The-link-between-gut-and-brain-health

The Link between Gut and Brain Health

The Link between Gut and Brain Health

February 21st, 2022

The bidirectional communication system between your gut and brain is called the gut-brain axis. These two organs are connected through the vagus nerve, neurotransmitters, production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) by gut microbiota and the immune system. This gut-brain link works in both directions. Gut bacteria affect brain health and, therefore, altering your gut bacteria through compounds such as probiotics and prebiotics may improve your brain health.

The-link-between-gut-and-brain-health

The Gut-Brain Connection

Did you ever “go with the gut” to make a decision? Have you ever felt “butterflies in your stomach” when nervous? This is because the brain and the gastrointestinal system are closely connected.

The bidirectional communication system between your gut and brain is called the gut-brain axis. These two organs are connected both physically through the vagus nerve and biochemically through hormones and neurotransmitters.

Gut microbiota has an important impact on the gut-brain axis, interacting not only locally with intestinal cells and enteric nervous system (ENS), but also directly with the central nervous system (CNS).

The Vagus Nerve

Your gut contains 500 million neurons, connected to your brain through the nervous system [1].

One of the biggest nerves connecting your gut and brain is the vagus nerve, which sends signals both ways. Gut microbiota communication with the brain, therefore, involves the vagus nerve [2].

Conditions such as Chron’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) involve brain-gut dysfunctions where the vagus nerve is an important component.

People suffering from these conditions actually have a reduced vagal tone, which indicates a decreased function of the vagus nerve [3].

Neurotransmitters

Your gut and brain are also connected through neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters produced in the brain have an impact on our feelings and emotions.

Many of these neurotransmitters are produced by our gut cells and microbiota as well.

Around 90% of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of happiness, is produced by enterochromaffin cells, a group of gut mucosal cells [4].

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that helps control feelings of fear and anxiety, is also produced by many species of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium in the gut microbiota [5].

Production of SCFAs by gut microbiota

Gut microbiota produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), such as butyrate, propionate and acetate.

SCFAs can affect brain function in different ways. They are able to stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, mucosal serotonin release and influence the memory and learning process in the brain [6].

Immune system

Your gut and brain are also linked through the immune system. The microbiota provides essential signals for the development and function of the immune system.

The microbiota, its metabolites and components are not only necessary for immune homeostasis, but they also influence your susceptibility to many immune-mediated diseases and disorders [7].

If the gut barrier becomes leaky, bacteria and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) –an inflammatory toxin produced by some bacteria– can enter the blood, causing inflammation.

Inflammation and high LPS content in the blood are associated with brain disorders, such as depression and dementia [8].

The Role of Probiotics and Prebiotics in the Link between Gut and Brain

The gut-brain connection works in both directions. Gut bacteria affect brain health and, therefore, altering your gut bacteria may improve or worsen your brain health.

Probiotics are beneficial live bacteria. Psychobiotics are a class of probiotics that are able to produce and deliver neuroactive substances such as GABA and serotonin, which act on the brain-gut axis [9].

Studies have found that some psychobiotics have antidepressant or anxiolytic activity. These effects may be mediated via the vagus nerve, spinal cord, or neuroendocrine systems [10].

Prebiotics are compounds derived from non-digestible carbohydrates, mostly fibre. Prebiotics may also affect brain health by lowering cortisol levels, the stress hormone [11].

Beneficial Foods for the Gut-Brain Axis

Some foods can be beneficial for the gut-brain axis. These include the following:

• Probiotic foods. Probiotics can be found in fermented foods and drinks, such as yoghurt, kefir, tempeh or kombucha.

Prebiotic foods. Prebiotics can be found in high fibre foods, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and whole-grain products.

• Omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fatty acids can improve microbiota diversity [12]. These fats can be found in fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring and sardines.

• Polyphenol-rich foods. Polyphenols are found in foods such as cocoa, citrus, green tea, olive leaf and coffee. These compounds, digested by gut bacteria, increase healthy bacteria strains and may improve cognition [13].

• Tryptophan-rich foods. The amino acid tryptophan is the precursor of serotonin. Tryptophan is found in milk, cheese, oats, turkey and chicken, among others.


What are prebiotics

What are prebiotics? Types and health benefits

What are prebiotics? Types and health benefits

February 7th, 2022

Prebiotics are a big topic in nutrition these days. As with probiotics, their relationship with human health has gathered a lot of interest in recent years. Prebiotics are compounds derived from non-digestible carbohydrates that confer health benefits to the host by selectively stimulating the growth of intestinal bacteria.

What are prebiotics

What are prebiotics?

Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that confer health benefits to the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of a limited number of our intestinal bacteria [1].

Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), and trans-galacto-oligosaccharides (TOS) are the most common prebiotics.

Fermentation of prebiotics by gut microbiota produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), such as lactate, butyrate, and propionate. These products have multiple beneficial effects on the body, as SCFAs are small enough to enter blood circulation through gut cells.

The difference between probiotics and prebiotics is that, while probiotics are beneficial bacteria, prebiotics are the food for these bacteria. Both are important for human health, but they have different roles. Probiotics are live bacteria and prebiotics are compounds derived from non-digestible carbohydrates –mostly fibre.

What are the different types of prebiotics?

There are various types of prebiotics. These include:

• Fructans. In this category, we can find inulin and fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS). Several bacterial species can be promoted directly or indirectly by fructans.

• Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS). GOS can greatly stimulate Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, as well as Enterobacteria, Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes to a lesser extent [2].

• Hemicellulose-derived oligosaccharides. These are derived from hemicellulosic macromolecules such as arabinoxylans. Arabinoxylans have demonstrated to produce a strong prebiotic activity, in particular bifidogenic.

• Starch and glucose-derived oligosaccharides. Resistant starch, a type of starch resistant to the upper gut digestion, can stimulate the production of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) [3]. Polydextrose, a glucose-derived oligosaccharide, can also stimulate Bifidobacteria [4].

