Five tips on digestive health

Your immunity may not be as strong as you think
These days, catching a cold can sometimes be unavoidable. And we all need to work harder to make sure we’re staying ahead of the curve and self-isolating when appropriate. With the Winter season upon us, we often turn to antibiotics when things get worse. But a little known fact is that antibiotics wipe out all bacteria, including the good ones known as probiotics, such as lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.

Probiotics are known to help and there are well over 400 probiotic strains in our bodies. Although people often think of bacteria and other microorganisms as harmful “germs,” many are actually helpful – particularly when it comes to digesting food, destroying disease-causing cells, or producing vitamins.

“Staying healthy during COVID-19 is so important and there are often little things you could do proactively to look after your gut health and help give your immune system a lift,” said Meluka Australia CEO Ben Rohr.

“If you’ve recently taken antibiotics, it’s important to make sure you get your gut health back to shape, and probiotics can be the answer.”

Enzymes do all the heavy lifting
When it comes down to it, enzymes play an incredibly important role in keeping you safe and healthy. They are located in your digestive system and are what separate food into the different nutrients that your body needs.

“Most Aussies underestimate the pivotal role that enzymes play in preserving our gut health. When you are first born, you don’t have any of the healthy bacteria your system needs to digest food,” said Rohr.

“As we get older, our enzymes weaken, the muscles in the digestive tract become stiffer, and it makes it harder for the body to keep storing healthy bacteria. But not all bacteria is bad for you, particularly when it comes to maintaining a healthy and balanced gut microbiome.”

Antioxidant food and drinks are the way to go
Foods like honey, nuts, seeds and berries contain a type of antioxidant called polyphenols, which act as a fuel for microbes that help with digestion. You’ve probably heard of antioxidants before, but they are essentially substances that help slow down or prevent damage to cells caused by oxidation.

Avoid dodgy additives
We’ve all been warned for decades about the dangers of additives like artificial sweeteners, but you may not know why. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame (found in soft drinks) and sucralose (sugar substitute) can disrupt metabolism, reduce gut diversity and can often lead to problems later in life such as diabetes.

“It’s also wise to avoid processed foods where possible, and consume a range of different food types instead,” said Rohr. “Food and vitamin supplements are often not what they’re cracked up to be either, as only a small portion of these are beneficial.”

Go to the countryside and spend more time with man’s best friend
Some studies claim that pet owners have a more diverse microbiome, while those living in rural areas were also shown to have more microbial diversity. Studies have also shown that small quantities of alcohol can increase microbe diversity, but with all vices, it’s important not to indulge too much, as large quantities of alcohol can be harmful to your gut health.


Connect Foods releases probiotic food range

The Connect Foods probiotic range contains the market leading shelf-stable probiotic, GanedenBC30 (BC30) that can survive freezing and boiling, making it an ideal addition for cooking, baking and roasting.

Barak Begleiter and Tony Pountney, co-directors, Connect Foods: “We started Connect Foods to make healthy food accessible, affordable and most importantly delicious. With developments in probiotic technology and also the increasing awareness of the benefits of probiotics we have focused on developing products that allow consumers to get their daily dose of gut-healthy probiotics in their everyday foods.”

“We are so excited to be able to introduce several new and innovative products to the market that will allow people to incorporate probiotics in their diets without having to sacrifice on taste and without having to break the bank.”

The probiotic used in the range is GanedenBC30. The strain has multiple clinical studies supporting the digestive benefits of consuming this probiotic, including but not limited to supporting healthy digestion, immunity and protein utilisation.

The range is shelf-stable and can survive freezing and boiling, making the range incredibly versatile.”

DuPont enters collaboration on probiotics with By-Health in China

DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences has announced its intent to enter into a strategic collaboration with By-Health, a consumer health care company in China.

The strategic collaboration would focus on research and development of probiotic dietary supplements with “new functions, new ingredients and new technologies,” including joint research on intestinal microecology and the development of new probiotic dietary supplements and applications for use.

By-Health acquired Life-Space Group, an Australian probiotic enterprises, producing and marketing probiotic products for all life stages.

READ MORE: DuPont divests Natural Colors business to DDW

DuPont offers a range of clinically documented strains of probiotics under its DuPont Danisco portfolio to support digestive health, immune health, women’s health, oral health and more.

“At DuPont, we’re focussed on improving people’s everyday lives, and China is an important consumer market. With our expertise within probiotics and microbiome science, we’re delighted to partner with one of the leading consumer health care companies in Asia Pacific to develop new probiotics-based products to satisfy consumers’ growing demand for natural health and wellness solutions,” said Anders Grøn, DuPont vice presidentand global business director – Probiotics, HMOs, & Fibers.

