how a healthy microbiome boosts your immune system

How a healthy microbiome boosts your immune system

Unlocking the power of your gut: how a healthy microbiome boosts your immune system

August 18th, 2023

Did you know that your immune system’s performance is intricately tied to the health of your gut microbiome? In this article, we delve into the fascinating connection between your gut microbiome and immune system. Discover the key role of the gut microbiome in immune function and learn about the dietary components that can nurture a diverse and thriving gut ecosystem.

how a healthy microbiome boosts your immune system

A symbiotic relationship: gut microbiome and immune system harmony

The human body is a bustling ecosystem housing trillions of microorganisms, collectively known as the microbiome. Among these, the gut microbiome stands out as a vibrant community of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites (1).

This intricate network collaborates to maintain a balanced blend of beneficial microorganisms, protecting us from potential invaders.

Recent advancements have illuminated the gut microbiome’s dynamic involvement in our well-being, extending beyond passive existence.

This intricate web of microorganisms actively influences various bodily functions, including bolstering the development and efficacy of the immune system. Our immune system, in turn, maintains a delicate equilibrium, defending against pathogens while avoiding autoimmune responses (2).

Microbiome’s immune-boosting strategies

Short-Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs)

At the heart of the gut microbiota’s influence on immunity lies the production of Short-Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs) through dietary fiber fermentation in the large intestine (3).

These SCFAs, such as acetate, propionate, and butyrate, play a pivotal role in maintaining gut balance and modulating immune responses. They orchestrate immune cell functions, like regulatory T cells and antigen-presenting cells, and stimulate cytokine and chemokine production, bolstering immunity.

Furthermore, SCFAs can directly quell pathogenic activity by suppressing virulence-related genes, curbing potential threats.

Fortifying the barricade: tight junctions

The gut’s tight junctions act as gatekeepers, upholding the integrity of the intestinal barrier (4). Inflammation or infections can disrupt these barriers, allowing undesirable substances to escape into the bloodstream, triggering immune responses (5, 6).

SCFAs step in as allies here, contributing to the assembly of robust tight junctions within intestinal cell walls. This reinforcement prevents the escape of harmful toxins from the gut, bolstering the gut wall’s ability to shield against infections (5).

When this symbiotic relationship thrives, the immune system guards us against infections. However, an unbalanced microbiota composition might trigger inflammation, autoimmune disorders, and chronic diseases (1, 5).

Strategies to help the gut ecosystem flourish

A diverse and balanced gut microbiome is universally recognized as vital for our health (7). Research highlights that such diversity empowers immune responses against infections while reducing autoimmune responses. Conversely, a low-diversity microbiome is linked to chronic inflammation and an elevated risk of colorectal cancer.

To nurture a flourishing and diverse gut microbiome, prioritizing a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle is very important.

Choose for a spectrum of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources. These foods, rich in fiber, prebiotics, and nutrients, provide nourishment for beneficial gut bacteria.

1. Fiber: the gut’s aid for immunity

Fiber’s role in gut health is crucial, as it bolsters microbiome diversity. A diet rich in fiber, found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, enhances gut bacteria abundance and diversity. This, in turn, augments immune function, reducing chronic disease risks (8).

2. Prebiotics: fuel for beneficial bacteria

Prebiotics, a specific type of fiber, serve as sustenance for our beneficial gut inhabitants. Foods like onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, bananas, and whole grains are brimming with prebiotics, nurturing a thriving microbial community.

3. Water: hydration and gut motility

Staying hydrated is crucial for optimal gut function. Drinking plenty of water helps maintain proper gut motility and prevents constipation. Adequate hydration supports the movement of food through the digestive tract, allowing beneficial bacteria to thrive and contribute to a healthier gut.

4. Probiotics and postbiotics: allies for immunity

Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi harbor probiotics—live bacteria conferring health benefits. Additionally, postbiotics, metabolic by-products or components produced during fermentation, like SCFAs, amplify the benefits. Consuming these products directly ingests these components, bolstering health.

5. Synbiotics: Uniting Prebiotics and Probiotics

Synbiotics, the blend of prebiotics and probiotics, synergistically promote gut health. Examples include yogurt with inulin or fructooligosaccharides (FOS), and kefir with galactooligosaccharides (GOS).

6. Reducing stress levels

Besides diet-related strategies, there are other ways to help your gut stay healthy. Stress can negatively impact the gut-brain axis and disrupt gut health. Practicing stress-reduction techniques like meditation or deep breathing can have a positive impact on both your mental well-being and gut health.

Cultivate your gut for immune resilience

In summary, the gut microbiome profoundly impacts the immune system’s effectiveness. A thriving and varied gut ecosystem fortifies us against infections and chronic ailments, while an imbalanced one heightens vulnerability. By embracing a well-rounded diet full of fiber, prebiotics, and fermented foods, we can nurture our gut microbiome, bolstering overall health.

MEET US - Vitafoods Asia 2023

Visit us at Vitafoods Asia 2023

August 15th, 2023

We are happy to announce that BioActor will participate in Vitafoods Asia 2023, the trade show that offers the opportunity to find out the latest trends in the field of dietary supplements, raw materials, and food and to network with other professionals from around the world. Visit us at Booth C41.

Meet us at Booth C41

If you’re looking for natural ingredients with verified clinical support to elevate your product development according to consumer needs, make sure to visit our booth! Our nutraceutical solutions guarantee success based on three fundamental principles: clinical efficacy, innovation, and high quality.