• Pectic oligosaccharides (POS). Some oligosaccharides come from a polysaccharide called pectin. This type of oligosaccharide is called pectic oligosaccharide (POS).

• Non-carbohydrate oligosaccharides. Although carbohydrates are more likely to meet the criteria to be considered prebiotics, there are other compounds not classified as carbohydrates, but that can be classified as prebiotics, such as some flavanols [5].

What are the health benefits of prebiotics?

Research shows that prebiotics have several health benefits. These include the following:

• Modulation of the microbiota. Prebiotics provide energy sources to gut microbiota. This way, they are able to modulate the function and composition of these microorganisms [6].

• Modulation of the immune system. SCFAs have multiple benefits in the immune system, such as increasing antibody responses toward viral vaccines, like influenza and measles [7].

• Prevention of colorectal cancer. Fermentation products of probiotics, such as butyrate, have protective effects against the risk of colorectal cancer [8, 9].

• Prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis. Prebiotics can prevent the development of this life-threatening disease in preterm infants [10].

• Decrease the risk of allergic skin diseases. Prebiotics decrease both the risk of development and the severity of atopic dermatitis [11, 12].

• Reduction of the risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Prebiotics are able to lower the risk of CVD by reducing the inflammatory elements, improving lipid profile [7].

• Increase in calcium absorption. Some prebiotics can help increase calcium absorption [13].

How can I add prebiotics to my diet?

Prebiotics play an important role in human health, so it is important to consume them. They can be found in foods that are high in fibre, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole-grain products. Foods that are high in prebiotic fibre include:

• Wheat
• Soybeans
• Oats
• Bananas
• Tomatoes
• Berries
• Asparagus
• Garlic
• Leeks
• Onions
• Chicory

Another option to increase prebiotic intake are supplements. They can be purchased in health food stores and online. They can be found in capsule form, in powder blends or even in bars.

Prebiotics are generally considered safe. They can have some minor side effects, such as diarrhea, bloating and flatulence. However, prebiotics’ chain length is the main parameter related to the development of these side effects.

Prebiotics with a shorter chain length have more side effects because they are fermented earlier and more rapidly, while longer chain prebiotics –such as arabinoxylans from wheat– are fermented later and slower.


Improving bone health during menopause with Bonolive

Improving Bone Health During Menopause With Bonolive®

Improving Bone Health During Menopause With Bonolive®

February 3rd, 2022

The menopause transition is a critical period for bone health in women. More than ever, to address this key health concern, consumers are shifting away from calcium-only products and seeking out more complex formulas with clinically-backed ingredients.
Bonolive® is a patented ingredient rich in olive polyphenols that offers the possibility of formulating innovative bone health solutions tailored to women to counteract bone loss risk associated with menopause.

Improving bone health during menopause with Bonolive

Menopause transition and bone health

Healthy bones are needed to support our body, providing structure, allowing us to move and protect our organs. They also store essential minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus, and release them into the blood whenever needed.

Bone health depends on a dynamic equilibrium maintained between the constant production of the new bone matrix via osteoblasts – the cells responsible for bone synthesis – and the resorption of old bone by osteoclast activity– the cells responsible for bone breakdown.

The menopause transition is the most critical period for bone health in women because this fine equilibrium is broken due to hormonal changes.

The onset of the rapid bone loss phase is due to the drastic drop in estrogen levels, which play an important role in maintaining bone strength. This can result in bone resorption exceeding bone formation, leading to thin, fragile bones subject to spontaneous fracture.

Rapid losses in bone mass and strength usually occur in the 3-year window since the date of the final menstrual period [1].

Decreased levels of estrogen cause osteoprotegerin levels to decline. Osteoprotegerin is a protein secreted by osteoblasts, which antagonises the process of bone breakdown mediated by osteoclasts.

Therefore, with the lowered estrogen levels associated with menopausal changes, osteoclast activity increases leading to decreased bone mass and, in many cases, osteoporosis. This results in reduced bone strength and increased risk of fractures.

Although it is essential to build strong and healthy bones during the early stages of our lives, there are also important factors to take care of during adulthood, particularly during menopause, such as sufficient physical activity, proper nutrition and supplementation.

Traditional bone health management

With the world population getting older, bone health issues are increasing. In postmenopausal women, the prevalence of osteoporosis and osteopenia is estimated to be almost 20% and 52%, respectively [2].

Bone health is indeed a key concern for this vulnerable group. This reflects that 25% of women who use dietary supplements are already consuming products to support their bones and there are different ingredients that can be consumed to support bone health.

Over the last decade, supplementation with calcium and vitamin D and exercise has been the most used measure for preventing bone loss during menopause.

It is known that a sufficient calcium intake contributes to an increased bone density and Vitamin D is crucial for bone health because it plays a crucial role in calcium absorption [3].

While this strategy has proven marginal improvements, consumers are becoming more demanding. In fact, the popularity of innovative, nutraceuticals with a clinical back-up addressing bone health is growing.

Scientific evidence has shown that bone physiology can be modulated by phenolic compounds found in olives.

These powerful antioxidant compounds can indeed stimulate markers involved in osteoblast proliferation, differentiation, and maturation, and ultimately lead to a counteracting effect against bone loss risk.

What is Bonolive® and how does it support healthy bones?

Bonolive® is a patented, olive-polyphenol-based ingredient researched and developed by BioActor, with demonstrated efficacy in increasing bone formation in postmenopausal women.

Bonolive® is standardised for highly bioavailable oleuropein, the powerful phytonutrient deemed responsible for the increase in the number and activity of osteoblasts observed during BioActor’s research.

The randomised, double-blind clinical trial demonstrated that an intake of 250mg/day of Bonolive® is sufficient to re-balance the bone turnover [4].

Additionally, after 12 months, a 32% increase in osteocalcin was observed in the treatment group, compared to a 6% decrease in the placebo group.