Eurofins helps identify inaccuracies in probiotic labelling with DuPont assays

DuPont Nutrition and Health and Eurofins have made headway in probiotic testing by developing strain-level identification assays.

They are leading the way for industry-wide product integrity and label accuracy by using new technology to improve methods of strain identification.

Eurofins will employ DuPont’s polymerase-chain-reaction genotyping assays to identify probiotics at the strain level in both raw materials and finished products.

Several studies have found inaccuracies in probiotic labelling, including incorrect taxonomy, missing species and unlabelled species.

Wesley Morovic, scientist in the genomics and microbiome science group at DuPont, said the findings emphasise the necessity of reliable methods to determine the taxonomy of microbial populations in probiotic products.

“Because strain identification has not historically been required, little investment has been made to support the industry in doing so. DuPont is one of few manufacturers to share its genetic identification methods with customers and the public,” Morovic said.

DuPont is leading the industry toward label traceability by making its polymerase-chain-reaction genotyping available and working with Eurofins to develop accurate tests.

Eurofins business development manager Mehgan Styke said, “Many manufacturers understand that verifying raw materials and identifying finished products is as important as quantifying potency, for both label compliance and manufacturer confidence.”

“Until now, the tools for specific and accurate identification were either inaccessible or had yet to be developed; adding to the challenge are the nuances of probiotic products,” Styke said.

“With DuPont’s strain assays, Eurofins has become the first third-party laboratory to support identification to strain level, completing our portfolio of accurate testing for full label verification of potency, stability and identification.”

DuPont probiotics global marketing manager Megan DeStefano said the goal was to use science-driven solutions to bring a higher level of transparency to the probiotics market.

“We have worked closely with Eurofins to develop this service and are fully confident in their capabilities.”

Eurofins AgBio president Michael Drozd said these methods were at a cost and efficiency in line with the current less accurate and less specific methods.

“We are excited to leverage the collective knowledge of DuPont and Eurofins BioDiagnostics to bring the industry to a higher level of transparency.”


Japanese milk company immunogenic breakthrough

Morinaga Milk Industry has announced it has attained self-affirmed GRAS (generally recognised as safe) status in the United States for LAC-Shield, a unique immunogenic ingredient. This development opens the door for manufacturers of dietary supplements, functional foods and beverages in the US to include LAC-ShieldTM in products designed to enhance immune function.

Thanks to mounting research demonstrating the positive health benefits of probiotics, the probiotics market has experienced explosive growth over the past decade. In fact, according to Nutrition Business Journal, probiotics posted 17 per cent year-over-year growth from 2015 to 2016 in the US — the highest of any supplement category. BCC Research predicts the global market will grow to US$50b (A$67.3b) in 2020, as people’s awareness of and interest in healthful products continues to increase. However, the market is evolving beyond conventional probiotics to include metabolites of probiotics and non-viable microbes — called “immunogenics” or “immunobiotics.”

LAC-Shield (Lactobacillus paracasei MCC1849), widely recognised in Japan for its ability to enhance immunity, is one such ingredient. Unlike live cultures, LAC-Shield is rendered non-viable by heat treatment. Yet LAC-Shield still induces the production of a cytokine which activates and stimulates immune function.

LAC-Shield’s immune-boosting power was recently demonstrated in a human clinical study Morinaga Milk conducted with Kyushu Women’s University, which found it can lower the risk of contracting the common cold in susceptible subjects (Murata et al., Benef Microbes. 2018, in press). Another human clinical study, reported by Maruyama et al. (Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2016), found LAC-Shield may enhance the immune responses of the flu vaccine in the elderly with immunosenescence.

One of the most noteworthy aspects of LAC-Shield is the diversity of its potential applications. Usually, probiotics are difficult to incorporate into functional foods and beverages because of their intolerance of high temperatures and moisture. However, since LAC-Shield is pasteurised, it is highly tolerant of high heat and humidity, making it easy for manufacturers to incorporate it into a wide variety of products.

“In recent years, people have been demanding additional value and health benefits from the foods they consume. LAC-Shield has excellent potential to respond to those needs in the global market,” said Ko Shiino, general manager of the International Division at Morinaga Milk. “Achieving GRAS status enables LAC-Shield to be included in a wide variety of functional foods and beverages. We will continue our efforts to gain GRAS status for other probiotics in our portfolio so that we can contribute to healthier and brighter futures of people throughout the world.”