Vitafoods Asia 2023 offers an incredible opportunity to participate in discussions concerning our recently completed clinical trials, consumer studies, and collaborative endeavors!

New Clinical Data

Pass by our booth to learn about our recent trials on MicrobiomeX® for gut health, Brainberry® for cognitive performance or Actiful® for mitigating risk caused by harmful AGEs linked to chronic diseases.

Other than clinical data, we are happy to discuss the outcomes of our recent consumer research that delved into the effects of Bonolive® on postmenopausal symptoms.

New Collaboration

Vitafoods Asia also offers us a chance to chat about out new collaboration with PIXIENCE to test and validate an innovative skin imaging and testing technology in the context of a clinical study with a nutritional bioactive.

Solabia Nutrition

At Vitafoods Asia, we will be present under the flag of Solabia Nutrition, also showcasing our microalgae offering from our sister company Algatech. This includes their Astaxanthin and whole algae ingredients.

Book a meeting!

    The importance of clinical research: An interview with BioActor's in-house scientists

    The importance of clinical research: An interview with BioActor’s in-house scientists

    Maastricht, The Netherlands, 29th June 2023

    In the world of clinical research and scientific exploration, BioActor stands out as a leading company dedicated to the development of health ingredients. At the forefront of BioActor’s research and development (R&D) efforts are Sanne Ahles and Maria Imperatrice, two certified clinical research scientists who play vital roles in the BioActor’s R&D initiatives. In this interview, Sanne and Maria provide insights into their responsibilities, experiences, and the challenges they face in their pursuit of scientific advancement.

    Could you introduce yourself and your role within BioActor?

    Sanne: My name is Sanne Ahles and I am a clinical research scientist at BioActor. In addition, I am a PhD candidate at the Department of Nutrition and Movement Sciences at Maastricht University. I obtained my master’s degree in biomedical sciences after my internship at BioActor, after which I started working as a researcher.

    Within BioActor, I am responsible for the research regarding our product Brainberry®, mainly focused on cognitive performance and vascular function. Over the years, I have designed, performed, analyzed, and reported various clinical studies, as well as written a systematic literature review.

    Maria: My name is Maria Imperatrice and I also work as a clinical research scientist at BioActor. My research focus is Healthy Ageing and I’m currently performing two studies, Actiful2 and FEMMED, on two of our ingredients (Actiful® and Bonolive®) to evaluate their effect on exercise performance and postmenopausal symptoms, respectively.

    I obtained my Bachelor Degree in Biology and my Master in Human Nutrition at the University “Federico II Di Napoli” in Italy, and my second master’s degree in Human Movement Sciences, with a specialisation in Sport and Nutrition, at Maastricht University.

    At BioActor, we highly value clinical research because it plays a crucial role in providing evidence-based ingredients. What does clinical research entail and what do you like about it?

    Sanne: Clinical research entails many different processes. This includes idea formation and initial literature searches, finding collaborations, obtaining ethics approval, practical work, data analyses, writing reports and papers, and communicating our results at national and international conferences.

    Maria: A very interesting part for us is the ideation of the study. At BioActor we highly value innovation, which is why before starting a new clinical trial, we sit in brainstorming sessions with the R&D, marketing and sales teams to try to find white spaces in the current knowledge that can be of interest for the common public and different health domains. Once we find an interesting and never explored topic, the investigation can start.

    Could you briefly take us through the process of a clinical trial?

    Sanne: First, we initiate the idea formation process by brainstorming ideas that are relevant to customer questions or explore new areas of interest. Next, we perform literature searches to look for relevant papers, available data, and discover white space; topics that have not yet been researched.

    Then we reach out to a collaborator, usually a professor at a University, to work with on developing a protocol for ethics review.

    Maria: Once we obtain ethics approval, we dive into the practical phase of the clinical trial. This involves engaging with participants through visits where we collect data. This includes not only traditional data that we can extrapolate by collecting blood samples, but also performing tests to evaluate outcomes like reaction time, exercise capacity and mental flexibility.

    It’s an interactive and rewarding experience that brings our research to life and allows us to better understand how our ingredients contribute to improving human health and develop evidence-based solutions. Afterwards, we analyze the data, draw conclusions, and share our findings through peer-reviewed publications. It’s a cool journey from start to finish!

    Which of the above do you enjoy the most as a scientist?

    Sanne: I enjoy collaborating with other companies or academic institutes! It’s such an incredible opportunity for us to broaden our knowledge and take our research to the next level. The energy and creativity that come from working with diverse teams is truly great.

    Maria: The practical side of our work is always interesting! Collecting data means we get to perform visits with participants, and trust me, it’s never boring when you’re involved in a human study. The hands-on experience and the constant interaction with people make it such an exciting and fulfilling part of our job.

    What is the biggest challenge in designing a study?

    Sanne: In my opinion, the biggest challenge in designing a study is obtaining ethics approval, which is a rigorous and time-consuming process. We meticulously prepare documents explaining our research goals, methodology, and participant recruitment.

    The ethical committee thoroughly reviews these documents, granting final approval for each aspect of our research.

    Maria: I agree! Obtaining ethics approval is a significant challenge. However, this process is crucial for upholding ethical standards and protecting participant rights.

    It also adds credibility to our research, fostering trust and allowing our findings to have a greater impact. Despite the challenges, navigating the ethics approval process is vital for conducting valuable and ethically sound research.

    What is the best part of working at BioActor as a scientist?