Osteocalcin is a key component for building new bone, as it forms the scaffold for new bone tissue and binds calcium within a rigid structure.

The increase in osteocalcin is also reflected by the DEXA scan results, which show that subjects taking Bonolive®, displayed protection of bone mineral density at the lumbar spine and a higher gain of bone mineral density at the femur neck, compared to those taking placebo.

Opportunities for new product development with Bonolive®

As consumers are shifting away from calcium-only products and seek out more complex formulas with clinically-backed ingredients, Bonolive® offers the possibility of developing innovative consumer products specifically crafted to help women support healthy bones during menopause.

For a synergistic effect, Bonolive® can be successfully combined with calcium, vitamin D and magnesium, as well as other vitamins, minerals and plant extracts.

This Mediterranean-inspired ingredient can be easily included in various dietary supplements, functional drinks and foods, with a daily dose of only 250mg.

Apart from innovative blends, further product development opportunities in this growing market lie in convenient formats like gummies and ready-to-drink beverages.


Not all arabinoxylans are the same

Not all Arabinoxylans are the same: let's find out the difference

Not all Arabinoxylans are the same: let’s find out the difference

January 21st, 2022

Arabinoxylans are soluble fibres extracted from cereal grains, such as the wheat endosperm. However, not all arabinoxylans share the same structure, which affects not only the physicochemical properties, but also their health benefits. They vary in the degree of polymerization, solubility, degree of substitution or presence of antioxidants, such as ferulic acid.

Not all arabinoxylans are the same

What are arabinoxylans?

Arabinoxylans are soluble fibres extractable from cereal grains. Arabinoxylans have been identified in all major cereal grains, including wheat, barley, oats, rye, rice, sorghum, maize, and millet. In cereal grains, arabinoxylans are localized mainly in the cell walls of starchy endosperm and the aleurone layer, in the bran tissues, and in the husk of some cereals.

Arabinoxylans can be used as a dietary supplement due to their beneficial effects on gut health, glycaemic control and immune health.

Moreover, due to the physicochemical and technological properties of these molecules (e.g. water-binding capacity, gelation), arabinoxylans can also be used as a baking additive to improve dough consistency, increase loaf volumes and improve crumb structure.

The general structure of arabinoxylans

Arabinoxylans are very long molecules consisting of a copolymer of two pentose sugars: arabinose and xylose. The general structure of arabinoxylans is formed by a backbone of xylose with arabinose residues attached to xylose units in different positions.

The relative amount and the sequence of distribution of these structural elements vary depending on the source of arabinoxylans. The majority of arabinose residues in arabinoxylans are present as monomeric substituents; however, a small proportion of oligomeric side chains consisting of two or more arabinose residues have been reported.

Therefore, although arabinoxylans share a common general structure, one important distinction between them is chain length. Chain length is an important feature, as it influences the industrial applications and health benefits of arabinoxylans. For instance, while arabinoxylans from wheat endosperm have an average chain length higher than 60, arabinoxylan-oligosaccharides (AXOS) extracted from wheat have an average chain length of 2–10.

On the other hand, the molecular structure of arabinoxylans from rice, sorghum, finger millet, and maize bran is slightly different than the one from wheat, rye, and barley, since the side branches contain, in addition to arabinose residues, small amounts of other compounds, which can confer additional health benefits or physicochemical properties.

Arabinoxylans general structure

Not all arabinoxylans share the same structure

Arabinoxylans from various cereals and different plant tissues share the same general molecular structure. However, depending on the genus and species, the amount and structure of arabinoxylans in a particular tissue may differ drastically, which affects not only their physicochemical properties, but also their health benefits.

Arabinoxylans as part of dietary fibre have many potential physiological effects along the gastrointestinal tract. These effects are dependent on a complex mixture of molecular and physical properties of arabinoxylan preparations, as well as on the site, rate, and extent of their digestion and fermentation in the gut.

These differences are reflected, among others, in the degree of polymerization (chain length), solubility, degree of substitution or presence of other substituents, such as feruloyl groups.

• Degree of polymerization

It represents the length of the arabinoxylan chain, and it is related to a greater bifidogenic effect. [1]

For instance, native arabinoxylans from wheat endosperm have an average degree of polymerization higher than 60 and, often, higher than 100; while other fibres such as arabinoxylan-oligosaccharides (AXOS) and inulin typically have a degree of polymerization of 2–10. [2]

• Solubility

The wheat endosperm contains the highest amount of soluble arabinoxylans, which is associated with a greater bifidogenic effect.

Insoluble arabinoxylans are typically found in the bran, stalks or corn stover, and are not likely to be digested in the large intestine.

Moreover, the extraction of water-insoluble arabinoxylans requires the use of cell wall blasting enzymes or strong alkaline chemicals.

Such heavy enzymatic or chemical treatment has a negative impact on both chain length and ferulic acid bonds. [1] Often, these extracted molecules are no longer arabinoxylans, but have become AXOS.

• Degree of substitution

It represents the ratio of arabinose to xylose residues. The presence of arabinose substitution also affects the fermentation ability of microorganisms.

While arabinoxylans support the growth of some bacterial species, unsubstituted xylans are not fermented by any of the probiotic bacteria.

Unsubstituted xylans form insoluble aggregates and hinder the accessibility of the bacteria. [1]

• Presence of substituents

The beneficial role of arabinoxylans in the human diet may also be associated with the presence of other substituents, such as ferulic acid covalently bound to these polymers.

Ferulic acid is considered a natural antioxidant, food antimicrobial agent, anti-inflammatory agent, photoprotectant and food flavour precursor. [3]

In conclusion, although arabinoxylans from various cereals share the same general structure, the specific structure varies greatly. These differences in structure are characterized by different factors (degree of polymerization, solubility…), which determine the potential health benefits and physicochemical properties of arabinoxylans, thus affecting the industrial applications of these molecules.


Which ingredients shoul be included in a pre-workout formula

Which ingredients should a pre-workout formula include?