Morinaga Milk has a solid track record with GRAS ingredients. It attained GRAS status for its flagship probiotic Bifidobacterium longum BB536 (GRAS Notice No. GRN 000268) in 2007 and for Bifidobacterium breve M-16V (GRAS Notice No. GRN 000453 and GRN 000454) in 2013. BB536 is well-known for its stability, quality and wide-ranging functional effects, as shown by 160 scientific reports, including numerous clinical studies. M-16V is well-known for its strong safety profile and its efficacy in infants, having been used in more than 120 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) hospitals in Japan for low-birth-weight infants to support healthy growth. As a result, Morinaga Milk attained not only FDA-notified GRAS status for M-16V, but also GRAS status for infants.

Probiotic dairy products for children

The market for children’s products is increasing rapidly with the trend towards smaller families, combined with higher disposable incomes, and parents are looking for foods that are healthy as well as tasty and convenient. At the same time, the awareness of probiotics – good bacteria – is increasing, as more and more scientific data on the correlation between digestive health and overall health is published, creating new opportunities for the innovative dairy producer.

Since Chr. Hansen acquired the world’s best documented probiotic strain named LGG a year ago, its expert scientists have spent time on integrating the unique strain into its large collection of dairy cultures, identifying the best matches and looking into new product ideas to benefit the global dairy industry and consumers worldwide.

Now they are proud to present ProKids, a concept solution for a tasty probiotic children’s drinking yogurt. It is Chr. Hansen’s newly developed freeze-dried DVS culture, nu-trish GY-1, which contains the LGG probiotic strain together with a compatible yogurt culture, and a proven recipe that make up the backbone of the ProKids concept.

Filling a hole in the market

“We have brought out the best of the LGG probiotic strain by combining it with a carefully compounded yogurt culture. The result is a very mild, tasty yogurt drink with a high cell count of live probiotic bacteria that will appeal to young taste buds and health conscious parents,” said Dorte Eskesen, Global Marketing Manager Fresh Dairy.

“With the ProKids concept, which is available worldwide and can be merged into the dairy’s own brand portfolio, we are filling a hole in the dairy market. We believe there is an untapped potential for functional dairy products specifically for children. The LGG strain has been studied in more than 300 clinical studies and described in more than 1100 scientific publications. A strong research focus on children and their health makes the LGG probiotic strain the natural choice for a kid’s product.”

Renewed awareness and perception of probiotics

“We like to see ourselves as drivers of innovation in the dairy industry and with this concept we believe to have a created a new opportunity in the dairy market at a time when the relationship between our gut flora and general health is resonating with more and more health conscious consumers and renewing the awareness and perception of probiotics,” said Eskesen.

“We are proud to have thoroughly studied and integrated the probiotic strain LGG into our culture collection, which holds more than 30,000 strains and keeps growing. We believe that there are vast opportunities for the LGG brand going forward considering Chr. Hansen’s wide geographic reach and deep technical knowledge and look forward to bringing other exciting concepts to the market in due course,” said Lars Bredmose, Senior Director, Fresh Dairy.

Beer that boosts immunity and improves gut health

Beer lovers may soon have a gut-friendly drink to raise a toast to, thanks to the creation of a novel probiotic sour beer by a team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS). This new specialty beer incorporates the probiotic strain Lactobacillus paracasei L26, which was first isolated from human intestines and has the ability to neutralise toxins and viruses, as well as regulate the immune system.

The idea of producing a probiotic beer was first mooted by Miss Chan Mei Zhi Alcine, a fourth-year student from the Food Science and Technology Programme under the NUS Faculty of Science, who consumes dairy-based probiotic beverages daily.

“The health benefits of probiotics are well known. While good bacteria are often present in food that have been fermented, there are currently no beers in the market that contain probiotics. Developing sufficient counts of live probiotics in beer is a challenging feat as beers contain hop acids that prevent the growth and survival of probiotics. As a believer of achieving a healthy diet through consuming probiotics, this is a natural choice for me when I picked a topic for my final-year project,” said Miss Chan, who will be graduating with a Bachelor of Applied Science with Honours (Highest Distinction) from NUS in July 2017.

Infusing beer with health benefits

Studies have shown that consuming food and beverages with live counts of probiotics are more effective in delivering health effects than eating those with inactive probiotics. Currently, the recommendation by the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics is to have a minimum of 1 billion probiotics per serving in order to attain the maximum health benefits.

Under the supervision of Associate Professor Liu Shao Quan from the NUS Food Science and Technology Programme, Miss Chan took about nine months to come up with an ideal recipe that achieves the optimal count of live probiotics in the beer.