    Sanne & Maria: Being a scientist at BioActor is truly rewarding due to the chance to collaborate with a dynamic and passionate team of international colleagues. Within BioActor, we also see other aspects of the company besides R&D.

    Our weekly company meetings allow us to really understand the bigger picture of the company and understand what each department entails. Consequently, we explore different facets of the company and gain valuable insights beyond our specific research and development focus.

    BioActor: Using clinical science as the key to innovative ingredients

    Sanne Ahles and Maria Imperatrice exemplify the passion and dedication that drive BioActor’s pursuit of finding new health effects of ingredients and advancing scientific innovation. From ideation to practical implementation, data analysis, and knowledge dissemination; they are pushing the boundaries of scientific knowledge and embracing the multidisciplinary nature of their work. Sanne and Maria contribute to BioActor’s mission of creating innovative and impactful solutions for a healthier life.

    Immature Oranges

    Why are immature oranges a sustainable source for citrus extracts?

    Why are immature oranges a sustainable source for citrus extracts?

    June 28th, 2023

    Nature is an interesting thing and citrus trees are no exception. These fruit-bearing trees, known for their refreshing oranges, have a remarkable way of sustaining themselves through a process of natural selection, which is better known as the fruit drop. In this article, we will explore what immature oranges are, shedding light on their origin, the growth process of orange trees, and the sustainable practices employed by nature itself.

    Immature Oranges

    Orange trees grow more oranges than they can sustain

    During the summer, an orange tree bursts into a profusion of flowers, each one holding the promise of an orange. However, the tree faces a conundrum. It cannot possibly sustain all the blossoms it produces, as doing so would drain its resources and hinder its overall health. Consequently, the tree must make a decision regarding the number of oranges it can support adequately.

    This decision is made by looking at which oranges the tree wants to fully grow and dropping the immature oranges that it decides are no longer able to grow.

    Why does an orange tree drop immature oranges?

    As the oranges begin to develop, the tree undergoes a natural selection process. It assesses its capacity to sustain the growing fruits and makes calculated choices to ensure its long-term well-being.
    At this early stage, the tree drops the tiniest, most immature oranges, which are often just a few millimeters in size. This process is called fruit drop.

    Fruit drop occurs when a fruit tree produces more fruits than it can adequately support to maturity. The tree goes through a natural thinning process in which it sheds a certain number of immature or underdeveloped fruits. This thinning is essential for the tree to allocate its resources efficiently and ensure that the remaining fruits have enough nutrients and energy to reach maturity.

    There are several factors that can contribute to fruit drop. Some of the common reasons include:

    1. Limited resources: The tree may not have enough resources, such as water, nutrients, or sunlight, to support the growth of all the fruits it has set.

    2. Competition: When there are too many fruits on a tree, they may compete with each other for resources, leading to the shedding of some fruits.

    3. Pollination and fertilization issues: If pollination or fertilization processes are incomplete or unsuccessful, the tree may drop the unfertilized or poorly developed fruits.

    4. Environmental factors: Adverse weather conditions, such as frost, extreme heat, drought, or strong winds, can also cause fruit drop.

    5. Disease or pest infestation: Certain diseases or pest attacks can result in the dropping of fruits as a defense mechanism by the tree.

    Fruit drop is a natural mechanism that helps the tree optimize its resources and produce healthier fruits. It is a common occurrence in many fruit-bearing trees, and growers often expect some level of fruit drop during the growing season.

    Immature oranges: a sustainable source of citrus extract

    Though the tree drops the immature oranges to sustain other oranges, this does not mean that the immature oranges are not full of nutrients. More specifically, these immature oranges have very high levels of the hero-compound hesperidin that BioActor’s citrus extracts are standardized for.

    To utilize their potential, these immature oranges must undergo a specific drying process. The moisture is carefully removed, transforming them into dried fruits. Once the oranges are fully dried, the extraction process begins, unlocking the hesperidin.
    The process of getting immature oranges is not only sustainable because the fruit drop is a natural process, but also because of the way pests are controlled, namely by biological control.

    How biological control preserves the quality of the immature oranges

    A sustainable practice employed by orange tree farmers is biological control, which involves the deliberate use of natural enemies to combat pests. Instead of relying on harmful pesticides, farmers harness the power of nature’s allies to protect their citrus trees, including the immature oranges.

    Beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and lacewings, are introduced into the orchards to prey on pests like aphids and caterpillars that can harm the immature oranges. This method, known as biological control, helps maintain a balance in the ecosystem by reducing pest populations naturally and safeguarding the growth of the immature oranges.

    By embracing this approach, farmers can minimize the use of pesticides, thereby protecting the environment and preserving the health of the citrus trees and their valuable immature oranges.
    This sustainable practice not only ensures the quality of the oranges but also fosters a harmonious relationship between agriculture and nature, promoting a healthier and more environmentally friendly farming system.

    The most interesting part of immature oranges: Hesperidin

    Hesperidin, a bioactive compound found abundantly in citrus fruits like oranges, possesses numerous health benefits. It’s a powerful flavonoid that has been extensively studied by BioActor for its effect on gut health and in its micronized form: its effect on sports performance.

    By utilizing the immature oranges’ dried form, the extraction process harnesses hesperidin’s potency, providing an eco-friendly and sustainable approach to its production.

    During BioActor’s visit to the orange fields in Spain that are the source of the immature oranges for our extracts, we had the privilege of learning about the orange trees’ natural fruit drop from our orange farmer.