Which ingredients should a pre-workout formula include?

January 13th, 2022

If you are looking for the ideal pre-workout formula, you came to the right place. In this article, we explore the most relevant ingredients that your pre-workout formula should include to target power, focus and endurance.

Which ingredients shoul be included in a pre-workout formula

Tingles and rashes, this is what the average gym visitor is looking for in a pre-workout formula. However, sometimes it can be difficult to choose the right product due to the endless lists of ingredients.

You may find yourself asking questions like: “Do I really need all these things?”, “What is it that really matters?”. If this is the case, in this article, we explore a few effective ingredients to target the 3 main benefits a high-quality pre-workout should provide: power, focus and endurance.

What is a pre-workout?

Pre-workouts are known to most as cocktails of rash- and tingle-causing formulations. However, these days, formulations are more sophisticated than they used to be. They are consumed by athletes from all disciplines briefly prior to their workout or training.

The goal of consuming these types of formulas is to enhance acute exercise performance [1]. You can find pre-workouts in different forms, like drinks, gels or capsules, yet ready-to-drink powders are by far the most common format.

Getting the most out of your workout

If you are considering consuming a pre-workout for improving your performance, you can pay attention to a few things before buying.

First, you would like to have an effective product that addresses three main benefits: power, focus and endurance.

Further, you would like this product to have a rapid onset of these effects, ideally within 15-30 minutes of intake.

Finally, you can consider choosing a formula that contains natural ingredients and avoid consuming high amounts of stimulants like caffeine.

In the next section, we look at the ingredients that you should be looking for in a pre-workout.

Ingredients for power

These ingredients provide fuel to maximize high-intensity movements within your training or workout [2].

Citrulline malate. Clinical dose: 6 g

This ingredient consists of citrulline, a non-essential amino acid, and malic acid, an intermediate in the citric acid cycle.

Citrulline malate is linked to improved blood flow during exercise by augmenting nitric oxide (NO) levels, as citrulline is a NO precursor [3].

Currently, it is unclear whether the performance improvement is linked to this mechanism, but several studies support an improvement in peak power output after citrulline malate consumption [4,5].

Creatine. Clinical dose: 3 g

Creatine is one of the most well-researched ingredients in sports nutrition. Creatine supplementation increases intramuscular creatine levels. Short-term energy generation in muscle tissue comes virtually 100% from creatine – the phosphorylated isoform, Cr-P.

Daily intake has been demonstrated to promote anaerobic performance in the gold standard Wingate Test [6]. Researchers also found beneficial effects on exercise recovery with creatine intake, reducing exercise-induced muscle damage [7].

Ingredients for focus

These ingredients make sure that you can focus on your movements to execute them with high precision [2]. Focus is more famously referred to as mind-muscle connection.

Berry anthocyanins. Clinical dose: 15 mg

If you are looking for an alternative to caffeine, you should check out berry anthocyanins. This group of bioactive compounds has been demonstrated to increase neurotransmitter levels, improving connectivity in the brain.

Specifically, Aronia melanocarpa anthocyanins aid in improving cognitive functions: eye-hand coordination, psychomotor speed and focus [8,9].

Caffeine. Clinical dose: 200 mg

Similar to creatine, caffeine is one of the most well-researched ingredients in sports nutrition [2], often referred to as the primary ingredient responsible for acute ergogenic effects.

Low doses (3 mg/kg body weight) have been linked to improved alertness, vigilance, mood and cognitive processes during exercise [10].

However, a comparison between non-caffeine and caffeine-containing pre-workout formulas concluded that the caffeine-containing pre-workout reduces calmness. If you are training in the evening, this might be a reason to pass on caffeine [11].

Ingredients for endurance

These ingredients are important to provide nutrients to feel energized until the end of your workout [2].

Beta-alanine. Clinical dose 4-6 g

Beta-alanine is a carnosine precursor, a compound that buffers lactate build-up in the muscle tissue, prolonging the feeling of soreness.

It has been shown that 4-6 g of beta-alanine consumption per day for two weeks improves high-intensity exercise performance. Regular consumption maintains a certain level of intramuscular carnosine levels, as beta-alanine is the limiting factor in carnosine production [12].

Carbohydrates. Dose depending on exercise type [13]

This ingredient depends a lot on the exercise type you are performing. Typical gym sessions last between 45-120 minutes, for which a small amount of rapidly absorbed carbohydrates shortly before exercise can be beneficial.

Carbohydrates are the main energy source during resistance exercise and are mobilized from glycogen stores. A small amount of carbohydrates is able to support glycogen store replenishment [14].

Endurance exercise is typical of a longer duration and would require a larger pre-workout carbohydrate amount to optimize glycogen stores. Slow-release carbohydrates could be a consideration for this type of athlete, as they deliver energy over a longer period of time.

Citrus flavonoids (hesperidin) – Power and endurance in one ingredient

If you want to take your pre-workout to the next level, an additional ingredient you may want to include in your pre-workout formula, are citrus flavonoids (hesperidin).

WATTS’UP® is a natural Citrus sinensis extract researched and developed by BioActor. The recommended daily dose (clinical dose) for this ingredient is 400-500 mg.

Two randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials conducted by BioActor confirmed that WATTS’UP® is able to significantly improve peak force, endurance capacity and anaerobic power in trained subjects.

Further research revealed that WATTS’UP® works by stimulating nitric oxide (NO) synthesis in blood vessels, thus stimulating a better blood flow, and by increasing mitochondria efficiency and respiration capacity [15, 16].


A promising ingredient for gaming supplements

Brainberry® – A promising ingredient for gaming supplements

Brainberry® – A promising ingredient for gaming supplements

January 11th, 2022

Brainberry® is an Aronia melanocarpa extract that provides an innovative and natural way to boost gaming performance in a safe and effective way. If you plan to get rid of typical sugar- and stimulant-loaded supplements and energy drinks, Brainberry® may be the healthier alternative you are looking for. Thanks to its high content in functional anthocyanins, it promises to enhance gamers’ experience by providing sustained crash-free energy, as well as clinically proven brain benefits.

