacteria declining from 91 cfu at baseline to 22 CFU after 7 days of consistent consumption of fermented oil bean seeds,” he added.

Alo said the study revealed that constant intake of Ugba triggers an increase in growth and population of the probiotic bacteria Bifidonacterium spp and Lactobacillus spp.

He also revealed that the difference in the presence of pathogenic bacteria among the test subjects before and during the diet intake was statistically significant, and the difference in average colony of counts of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus spp at the baseline on the 14th day of intajpke of diet was also statistically significant.

Meanwhile, the Director, Research and Development, FUNAI, Prof. Onuegbu Ugwu said although the university is young, but it was determined to play a pivotal role in the world of research. We have picked our research strategies very purposely.

He said there was need for industry to come and play their part in research and development in the country, noting that the idea of university was to generate knowledge, while the industry should help to propel commercialisation of research findings.