    The dried immature oranges, sourced from these carefully selected fields, serve as the foundation for our citrus extracts. By partnering with nature and respecting its processes, we strive to provide ingredients that are not only of the highest quality but also sustainably produced.


    Why should you consider making a gummy supplement?

    Why should you consider making a gummy supplement?

    June 14th, 2023

    Gummy supplements are on the rise as people look for a convenient and tasty way to add essential nutrients to their diet. Gummies are a great alternative to capsules and pills for individuals looking for supplements that are not hard to swallow. In this article, we will discuss the advantages of gummy supplements over traditional supplement formats and the factors to consider when choosing a gummy as a supplement.


    Tablets as dietary supplements

    Recently, there has been a rise in people’s interest in their well-being by using nutritional supplements. This has resulted in a 12% increase in the production of supplements in 2020.

    The most common forms of supplements are tablets and capsules, which are convenient, easy to use, and widely available.

    Tablets are a solid form of supplement that is typically round or long in shape and can range in size from small and easy to swallow to larger and more difficult to swallow.

    Tablets are made by compressing the active ingredients together with other inactive ingredients such as fillers, binders, and lubricants. These ingredients help to give the tablet its shape, size, and consistency and may also affect how the supplement is absorbed and used by the body.

    Capsulated supplements

    Capsules are another common form of supplement that is made by enclosing the active ingredients in a gelatin or vegetarian shell. Capsules can be filled with powders, liquids, or oils and come in a variety of sizes and shapes.

    Both tablets and capsules have advantages and disadvantages depending on the individual and their needs. Tablets are often preferred by people who prefer a solid form of supplement and are more affordable than capsules.

    However, what both forms of supplements have in common is that they are generally not liked for their taste. The demand for supplements that are nice to take is growing, which is why gummy supplements are on the rise.

    The rise of gummy supplements

    Gummies are a type of food supplement that provides essential nutrients that might be lacking in one’s regular diet. They are becoming increasingly popular in the food supplement industry due to their combination of health benefits and sweetness. Gummies are also a great option for individuals looking for vegan, gluten-free, or lactose-free products.

    Manufacturers of functional gummies use natural and organic raw materials in their production, making them more appealing to quality-conscious consumers. These gummies typically contain gelatin, corn starch, water, sugar, and added colorings.

    Gummies contain active ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, probiotics, antioxidants, and amino acids that can have positive effects on various aspects of health, including digestion, immune system function, cardiovascular health, and mental well-being.

    Why choose gummies over pills?

    Gummies are a versatile form of supplement that can be used for many different purposes. They can help prevent digestive, sleep, and skin problems, treat vitamin deficiencies, and boost the immune system.

    – Studies have shown that gummies are more effective than pills or tablets at delivering nutrients to the body. This is because the nutrients in gummies are dissolved in a liquid gelatin base, which makes them more easily absorbed by the body. As a result, gummies can be a more efficient way of supplying essential nutrients and provide a significant advantage over traditional supplement formats (1).

    Gummies are a convenient and tasty way to add vitamins and minerals to your diet. They’re becoming increasingly popular as a simple and easy way to supplement your diet with micronutrients, offering an enjoyable alternative to traditional supplements.

    – The soft and chewy textures of gummies make them a great option for people who struggle with swallowing pills or capsules.

    – Unlike traditional tablets or pills, gummies come in a variety of delicious flavors that can make taking supplements a more enjoyable experience. By taking vitamin gummies formulated with essential nutrients, individuals can avoid vitamin deficiencies and supplement their diet.

    – Incorporating gummies into your brand can help you stand out from traditional supplement companies and offer consumers a unique and enjoyable option for improving their health.

    Factors to consider when creating a gummy supplement

    Creating high-quality gummy supplements requires careful consideration of the ingredients used. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

    – Look for ingredient suppliers that provide options with minimal sugar content or natural sweeteners as alternatives. This ensures that the final gummy product aligns with consumer preferences for reduced sugar intake.

    – Prioritize sourcing pure and natural ingredients for your gummy supplements. Consider using natural sources for colors and flavors to enhance the appeal and marketability of the product.

    – Incorporate ingredients that offer a significant amount of dietary fiber per serving. Fiber not only adds nutritional value but also promotes digestive health and supports a strong immune system, making your gummies more appealing to health-conscious consumers.

    In conclusion, it is important to look for gummies with natural and pure ingredients, as well as sweeteners or with a minimal amount of sugar. Having these factors in mind, consumers can find gummies that not only taste good but also provide essential nutrients and health benefits.

    Creating a gummy supplement for focus and brain health

    BioActor’s Brainberry® is a great example of an ingredient that can be used in a gummy. It has a low daily dose of only 65mg and has been clinically validated for cognitive performance, focus and hand-eye coordination.

    It’s an extract from Aronia berries and if you want to find out more: Here’s everything you need to know about Brainberry® and brain health.

    Discover YAMAMOTO’s Success Story

    Learn how YAMAMOTO integrated WATTS’UP® into their products, driving remarkable success.



    Why gut health is key to your overall well-being

    Why gut health is key to your overall well-being

    April 28th, 2023

    Research and professionals often mention that gut health is essential to overall well-being. However, what exactly is meant with the term gut health? How is the gut linked to well-being, and why is this important? In this article, we will explore the gut’s role in the gastrointestinal tract, the gut health, and its role on maintaining a good overall health.


    The gut’s role in the gastrointestinal tract

    The gut is not only important for the digestion and uptake of nutrients from food, but it also forms one of the most prominent barriers that protect us from many different pathogens.
    Intestinal health can also affect mood and cognition through communication between the gut and the brain. The microorganisms that reside in the gut play a major role in how the health of the gut influences well-being.

