prebiotics-and-probiotics

MEET US - BioActor Presenting MicrobiomeX® and Naxus® at the 15th Annual IPC conference

MEET US – BioActor Presenting MicrobiomeX® and Naxus® at the 15th Annual IPC conference

Maastricht, The Netherlands, June 16th, 2022

Press release
The 15th International Scientific Conference on Probiotics, Prebiotics, Gut Microbiota and Health – IPC2022 will be held during 27 – 30 June 2022 in Bratislava. BioActor is an active contributor and confirmed partner of this conference. Hans van der Saag (CEO) will present on our ingredient Naxus®, a prebiotic with metabolic and immune effects, and Yala Stevens (CSO) presents the clinical and mechanistic research on MicrobiomeX® in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients and elderly subjects.

prebiotics-and-probiotics

BioActor Presenting MicrobiomeX® and Naxus® at the 15th Annual IPC conference

The 15th International Scientific Conference on Probiotics, Prebiotics, Gut Microbiota and Health – IPC2022 will be held during 27 – 30 June 2022 in Bratislava.

The IPC conference is the world’s biggest scientific conference that focuses solely on basic and applied research of probiotics, prebiotics, gut microbiota and health. More than 400 scientists from over more than 80 countries have attended the conference last season.

The scientific program will focus on current advances in the research, production and use of probiotics and prebiotics with particular focus on their role in maintaining health and preventing diseases. At IPC, leading scientists from industry and academia present current advances in understanding and influencing the interaction between gut microbiota and human health.

The conference enables the interactive exchange of state-of-the-art knowledge. It is focused on evidence-based benefits, health claims proven in scientific experiments and clinical trials.

BioActor is an active contributor and confirmed partner of this conference. Hans van der Saag (CEO) will present on our ingredient Naxus®, a prebiotic with metabolic and immune effects, and Yala Stevens (CSO) presents the clinical and mechanistic research on MicrobiomeX® in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients and elderly subjects.

Naxus® presentation by Hans van der Saag (CEO)

Naxus® is a native arabinoxylan extract from the wheat endosperm. It is a powerful and well-tolerated prebiotic with metabolic and immune effects. Due to its complex branched structure, Naxus® is slowly and selectively fermented by multiple species of the microbiota, inducing a remarkable bifidogenic effect without causing gas formation and intestinal discomfort. It induces a remarkable microbiota shift and increased short-chain fatty acids production, with proven effects on immune health and glycemic control.

MicrobiomeX® presentation by Yala Stevens (CSO)

MicrobiomeX® is a natural extract from citrus fruit designed to beneficially modulate the microbiome composition in the gut. It’s a first-in-class Flavobiotic® that protects the gut barrier and directly leverages the gut microbiome’s potential. This results in enhanced immune health, as well as anti-inflammatory effects.

IBS is a functional gastrointestinal disorder with various symptoms including pain and discomfort in the abdomen. Also, elderly often develop imbalances in their gut microbiota and often experience discomfort.

Patients with IBS and elderly would benefit substantially from treatments that could relieve their symptoms and improve their gut health. The flavonoids in MicrobiomeX® have the potential to benefit individuals with gastrointestinal conditions because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Business opportunities

The IPC conference is a great opportunity to reconnect with colleagues from all over the world and make new contacts. Hans van der Saag (CEO) and Yala Stevens (CSO) will be there to represent BioActor’s portfolio, with a focus on our gut health ingredients. Feel free to pass by at any time to chat about our innovative ingredients for gut health support!

We look forward to meeting you in Bratislava!

The IPC 2022 conference will take place from 27 to 30 June 2022.

Where: Hviezdoslavovo námestie 3, 811 02 Bratislava, Slovakia

About BioActor

BioActor, based in Maastricht, Netherlands, is a product development company that supplies proprietary bioactive formulations to the nutrition & healthcare industry. The company focuses on the development of innovative bioactives that address active living and healthy ageing. The goal is to provide the nutrition & healthcare industry with science-based innovations that confer a real health benefit to the consumer.