A promising ingredient for gaming supplements

Why are supplements relevant for gaming?

Gaming has grown exponentially over the last few years, not only in amateur gamers but also in professional ones– eSports.

If you are a gamer yourself, you may have already noticed that gaming requires an incredible number of mental skills. Indeed, gaming is continuous and with very few breaks. Therefore, you need to manage a high cognitive workload, especially if your session will last for an extended period of time.

Visual-spatial skills are essential. These skills allow you to analyse, recognize and rapidly respond to changes on the screen. In addition, as gaming sessions can last for hours, enhanced attention and focus are crucial too. You need to have the skills to stay focused and alert, without getting sleepy and distracted.

Lastly, when gaming, it is important that you manage emotions, such as anger, anxiety and stress, as these can negatively impact your performance.

Even though nutrition has been often overlooked by most gamers, the supplement industry for this segment is growing exponentially, showing that more and more attention is being paid to this important aspect.

Over the last year, in fact, several brands have launched gaming formulas on the market and supplement use is continuously increasing amongst gamers looking to up their gaming performance. There is a wide range of products tailored to gamers, ranging from powders to capsules, functional drinks and even gummies.

Whether you are a competitive gamer or not, taking care of your body and mind through proper nutrition, supplements, and rest can yield the best results.

What is the main problem with most gaming supplements and energy drinks?

Supplements have the potential to enhance your cognitive performance when gaming. As mentioned, together with the increased number of gamers, gaming supplement and energy drink interest and consumption has significantly grown in the last years.

However, as you may have experienced, many of these products contain high amounts of caffeine and sugars. High intakes of these two compounds are generally associated with negative health effects.

After a high caffeine intake, you may experience tachycardia, jitters, headaches or disrupted sleep [1, 2, 3]. In fact, excessive caffeine consumption can have a negative impact on your brain performance.  On top of this, a high caffeine consumption during the teenage years is associated with an increased risk of suffering from anxiety disorders in adulthood [4].

On the other hand, a high sugar intake may lead you to unhealthy weight gain and dental caries, both undesired health effects. Moreover, high sugar spikes in the blood are often followed by an energy crash, which is not ideal when you need to be focused.

If you plan to get rid of typical sugar- and stimulant-loaded supplements and energy drinks, Brainberry® may be the healthier alternative you are looking for.

What is Brainberry®?

Brainberry® is an Aronia melanocarpa extract, standardized for high levels of the anthocyanin cyanidin-3-O-galactoside. This ingredient is clinically validated to improve focus and psychomotor control.

The consumption of anthocyanins has been associated with an improvement in cognition skills, such as memory, attention and psychomotor speed [5, 6, 7].

The active cyanidins present in Aronia berry extract in the form of cyaniding-3-O-galactoside are able to cross the blood-brain barrier and contribute to brain perfusion.

In the hippocampus, cyanidin-3-O-galactoside lowers the activity of acetylcholine esterase, triggering an increase in acetylcholine, which results in improved neuronal signalling. This leads to faster and more accurate reactions due to improved visual processing speed and psychomotor control.

Brainberry® is water-soluble, easy to formulate and has a pleasant taste. Its possible applications include liquid forms (e.g. ready-to-drink formulas), chewable tablets, gummies, effervescent tablets, stick packs and capsules.

What makes Brainberry® an ideal ingredient for gaming supplements?

Brainberry® is the ideal ingredient for gaming supplements for several reasons:

• 100% natural. Extracted from high-quality Aronia berries from the Baltics, it is a completely natural ingredient.

• Clinically proven. It has been validated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

• Increased visual processing speed. Its hero compound, cyanidin-3-O-galactoside, significantly improves psychomotor control, resulting in better eye-hand coordination.

• Tested in gamers. It has been successfully tested in a consumer study with active gamers.

• Low dosage and stimulant-free. The recommended daily dose is 65 mg. It does not contain stimulants, which are usually accompanied by undesired side effects. This makes it a healthier option compared to other solutions high stimulants.

• High bioavailability. The bioavailability of the active compound present in Brainberry®, cyanidin-3-O-galactoside, has been evaluated and it has demonstrated a rapid absorption.

• Easy to formulate. Thanks to its excellent solubility and pleasant taste, it is possible to include it in a wide range of forms (e.g. drinks, gummies, capsules…).

What type of research has been conducted with Brainberry®?

Double-blind placebo-controlled trial

Brainberry® has been investigated in the first-ever study to link Aronia berry extract to improved cognitive performance. A 12-week double-blind placebo-controlled clinical study that included 101 subjects linked Aronia berry extract (Brainberry®) to a significant increase in psychomotor speed, eye-hand coordination, and focus.

After only 6 weeks of supplementation with 65 mg of Brainberry® daily, a significant improvement in psychomotor speed was observed, with even a further increase for the rest of the trial (12 weeks).

Brainberry psychomotor speed result

After 12 weeks, concentration was increased by 43% in the group supplemented with 65 mg of Brainberry®. [8]

Brainberry focus result

Consumer study with active gamers

More recently, a consumer study was conducted in active gamers using Brainberry®. Twenty-one healthy young recreational active gamers consumed 65 mg of Brainberry® daily for 7 days.

After just one dose of Brainberry®, participants successfully reported a significant improvement in the most relevant measures for gaming performance, such as eye-hand coordination, focus, reaction time and energy.

As gamers need fast-acting noticeable effects, the significant improvements in eye-hand coordination, focus, energy and reaction after a single dose, confirmed the effectiveness of Brainberry®.

What’s perhaps even more important, is that these improvements were sustained after one week of supplementation.