    The gut is also called the gastrointestinal tract or the digestive tract. It consists of the entire pathway from when food first enters the body and the remnants that leave the body again. Along the way, the food gets digested, and nutrients are absorbed to be used as energy sources and building blocks, in order to support the overall physiological functioning of the body.

    The intestines are of utmost importance in this process, as this is the site where most digestion and absorption of nutrients takes place.

    What is the structure of the gut?

    The gut is approximately 9 meters long, with the small intestine taking up 6 meters of this length.
    The lining of the gut consists of 4 distinct layers. The villi and microvilli that texture the gut epithelium, increase the surface area at which the absorption of nutrients can take place.
    Underneath the outermost layer, blood vessels and lymph vessels are in close proximity to the surface of the gut. This allows for the fast absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream.

    The gut contains many cells that are important for immune function. They facilitate the secretion of enzymes and mucus into the lumen, or hormones and other messaging molecules into the blood. The lymphatic system is part of this, as it is home to many immune cells that can fight pathogenic intruders.
    A protective mucus layer covers the epithelium, which makes it more difficult for pathogens to pass through.

    Gut microbiome

    Another important component of the gut are the commensal microorganisms that reside there; the gut microbiota. These microorganisms consist of many different species of bacteria, archaea, viruses, and fungi, and the composition is unique for every person.
    Bacteria make up the vast majority of the gut microbiome, with around 1000 different bacterial species that reside in your gut!

    The microbes in the gut elicit many important functions. They support energy metabolism, by fermenting otherwise undigestible dietary fibres into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs can be used as an energy source for intestinal cells, and serve as anti-inflammatory signalling molecules. Read more about SCFAs and their importance to gut health here!
    Due to their presence in large quantity, the gut microbiota can oppose colonization by pathogens, stimulate tolerance towards antigens, and induce the production of the protective mucus layer.

    What is gut health?

    Gut health refers to the overall functioning of the gut, in the absence of symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. The gut microbiome plays a central role in this; there has to be a balance between the helpful and potentially harmful microorganisms in the gut, as this can affect the integrity of the gut. Therefore, crosstalk between these microorganisms and the gut epithelium plays a pivotal role in one’s health status.

    There are multiple factors that can affect the composition of the gut microbiota, influencing the function and integrity of the gut barrier. These include environmental factors, including where you live, your age, what you eat, how physically active you are, but also stress levels, and the use of antibiotics, as well as genetic factors.

    Why is gut health important?


    The gut forms a protective barrier against gut microbes, pathogens, food antigens, and toxins to which the body is exposed in the gut. In fact, the intestine forms the largest internal barrier, and is therefore essential for the protections against harmful substances. Next to the physical barrier, as many as 70-80% of the immune cells reside in the gut.

    The immune cells in the gut secrete antibodies and antimicrobial proteins. Together with the epithelial and mucus barrier, they protect the underlying tissues form the translocation of pathogens that might be present in the lumen of the gut.

    The cells of the gut are held together by so-called tight junctions, which can loosen to become more ‘’leaky’’. On the one hand, this can be beneficial by aiding in the absorption of nutrients, or disposing of the inflammatory stimuli that did manage to cross the gut barrier (diarrhoea).

    On the other hand, an excessively leaky gut allows for ‘’bad’’ bacteria and other pathogens to enter the blood stream and cause (chronic) inflammation. This can further increase gut barrier dysfunction and disease. Dysbiosis – an imbalance between the favourable and unfavourable microbes in the gut – are a major cause of a leaky gut. (1, 2)

    Gut-brain axis

    Gut health is also important for brain health and cognitive function. There is bidirectional communication between the central nervous system – the brain, and the nervous system that resides in the gut. Interestingly, the majority – up to 90% – of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut. Serotonin is the so-called ‘’feel-good’’ chemical, which plays an important role in the modulation of mood, learning, and memory.

    The gut microbiota play an important role in the communication between the gut and the brain. The SCFAs produced by the gut microbiota are able to cross the blood-brain barrier, and directly communicate with the brain. Likewise, dysbiosis of the gut microbiome can alter the blood-brain barrier, possibly contributing to inflammation of the central nervous system, which is linked to depression and anxiety-like disorders (3).

    Curious to know more about the gut-brain axis? Read more about it here!

    How to support Gut Health?

    There are plenty of ways to support gut health. First of all, probiotics can be used to maintain a healthy community of microorganisms, by supplementing directly with live microorganisms. Next to that, prebiotics derived from non-digestible carbohydrates can be used to selectively stimulate the growth of intestinal bacteria. Learn more about prebiotics here!

    Another way to enhance gut health is through the use of the bacterial products or metabolites released from microbial fermentation; the so-called postbiotics. In this article, we will tell you more about the use and benefits of postbiotics.

    Gut health is the foundation of good health

    All in all, it is quite evident that keeping the gut healthy plays is of great importance for one’s overall well-being. This long tract, which is the home to many different microorganisms, takes care of digesting food and absorbing nutrients needed to perform all basic functions. Next to that, it plays crucial role in the defence against pathogens, and through its bidirectional communication with the brain, has a significant impact on mood and cognitive function.


    How can flavonoids improve gut health?

    How can flavonoids improve gut health?