By propagating the probiotic and yeast in pure cultures, and modifying conventional brewing and fermentation processes, Miss Chan managed to increase and maintain the live counts of the strain of probiotic. “For this beer, we used a lactic acid bacterium as a probiotic micro-organism. It will utilise sugars present in the wort to produce sour-tasting lactic acid, resulting in a beer with sharp and tart flavours. The final product, which takes around a month to brew, has an alcohol content of about 3.5 per cent,” explained Miss Chan. The NUS research team has filed a patent to protect the recipe for brewing the probiotic sour beer.

Assoc Prof Liu said, “The general health benefits associated with consuming food and beverages with probiotic strains have driven demand dramatically. In recent years, consumption of craft or specialty beers has gained popularity too. Alcine’s invention is placed in a unique position that caters to these two trends. I am confident that the probiotic gut-friendly beer will be well-received by beer drinkers, as they can now enjoy their beers and be healthy.”

Looking ahead, Assoc Prof Liu and Miss Chan are keen to collaborate with industry partners to introduce the beer to consumers.

Chr. Hansen expands strain library for next generation probiotics

Research on the human microbiome has exploded in recent years revealing it to be of major importance for human health and disease, creating opportunities for development of next generation probiotics. That is why Chr. Hansen has now expanded its strain library of potential microbiome modulating strains.

“As part of its Nature’s No. 1 strategy Chr. Hansen has a strategic focus on the human microbiome. We can announce that we are making significant progress in this area. From over 1000 recently screened strains from the human microbiome, we have identified a subset of 100 that can be developed for a broad array of health indications associated with gastrointestinal, immune and metabolic health,” explains Johan van Hylckama Vlieg, VP Microbiome and Human Health Innovation.

Adding a well-documented collection of novel strains from microbiome species, such as Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Eubacterium hallii that are widely regarded as primary candidates for next generation probiotics is a major milestone.

These strains will be used both for Chr. Hansen’s internal innovation efforts, and made available to external partners and customers looking to accelerate development of next generation probiotics.

Solving safety and industrialization challenges

 Developing microbiome strains as next generation probiotics for Food, Supplement, Infant and Pharma applications, presents unique challenges. Many of the relevant species have no history of commercialization. They were until recently described as difficult to cultivate and require radically new techniques for cultivation and production.

The strains in the Chr. Hansen strain collection have passed rigorous safety assessments and are amendable for production and formulation into products in an industrial setting.

“Our safety assessment includes screening for absence of antibiotic resistance and virulence factors. We also looked for their ability to grow in industrial media and sensitivity to oxygen. And we also screened for the ability of strains to impact the immune system,” explains Gemma Henderson, Senior Scientist.

Academic partnerships

The work has been carried out in partnership between Chr. Hansen and three academic institutes – Gut Health, The Rowett Institute, University of Aberdeen; Host-Microbe Interactomics, Wageningen University and Research; and Medical Microbiology, UMCG, University of Groningen.

“Now we have a shortlisted selection of strains that we believe will be of major interest to innovators in the microbiome space, who are looking to develop next generation of probiotics and live biotherapeutics. It is our goal to help our customers and partners move these new documented strains from the lab to the clinic,” concludes Gemma.

Microbiome Discovery & Development Congress

 At the Microbiome Discovery & Development Congress in Berlin this week novel strategies in microbiome research, the challenges of commercializing the microbiome and the latest therapeutic trends will be discussed.

Providing more insights into the approach taken to create Chr. Hansen’s expanded strain library, Johan will present a keynote lecture entitled Mining human gut microbial strain collections for next generation probiotics.

Nestle study shows probiotics foods to assist the immune system

A new study published by Nestle in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology has shown that heat-treated probiotics can act on cells to provide a balance for the immune system.

Probiotics are bacteria that are essential for human immune health, but they are mainly used in foods in a live form. Heat-treating probiotics remove the ability to replicate, a move which could help researchers develop more effective probiotic products such as infant formulas and drinks, with a longer shelf life.

The study explores how live and heat-treated forms of the probiotic affect immune cells through environmental factors.

Lead researcher Dr Carine Blanchard, from the Nestle Research Centre says a probiotic strain can deliver immunity benefits when heat-treated and existing in a neutral state.

“We tested several strains and actually when you heat treat stains for a lot of them the pro-inflammatory signalling goes down…and IL-10 production increases so they move toward a more immune-regulatory profile, so you can change the way probiotic influences the immune system,” Blanchard said.

Researchers found that both forms of the probiotic led to a greater production of interleukin-10 (IL-10), a protein that is vital for immune health in humans, but that the heat-treated probiotic was more effective.