Brainberry gamer study results

As mentioned before, mood is also key during a gaming session. In fact, not being able to deal with difficult emotions (i.e. anger, stress, anxiety) that are likely to arise while competing, negatively impact performance. Interestingly, the participants in the study reported an improvement in mood parameters after one week of supplementation with Brainberry®.

It is important to point out that supplementation with Brainberry® after the seven days, did not have any negative effects on fatigue, sleep quality and anxiety levels. It is well-known that these types of complaints are frequently reported by subjects (often gamers) who consume large quantities of sugar- and stimulant-loaded energy drinks.

The bottom line

Brainberry® is an Aronia melanocarpa extract that provides an innovative and healthy solution to boost gaming performance in a natural and safe way. Thanks to its high content in functional anthocyanins, it promises to enhance gamers’ experience by providing sustained, crash-free energy and clinically proven brain benefits.

Brainberry® is the perfect alternative to supplements and energy drinks that are high in sugar and caffeine. It allows limiting these compounds in your diet while offering sustained crash-free energy, as well as clinically proven brain benefits.


The techonological properties of arabinoxylans

Technological properties of arabinoxylans as baking additives

Technological properties of arabinoxylans as baking additives

December 23rd, 2021

Arabinoxylans are soluble fibres extracted from cereal grains, such as the wheat endosperm. Due to the physicochemical and technological properties of these molecules, arabinoxylans can be used as a baking additive to improve dough consistency, increase loaf volumes, improve crumb structure and decrease bread staling. Arabinoxylans are palatable and arabinoxylan-rich foods are well accepted by consumers.

The techonological properties of arabinoxylans

What are arabinoxylans?

Arabinoxylans are soluble fibres extractable from cereal grains. Arabinoxylans have been identified in all major cereal grains, including wheat, barley, oats, rye, rice, sorghum, maize, and millet.

In cereal grains, arabinoxylans are localized mainly in the cell walls of starchy endosperm and the aleurone layer, in the bran tissues, and in the husk of some cereals.

Arabinoxylans can be used as a dietary supplement due to their beneficial effects on gut health, glycaemic control and immune health.

Depending on the genus and species, the amount and structure of arabinoxylans in a particular tissue may vary. For instance, in wheat, there is more arabinoxylan in the walls surrounding the cells of starchy endosperm than in those of aleurone.

Not all arabinoxylans are the same. They vary on the degree of polymerization, which represents the length of the arabinoxylan chains, and on the soluble arabinoxylan content, among others.

Arabinoxylans as technologically functional food ingredients

The role of arabinoxylans in the bread-making processes and their effects on the final bread product have been widely studied. Soluble arabinoxylans, such as those found in the wheat endosperm, have positive effects on dough consistency, loaf volumes, crumb structure and bread staling.

All these characteristics contribute to their utility not only in the bread-making process, but also as neutraceuticals incorporated into functional foods. Arabinoxylans are palatable and arabinoxylan-rich foods are well accepted by consumers. Arabinoxylans have been successfully added to bread, porridge or biscuits, among others.

• Dough consistency

A clear distinction needs to be made between soluble and insoluble arabinoxylans. When added to wheat flour, soluble arabinoxylans, compete for water with other flour constituents. As a consequence, dough consistency is increased.

In opposition, insoluble arabinoxylans can form physical barriers for the gluten network during dough development. The resulting gluten has lower extensibility, which decreases dough consistency.

• Loaf volumes

Soluble arabinoxylans increase the viscosity of the dough’s aqueous phase and, thus, have a positive effect both on dough structure and stability, especially during the early baking processes.

This increased stability surrounding the gas cells is very useful in prolonging oven rise, which leads to an increased loaf volume.

Insoluble arabinoxylans, on the other hand, destabilize dough structure and have a negative effect on loaf volume. They also absorb a large amount of water, leaving less available water for proper gluten development and film formation, resulting in a lower loaf volume.

• Crumb structure

As mentioned, soluble arabinoxylans increase the viscosity of the dough’s aqueous phase, leading to greater dough stability. This increased stability surrounding the gas cells also leads to an improved crumb structure.

• Bread staling

Another functional property of arabinoxylans is associated with their role in bread staling. Bread staling is a complex phenomenon involving loss of aroma, deterioration of crust characteristics and increase in crumb firmness. Stale bread is dry and hard.

Over a 7-day storage period, arabinoxylan-fortified bread exhibits lower crumb hardness than the controls without added arabinoxylans. This is attributed to the higher moisture content in the bread fortified with arabinoxylans, as well as to the plasticizing effects of water. [1]

The bottom line

Due to the physicochemical and technological properties (e.g. water-binding capacity, gelation) of soluble arabinoxylans, such as those found in the wheat endosperm, these molecules can be used as a baking additive to improve dough consistency, increase loaf volumes, improve crumb structure and decrease bread staling. Arabinoxylans are palatable and arabinoxylan-rich foods are well accepted by consumers.


Wheat arabinoxylans health benefits

What are the health benefits of arabinoxylans from wheat?

What are the health benefits of arabinoxylans from wheat?

December 10th, 2021

Arabinoxylans are soluble prebiotic fibres extracted from cereal grains, such as the wheat endosperm. Arabinoxylans can be used as dietary supplements or functional food ingredients due to their researched beneficial effects on gut health, glycaemic control and immune health.

Wheat arabinoxylans health benefits

What are arabinoxylans?

Arabinoxylans are soluble fibres extracted from cereal grains. Arabinoxylans have been identified in all major cereal grains, including wheat, barley, oats, rye, rice, sorghum, maize, and millet.

In cereal grains, arabinoxylans are localized mainly in the cell walls of starchy endosperm and the aleurone layer, in the bran tissues, and in the husk of some cereals.

Depending on the genus and species, the amount and structure of arabinoxylans in a particular tissue may vary. For instance, in wheat, there is more arabinoxylan in the walls surrounding the cells of starchy endosperm than in those of aleurone.

Not all arabinoxylans are the same. They vary on the degree of polymerization, which represents the length of the arabinoxylan chains, and on the soluble arabinoxylan content.