    February 15th, 2023

    Flavonoids are important polyphenols that can exert beneficial effects in the body. Due to their antioxidative properties and metabolism, they can improve gut health and change the gut microbiome. In this article, we will describe how flavonoids, and especially hesperidin and naringin, can change the gut microbiome composition, increase gut barrier function, enhance the immune system, and altogether improve gut health.


    What are flavonoids?

    Flavonoids are a group of phytonutrients (chemicals of plants) that are found in almost all fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids give color to fruits and vegetables, but are also found in cacao, coffee and tea. There are more than 6,000 types of flavonoids.

    Since there are many types of flavonoids, they also have a wide range of beneficial effects, such as reducing chronic inflammation, and reducing risks associated with cancer and cardiovascular diseases (1, 2). Thus, implementing different flavonoids in your daily diet could be beneficial your health.

    Flavonoids and gut health

    Gut health and the gut microbiome have gained a lot of interest in the past years, since the gut microbiome and its metabolites are recognized as important regulators of host health.

    The gut barrier is an important barrier because it acts as a physical defence against toxins and microorganisms. This barrier should remain intact to function properly.

    Flavonoids may improve intestinal barrier function via inhibition of inflammatory proteins such as nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB), and via reduction of oxidative stress.

    Flavonoids also contribute to the preservation of the intestinal tight junction barrier and structure, which is important for remaining the physical barrier for pathogens (3).

    Flavonoids can stimulate short chain fatty acids to increase gut health

    Additionally, it is found that flavonoids can increase faecal short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which may be a result of increased SCFA production in the gut. SCFAs have different beneficial effects for the host and gut health. These benefits include serving as energetic fuel for intestinal epithelial cells, and improving intestinal barrier function (4, 5).

    An important SCFA for gut health is butyrate. It can bind to G-protein coupled receptors. Upon binding, different anti-inflammatory signalling pathways can be promoted in macrophages and dendritic cells, which are important cells in the immune system of the colon (6).

    Thus, flavonoids can increase gut barrier function and SCFA production, and potentially enhance the immune system via butyrate. Therefore, they are beneficial for gut health and it’s also shown in human studies that they can be used for inflammatory bowel diseases! (3)

    Two flavonoids for gut health; What are hesperidin and naringin?

    Hesperidin and naringin are flavanones , a subclass of flavonoids. These flavanones are mostly present in freshly prepared juices of citrus fruit, such as grapefruit, oranges and lemons. But it’s worth noting that hesperidin can be obtained in higher concentrations than naringin. Both compounds are even more abundant in the peels of these citrus fruits.

    After oral consumption, hesperidin and naringin reach the colon almost completely intact, because they are difficult to degrade by the enzymes in the stomach and the small intestine.

    This means the gut microbiota can digest them. They do this by releasing α-rhamnosidase, which converts hesperidin and naringin to hesperetin and naringenin. These metabolites are more bioavailable to the body, resulting in higher uptake by the gut into the blood, meaning they can be used by other tissues (7).

    Hesperidin and naringin can feed specific bacteria, meaning they can influence the microbiome. It was shown that naringin could reduce microbial dysbiosis caused by high fat diet in mice. This means that harmful bacteria were reduced and there was an increase in beneficial bacteria (8). The same was shown for hesperidin in rats (9).

    Hesperidin and naringin also play a role in immune system regulation. They can inhibit gut inflammation and oxidative stress by increasing antioxidant levels. By bringing gut inflammation down, the gut barrier stays intact as a physical defence against pathogens.

    That hesperidin and naringin reduce gut inflammation was not only shown for them individually, but also when they were combined in mice.

    Hesperidin and naringin: Hero flavonoids of MicrobiomeX®

    Hesperidin and naringin are the focus of many clinical trials done by BioActor, as the product MicrobiomeX® is a natural extract from Citrus sinensis & paradisi, consisting of both flavonoids.

    In vitro simulations of the human colon with the TIM-2 system showed that MicrobiomeX® could increase butyrate producing bacteria Roseburia spp. and acetate producing bacteria B. eggerthii (9). As mentioned before, butyrate is an important SCFA for gut health.

    Besides in vitro studies, there have also been done clinical trials on the butyrate increasing properties of MicrobiomeX®. All clinical trials are available in the MicrobiomeX® White Paper.

    It has also been found that by consumption of MicrobiomeX® calprotectin levels went down, which could indicate that MicrobiomeX® helps to bring gut inflammation down.

    MicrobiomeX® combines the benefits of the flavonoids hesperidin and naringin and is therefore an ideal ingredient for gut health. Do you wish to read more about the studies described in this blog? Download our whitepaper on MicrobiomeX® below.


    Short-chain fatty acids and their importance to gut health

    Short-chain fatty acids and their importance to gut health

    December 14th, 2022

    Short-chain fatty acids are saturated fatty acids that play an important role in gut health. They have several functions in human metabolism. Increasing the level of short-chain fatty acids in the gut might be a beneficial strategy to support overall health. Consumption of prebiotics and/or postbiotics can lead to higher levels of short-chain fatty acids.


    What are short-chain fatty acids?

    The gut microbiome is the community of microorganisms that can be found living in the gut. Evidence that bacteria in the gut are important to your health is growing each day. That’s why it is important to have a good balance of different bacteria in the gut. Not having a well-balanced microbiome is an indicator for several health issues, such as obesity (1).

    The bacteria in the gut partially fulfill their role in health by making short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs are saturated fatty acids that contain six or fewer carbon molecules.