For further information, see www.bioactor.com or visit https://microbiomex.com/ or https://naxus.nl/


MicrobiomeX® nominated as finalist for 2022 NutraIngredients-USA ‘Ingredient of the Year’

MicrobiomeX® nominated as finalist for 2022 NutraIngredients-USA ‘Ingredient of the Year’

Maastricht, Netherlands, June 2nd, 2022

Press release
BioActor is delighted to share that MicrobiomeX® was nominated as a finalist for the 2022 NutraIngredients-USA ‘Ingredient of the Year’ in the category Prebiotic. NutraIngredients-USA Awards honour the best and brightest in ingredients, finished products, companies, people and initiatives in the nutrition and dietary supplements industry.

MicrobiomeX-is-a-finalist-for-the-NutraIngredients-Awards

Finalist for 2022 NutraIngredients-USA ‘Ingredient of the Year’

We are excited to announce that MicrobiomeX® was nominated as a finalist for the 2022 NutraIngredients-USA ‘Ingredient of the Year’ in the category Prebiotic.

The NutraIngredients brand has led the online news source in the nutrition industry for over 19 years, providing insights into the functional food and supplement market in North America, ranging from investments and innovation to ingredients, product formulation, regulation, consumer trends and more!

Specifically, NutraIngredients-USA Awards honour the best and brightest in ingredients, finished products, companies, people and initiatives in the nutrition and dietary supplements industry. With a focus on innovation, long-term market success and state-of-the-art research, it is an honour that MicrobiomeX® was nominated a finalist!

MicrobiomeX® is a first-in-class Flavobiotic® that has been clinically proven to improve the SCFA profile, lower gut inflammation and enhance immunity through its precision prebiotic effect. Beneficial changes in the microbiota are induced at a low dose of 250-500 mg, and MicrobiomeX® is stable with probiotics.

“Special thanks goes out to our US distributor SEPPIC with whom we collaborated to get there”, says Joris Kretzers, Sales Manager Western Europe & North America of BioActor. “We are very proud of this achievement and are looking forward to the winner announcement in July!”

About BioActor

BioActor, based at the Maastricht Health Campus, Netherlands, is a life science company that has developed a range of proprietary bioactive ingredients for the nutrition & consumer health industries. The company focuses on the development of plant-based health ingredients for active living and healthy ageing. The goal is to provide the nutrition & consumer health industries with clinically tested innovations that confer a real health benefit to the consumer.

Feel free to contact BioActor via info@bioactor.com for more information on the possibilities MicrobiomeX® has to offer.

Further information can be found on:  www.microbiomex.com and www.bioactor.com


Can-Prebiotics-and-Probiotics-help-relieve-IBS-symptoms?

Can Prebiotics and Probiotics help relieve IBS symptoms?

Can Prebiotics and Probiotics help relieve IBS symptoms?

May 19th, 2022

Prebiotics and probiotics are an interesting topic for people with gastrointestinal disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Researchers have conducted various studies regarding their influence on improving IBS symptoms. In this article, we will explain the different types of IBS and how prebiotics and probiotics may be beneficial in managing this chronic long-term condition.

Can-Prebiotics-and-Probiotics-help-relieve-IBS-symptoms?

What is IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic condition that affects the quality of people’s lives and includes symptoms such as abdominal pain or discomfort, bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea [1].

Some studies have estimated that more than 9% of the worldwide population suffers from IBS, with women 1.5 to 3 times more likely to experience IBS symptoms [2].

To date, IBS causes are still unknown and some possible factors that are responsible for IBS, include physiological disturbances, genetics, and digestive motility [3]. Based on the abnormal manifestation of the bowel movements, IBS has four subtypes [4, 5].

  1. IBS-C: Constipation prevailing
  2. IBS-D: Diarrhea predominant
  3. IBS-M: Mixed of Constipation and Diarrhea
  4. IBS-U: Unspecified when a patient does not belong to one of these categories

Probiotics and IBS

Although the causes of IBS are still unknown, it has been suggested that an imbalance of the gut microbiota can be responsible for IBS development.

Probiotics are live microorganisms that confer a health benefit on the host by decreasing the harmful bacteria and supporting the gut’s natural bacteria [6]. If you want to increase the good bacteria in your body, various fermented foods and supplements include probiotics.

As it concerns food, a few suggestions might be yoghurt, tempeh, kombucha and kimchi , while supplements usually include beneficial strains like Saccharomyces Boulardii, Bifidobacterium Bifidum, Bifidobacterium Lactis, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, and Lactobacillus Plantarum.