As with all fibres, their physicochemical characteristics affect the degree to which they are utilised by the gut microbiota. Higher degrees of polymerization and concentrations of soluble fibre are related to greater bifidogenic effects. [1]

Arabinoxylans can be used as a dietary supplement due to their beneficial effects on gut health, glycaemic control and immune health.

Moreover, due to the physicochemical and technological properties of these molecules (e.g. water-binding capacity, gelation), arabinoxylans can also be used as a baking additive to improve dough consistency, increase loaf volumes and improve crumb structure.

The health benefits of arabinoxylans

Research around arabinoxylans has suggested that these compounds, as part of dietary fibre, have many beneficial physiological effects along the entire human gastrointestinal tract.

These effects are dependent on a complex mixture of molecular and physical properties of arabinoxylan preparations, as well as on the site, rate and extent of their digestion and fermentation in the gut.

• Arabinoxylans have strong prebiotic properties

Arabinoxylans have demonstrated to have prebiotic properties, by selectively stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria in the colon, such as Bifidobacterium and Bacteroides species. [2,3]

This change in the microbiota is associated with positive health outcomes, such as improved overall health, decreased gut infections and enhanced mineral absorption.

Additionally, the fermentation of prebiotics by intestinal bacteria results in the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which have numerous favourable effects.

These effects include the inhibition of harmful bacteria, colon cancer prevention or improvement of glucose tolerance, among others. [4]

• Arabinoxylans improve glycaemic control and insulin sensitivity

Evidence suggests that arabinoxylans from wheat may improve metabolic control in people with impaired glucose tolerance and with Diabetes type 2, by improving blood glucose and insulin levels.

The short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) formed from the metabolization of arabinoxylans by the gut microbiota are mainly butyrate, acetate and propionate. Acetate and propionate can bind to a specific protein called GPCR43 in the colon.

After binding, the secretion of two peptides (PYY and GLP-1) is increased. This leads to a lowered intestinal motility and a decrease in the levels of a hunger hormone called ghrelin. These processes are key to improving glucose handling. [5,6]

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that there is sufficient scientific evidence to substantiate the health claim that the consumption of arabinoxylans produced from wheat endosperm contributes to a reduction of the glucose rise after a meal. [7]

Some other soluble fibres have also been associated with this health benefit; however, one of the advantages of arabinoxylans lies in their higher palatability.

• Arabinoxylans boost immune health

Arabinoxylans have shown to boost the immune system. Specifically, they may enhance adaptive immunity, innate immunity and gut barrier integrity:

1. Adaptive immunity. Arabinoxylans may enhance vaccination efficacy against influenza, resulting in fewer adverse events, fewer respiratory tract infections and an improved seroprotection rate. [8]

2. Innate immunity. As mentioned, arabinoxylans may promote a beneficial short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) profile. This leads to increased cytokine production, improved monocytes recruitment capacity, and activation of regulatory T-cells, resulting in an increased immune system vigilance. All these cells are involved in keeping the immune system in check by making sure that it returns to a stable state after invaders have been successfully cleaned up. [9,10]

3. Gut barrier integrity. The short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) butyrate provides additional energy to the gut cells and strengthens the mucus layer. Arabinoxylans further induce the upregulation of tight junction proteins, protecting the human body against foreign invaders and strengthening the immune system. [11,12]

How can you add arabinoxylans to your diet?

Arabinoxylans can be found in cereal grains. Arabinoxylan supplements can also be purchased in health food stores and online. They can be found in capsule form, in powder blends or even in bars.

Generally, 1 to 5 grams of arabinoxylans daily are enough to benefit from their prebiotic effect. Regarding EFSA’s health claim on glycaemic control, at least 8% of arabinoxylan-rich fibre produced from wheat endosperm per unit of available carbohydrates should be consumed.

Arabinoxylans are generally considered safe and well tolerated by the gut, meaning that they do not cause intestinal discomfort. [13,14]


What are postbiotics

What are postbiotics? Let's find out!

What are postbiotics? Let’s find out!

December 7th, 2021

Probiotics and prebiotics are very popular nowadays for their positive effects on gut health. Most recently, postbiotics, which are products or metabolites released from microbial fermentation, have also gained attention due to their health benefits. However, they are still unknown to the majority of consumers.

What are postbiotics

What are postbiotics?

Postbiotics are defined as a “preparation of inanimate microorganisms and/or their components that confers a health benefit on the host”. In other words, they are the bacterial products or metabolites released from microbial fermentation.

For this reason, postbiotics include several types of compounds, such as short-chain fatty acids, microbial cell fragments, functional proteins, extracellular polysaccharides, cell lysates or teichoic acid.

Unlike probiotics, postbiotics do not need to be alive to be beneficial, so they are more stable than the living bacteria they are derived from. [1]

Why postbiotics?

Why postbiotics when I can already take probiotics and prebiotics? This may be a question that comes up.

It is important to understand that gut microbiota composition varies between individuals. This means that the degree to which different components are metabolized may be different among persons.

As a result, probiotics and prebiotics may have different health effects between individuals. Moreover, temporal changes in our gut microbiota composition could also influence the effects of these compounds.

On the other hand, many positive health effects of probiotics and prebiotics are due to the production of components such as short-chain fatty acids, microbial fragments, functional proteins or teichoic acid.

As mentioned before, these components are postbiotics, which means that when postbiotics are taken, these components are directly ingested.

If you want to know more about prebiotics, check this article.

What are the health benefits of postbiotics?