    SCFAs are produced by the microbiota when they break down dietary fibers and resistant starches that are not metabolized by the body. To break these substrates down, the microbiota do not need oxygen, which is why this process is called anaerobic fermentation.

    The most important SCFAs that are produced in the gut are acetate, propionate, and butyrate, and all of them have different effects on gut health (2).

    Following the production of SCFAs by microbiota, they are taken up by the first layer of gut cells. They are used directly as fuel by these gut cells and if the colonocytes don’t metabolize them, they are used elsewhere, for example as an energy source for liver cells (3).

    The benefits of short-chain fatty acids

    Other than being fuel for different types of cells, SCFAs have a beneficial effect on your gut health.

    Short-chain fatty acids maintain the intestinal barrier

    One of the benefits of SCFAs is that they help maintain the intestinal barrier. The intestinal barrier is important because it forms a layer of cells that separates the inside of your body from everything that passes through your gastrointestinal tract.

    The structural integrity of the gut wall is key, as pathogens (e.g., viruses, bacteria, and toxins) can enter the body if there are gaps between cells of the gut wall.

    SCFAs help preserve the intestinal barrier by feeding the cells of the gut wall and by stimulating the dilation of blood vessels, resulting in more blood flow to these cells. This is positive as the cells will get more oxygen.


    Short-chain fatty acids increase mucus production in the gut

    SCFAs have also been shown to increase mucus production in the gut. Mucus is a slimy substance that forms a protective layer on your gut wall.

    An increase in mucus production is beneficial since the protective layer between the intestinal cells and the contents of your gut will be thicker. The thicker the better, meaning that this improves the function of the mucus and decreases the risks of pathogenic infiltration (3).


    Short-chain fatty acids reduce gut inflammation

    Gut inflammation is often seen in older people or people with irritable bowel syndrome. SCFAs help bring this inflammation down by altering the DNA expression of gut cells.

    The result of this alteration is a decrease in the release of chemokines, which are signaling proteins that are usually involved in white blood cell attraction. Reducing the recruitment of white blood cells is an anti-inflammatory action (4).


    Short-chain fatty acids can induce satiety

    Researchers have demonstrated that SCFAs are able to modify food intake by promoting satiety and the SCFA responsible for that is propionate, which is also produced by the gut bacteria.

    Propionate is transferred to the liver where it can bind to specific receptors and this leads the liver to start making gut hormones that induce satiety and thus lower hunger (5).

    In short, SCFAs are relevant for gut health, but for overall health as well, which means it is valuable to raise the level of SCFAs in the gut. One way to achieve a higher level of SCFAs is by consuming prebiotics and, less familiar to most people, postbiotics.

    What are prebiotics?

    Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that have a health benefit to the host. There are different types of prebiotics, and they have several health benefits. These health benefits range from supporting your immune system to providing energy to microbiota that help maintain gut health.

    Prebiotics are food compounds, such as fibers and starches, that are not digested by the human digestive system. This means that the prebiotics reach the gut and the microbiota while still intact. The microbiota can digest them, leading to the creation of substrates that can be useful for human health.

    How can prebiotics lead to higher levels of short-chain fatty acids?

    Prebiotics go through anaerobic fermentation, which results in SCFA production. This means that taking prebiotics can help increase SCFA levels in the gut. As we have mentioned above, there are several reasons why you would want this! 

    There are several food products that contain high levels of prebiotic fibers, but it is also possible to increase prebiotic intake by taking supplements.

    One example of a prebiotic fiber food is chicory root. It contains high amounts of prebiotic fiber inulin. Other good foods are arabinoxylan rich foods, such as wheat, corn, rice and oat. Arabinoxylans have a lot of health benefits and they have strong prebiotic properties.

    The downside of prebiotics is that everyone has a different microbiome composition, which means that everyone also experiences different outcomes of prebiotic consumption.

    For this reason, research has been done on alternatives. This led to an increase in interest in something that is more unknown than prebiotics, namely postbiotics.

    Postbiotics are bacterial products, meaning that they aren’t fermented by the gut microbiota after consumption. An example of postbiotics are different short-chain fatty acids, as these are products of the microbiota.

    Do you want to know more about postbiotics? Read this article.

    How can MicrobiomeX® support SCFA levels?

    MicrobiomeX® is an ingredient based on citrus flavonoids that can boost the immune system and improve gut defense. It has several ways to boost gut health and your immune system.

    One way MicrobiomeX® helps is by promoting the growth of butyrate-producing strains of bacteria in the gut. Among these are the Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Clostridium leptum and Roseburia. As mentioned before, butyrate is a SCFA that has several health benefits on the host.

    Want to read more about MicrobiomeX®? Click here!


    The benefits and challenges of synbiotic dietary supplements

    The benefits and challenges of synbiotic dietary supplements

    November 8th, 2022

    In the last years, synbiotic supplements have emerged as an interesting approach to improve gut health. Instead of using only pre- or probiotics, synbiotic products combine both. There are two types of synbiotics, namely complementary and synergistic synbiotics. Currently, most of the synbiotics on the market are complementary products since the formulation and research of synbiotics are quite challenging. In this article, we will explain synbiotic supplements in more detail, including the benefits and formulation challenges.


    What are synbiotic dietary supplements?

    The international scientific association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP), defines synbiotics as: “a mixture comprising live microorganisms and substrate(s) selectively utilized by host microorganisms that confers a health benefit on the host” (1).

    There are two types of synbiotic products: complementary and synergistic synbiotics. Complementary synbiotics are the most found on the market. This type should contain pre- and probiotic compounds that clinically show a health benefit together, but also when used independently from each other. Hence, they do not have to interact with each other.