Research suggests that postbiotics may have several health benefits. These include the following:

 

• Modulation of the microbiota. Postbiotics components such as butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid, are beneficial for gut health. [2]

 

• Modulation of the immune system. Butyrate can stimulate the production of T cells in the intestine, which helps control immune responses. Other components such as microbial cell wall fragments can increase the production of cytokines, which are chemical messengers that help reduce inflammation and boost immune responses. [2,3]

 

• Modulation of the metabolism. Propionate, a short-chain fatty acid, can help improve insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. On the other hand, butyrate can stimulate the production of an antioxidant called glutathione. [1,2]

 

• Weight loss aid. Short-chain fatty acids may help weight loss through the modification of eating behaviours. This is due to the release of hormones that increase satiety. [1]

 

• Reduction of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms. A study in 443 individuals with IBS involving orally administered, heat-inactivated Bifidobacterium bifidum, found that the postbiotic substantially alleviated symptoms associated with IBS, such as abdominal pain or discomfort, abdominal bloating and abnormal bowel habits. [4]

 

• Other potential benefits. Orally administered, inactivated lactic acid bacteria may help eradicate Helicobacter pylori infection, chronic unexplained diarrhoea and the abrogation of the negative effects of stress. [1]

How can I add postbiotics to my diet?

Postbiotics are not as easy to find as probiotics and prebiotics, but they can be purchased in health food stores and online. They are generally considered safe and well-tolerated.

As postbiotics are generated from fermentation by the bacteria in your gut, you can increase postbiotics production by eating foods rich in probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics can be found in fermented foods and drinks, such as yoghurt, kefir, tempeh or kombucha. Prebiotics can be found in high fibre foods, such as vegetables and whole-grain products.


6 Reasons to Include Actiful® in Your Energy Supplement

Top 6 Reasons to Include Actiful® in Your Energy Supplement

Top 6 Reasons to Include Actiful® in Your Energy Supplement

November 1st, 2021

As energy-boosting dietary supplements are gaining popularity amongst consumers, the need for clinically-proven health ingredients is growing accordingly. If you are a formulator looking to craft an effective product targeting energy & vitality, you may be overwhelmed by the many ingredients available out there. Can’t make your mind up? In this article, we explore the top 6 reasons to include Actiful® in your product.

6 Reasons to Include Actiful® in Your Energy Supplement

The growing interest in energy-boosting supplements.

In today’s hectic world, more than ever, people suffer from tiredness and lack of energy. Many consumers indeed tackle physical and mental stress with the help of dietary supplements, which help them with avoiding the fatigue feeling, doing more sport and being more socially active.

The interest in nutritional solutions for an extra energy kick is increasingly gaining popularity. In fact, according to the recent CRN consumer survey on dietary supplements, improving energy levels is among the top 5 reasons for consuming such products (28%, a 7% increase yearly), showing how people are relying on supplements to get through the day.

What is Actiful®?

Actiful® is a patent-protected orange and pomegranate complex specifically designed to enhance energy and vitality, affecting short-term and long-term energy systems and improving mood.

This all-natural ingredient is standardized for highly bioavailable hesperidin, an important polyphenol found in sweet orange (Citrus Sinensis).

BioActor developed Actiful® and, together with Maastricht University, researched the ingredient and confirmed its health benefits in multiple randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trials.

Including Actiful® in your formulation: top 6 reasons

If you are thinking of including Actiful® in your formulation, you must know the following:

 

1. It has been clinically tested in both young and senior subjects.
When the common goal is being more active, Actiful® is the ideal ingredient for both young and senior subjects.

The efficacy of Actiful® was first demonstrated in a 4-week randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical study conducted with young subjects. The results show that immediate and sustained energy improved significantly for the supplementation group compared to placebo.

In another clinical trial, the objective was to measure the effect of Actiful® on energy and mental wellness in seniors. As expected, anaerobic power significantly improved in the supplementation group.

Interestingly, also the WHO Quality of Life scores on mental wellness significantly increased in the Actiful® group, compared to the placebo.

 

2. It boosts the NO levels, thereby improving the blood flow.
The active flavonoids in sweet orange, the major component of Actiful®, were found to activate the phosphorylation of Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase (eNOS). eNOS is the key enzyme for Nitric Oxide (NO) synthesis. Consequently, NO increases, having a beneficial effect on the endothelium by promoting vasodilation and increasing blood flow.

As a direct consequence of the improved blood flow, oxygen and nutrients are more efficiently transported to the body districts where required.

Pomegranate further augments the production of NO as it is an excellent donor of highly bioavailable nitrate.

 

3. It works directly at the mitochondrial level.
Experiments in myotubes showed that Hesperitin, the active flavanone derived from the metabolization of Actiful®, enhances ATP production at the mitochondrial level.

By quenching the reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reducing proton leakage between the intermembrane space and the mitochondrial matrix, Hesperitin is able to improve the proton gradient required for the ADP-ATP phosphorylation cycle.

This process results in a better “respiration capacity” of the mitochondria, leading to more ATP production, the fuel for our muscle.

 

4. It acts on the body as well as on the mind.
Mood is a crucial aspect of every individual’s well-being. Stress, anxiety, focus and happiness are all factors that affect our psychophysical wellness.

It was demonstrated that the supplementation with Actiful® not only positively affects the energy level, but it may also affect the mood.

As it is clear that body and mind work in tandem, Actiful® can be considered the perfect vitality enhancer!

 

5. High bioavailability is proven.
Bioavailability is an important aspect to consider in nutraceuticals, as it is a key indicator of absorption and directly influences the bio-activity of specific molecules.

Actiful® was developed with this concept in mind, and a human and in vitro study demonstrated that the active ingredient starts to be taken up by the body within minutes.

Furthermore, the active metabolites remain available for several hours after consumptions. Hence, Actiful® offers excellent potential for a significant immediate energy boost, maintained over time after consumption.

 

6. It is patent-protected.
Actiful® is an innovative and patent-protected ingredient. BioActor is a pioneer in researching the positive effect of citrus flavonoids on energy metabolism.

This further adds value and makes Actiful® even more unique. Why? Because you won’t find imitations in the marketplace.

If you are interested in learning more about Energy & Vitality – Trends, Clinical Research and Innovation, you should check out our webinar on this topic. Click here to register!