    On the other hand, synergistic synbiotics do not necessarily contain pro- or prebiotic compounds. Instead, they should contain microorganisms and substrates that are selectively utilized by the provided bacteria in the product. In this case, the combination should have a greater beneficial effect than the microorganisms or substrates independently (2).

    Curious to know about prebiotics? Find out more!

    What are the benefits of synbiotic dietary supplements?

    Pre- and probiotic products can have beneficial effects on gut health, immune function and the production of beneficial metabolites such as short-chain fatty acids. Synbiotic products could have the same health effects, and they potentially decrease cardiovascular risk factors, markers of insulin resistance and prevalence of metabolic syndrome as well (3).

    Furthermore, synbiotic formulations must contain living bacterial strains and the substrates that can be used by these bacterial species specifically. In this way, the species have the chance to feed themselves, proliferate, and adhere to the intestinal wall of the host.

    Another advantage of such synergistic dietary supplement formulations, is that they could address the “responder/non-responder” phenomenon (2).

    The “responder/non-responder” phenomenon means that some subjects respond to a pre- or probiotic product, whereas others do not experience any beneficial effect. The difference could be caused by the fact that everyone has a unique microbial composition in the gut and therefore reacts differently to the treatments.

    By providing the bacterial strains and their substrates simultaneously, the supplied bacteria will have an advantage compared to other bacterial strains that were already present in the gut, since they already have their selectively fermentable substrate to grow on. They could subsequently outcompete some resident microbial strains and establish a niche in the gut.

    In other words, the substrate serves as a sort of fertilizer for the supplied bacterial strains and increases the chance that the bacterial strain will colonize and establish in the gut. In this way, it may be more likely that a subject will respond to the supplement or product and experience a beneficial effect!

    The main challenges in formulating synbiotic dietary supplements

    Although synergistic synbiotics have a lot of potential, formulating them comes with some challenges:

    • Prebiotics or substrates often need to be consumed in larger amounts to have a beneficial effect, which may go along with gastro-intestinal complaints such as feeling bloated or flatulence. To limit these complaints, prebiotics may be added in lower doses, risking the loss of their beneficial health effects.
    • Microorganisms are highly sensitive to the environment, which makes it difficult to store the synbiotic products under many circumstances.
    • The water activity of the substrate: Water activity is a measure of water in a product that is available to react with or attach itself to other material, also known as ‘free’ water. Products with a higher water activity are more likely to be affected by bacteria and fungi. Therefore a substrate with a low water activity should be chosen (4).

    Besides formulation challenges, researching the synergistic synbiotic effects comes with some difficulties.

    The synbiotics that are now often used in studies have been formulated based on criteria such as shelf life, cost, and availability, rather than on metabolic, functional or other characteristics of the microorganisms or substrates.

    In most studies, Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria are included as the probiotic component and inulin, various oligosaccharides, or dietary fibres are chosen as prebiotic ingredient, yet only one human trial showed beneficial effects (5, 6).

    To screen for new promising synbiotics, in vitro studies will first be performed because clinical trials are very expensive and time-consuming. In vitro models simulating the lower and upper gastrointestinal can be helpful, such as the TIM1 and TIM2 model. The TIM-2 model is a dynamic gastrointestinal model, which is used for in-vitro research.

    These models can be used to assess the survival of a probiotic through the gastrointestinal tract and the effect of synbiotics on gut microbiota.

    MicrobiomeX®: the ingredient of choice for your synbiotic formula

    To limit the gastro-intestinal complaints caused by high dosages of substrates, other substrates that have beneficial effects in lower dosages, such as polyphenols, could be used. The polyphenols can be transformed into bioactive molecules or into metabolites that can be used by other microorganisms, eventually resulting in a health benefit for the host.

    MicrobiomeX® is a first-in-class Flavobiotic® researched and developed by BioActor. It is a natural ingredient from citrus, consisting of two active flavanones: hesperidin and naringin. BioActor combined these two powerful phenolic compounds in a unique complex ideal for the formulation of synbiotic dietary supplements in doses ranging from 250 to 500 mg.

    Thanks to its proven high stability in combination with probiotics and its low water activity, MicrobiomeX® is an ideal ingredient to formulate synbiotic dietary supplements. Specifically, MicrobiomeX® can be used as a substrate, and can be metabolized in the gut by bacteria possessing the ramnosidase enzymes such as Lactobacillus acidophilus LA-5, Lactobacillus Brevis and B. animalis ssp. Lactis (7).

    After being metabolized, not only does MicrobiomeX® promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, but the active metabolites that are released in the gut exert a direct antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect resulting in improved overall gut health.

    MEET US - SupplySide West 2022

    Visit us at SupplySide West 2022

    October 25th, 2022

    We are happy to announce that BioActor will participate in SupplySide West 2022, the premier gathering of health & nutrition professionals bringing together buyers and suppliers from throughout the industry. Visit us at Booth #2450!

    Meet us at Booth #2450

    Our team can’t wait to meet you in Las Vegas on November 2nd and 3rd.

    You are welcome to come over for a coffee at our booth #2450 to discuss new business opportunities and get an idea of how our science-based ingredient can help you achieve your product development goals.

    We are excited to discuss our nootropic ingredient for focus, Brainberry® or our recent studies on our innovative gut health ingredient MicrobiomeX®.

    Don’t miss it, we are looking forward to seeing you there!

    Book a meeting!