Research has shown that IBS symptoms can be improved by the daily consumption of Probiotics, even if the exact mechanism is still not completely understood [7]. Probiotics can act in different ways depending on the type of IBS and other factors such as age and gender [8].

It is proposed that Probiotics may improve IBS symptoms by [9]:

• Inhibiting the colonisation of pathogens in the gut
• Enhancing the gut barrier function
• Boosting the immune system
• Improving digestive functions
• Reducing inflammation in the gut and gas formation

Prebiotics and IBS

Prebiotics are usually non-digestible fibre compounds that are fermented by the gut microbiota, stimulating the growth and/or activity of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) in the gut [10]. To classify these compounds as prebiotics, they need to comply with three requirements [11]:

• be non-digestible and resistant to breakdown by stomach acid and enzymes in the human gastrointestinal tract
• be fermented by living microorganisms in the gut
• stimulate the growth and/or activity of beneficial bacteria (probiotics)

Research into the role of prebiotics in managing IBS symptoms is conflicting and shows that the beneficial effect may be subjective and depend on the IBS and type.

For example, some studies found that soluble fibres such as psyllium and inulin may provide significant pain relief for IBS patients with constipation and/or diarrhoea. In contrast, other studies found that the effect is limited.

Prebiotics act by stimulating the growth of a bacterium that produces lactic acid called Bifidobacterium. Interestingly, Bifidobacterium has been associated with improved gastrointestinal symptoms in people with IBS. More specifically, this genus lowers the pH to desirable levels for beneficial microbes and undesirable levels for pathogenic bacteria
[12].

The consumption of specific prebiotics such as arabinoxylans from wheat (AX) can increase the amount of Bifidobacterium in the colon.

In addition, there are also molecules with known prebiotic activity, such as citrus-derived flavonoids. Research has shown that these compounds can reach the colon without being digested and are metabolised by the gut microbiota, stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria..

These prebiotic flavonoids are different from prebiotic fibres because they are not fermented but rather deglycosylated by the gut microbiota. Furthermore, their ability to work at low doses is associated with their high tolerance as opposed to fibres. Finally, the lack of fermentation avoids gas formation and the resulting feeling of bloating and flatulence.

Multiple studies have shown better protection of gut mucosa against colonisation by pathogens and viruses. Also, citrus flavonoids allow greater production of Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) like butyrate and propionate, important compounds for the immune system and metabolic functions.

The bottom line

IBS is a chronic condition that affects a large part of the world’s population.

There is no known cure for this condition, but there are many treatment options to reduce or eliminate symptoms, such as dietary modifications, lifestyle changes, and prescription medications.

In many cases, probiotics and prebiotics may be beneficial in managing the IBS symptoms. However, the beneficial effect is subjective and depends on the IBS type. Therefore, it is essential to understand how dietary changes and supplementations affect the symptoms.


New-in-vitro-co-culture-model-study-published-with-citrus-flavonoid-extract

New in vitro co-culture model study published with citrus flavonoid extract MicrobiomeX®

New in vitro co-culture model study published with citrus flavonoid extract MicrobiomeX®

Maastricht, Netherlands, April 21st, 2022

Press release
British Journal of Nutrition has recently published a new in vitro co-culture model study with a citrus flavonoid extract MicrobiomeX® and its metabolites, hesperetin and naringenin. The novel publication suggests that these citrus flavonoids, as well as their metabolites, may reduce intestinal inflammation.

New-in-vitro-co-culture-model-study-published-with-citrus-flavonoid-extract

New in vitro co-culture model study published with citrus flavonoid extract MicrobiomeX®

MicrobiomeX® is a first-in-class Flavobiotic® developed by BioActor, that combines active ingredients from Citrus sinensis and Citrus paradisi. MicrobiomeX® has already been studied and reported to have various beneficial effects on the gut and immunity. MicrobiomeX® consists of standardised citrus flavonoids, that form active metabolites, hesperetin and naringenin, in the gut after being deglycosylated by the gut microbiota.

In the recently published in-vitro study, a validated co-culture system of Caco-2/THP-1 cells as model for intestinal inflammation and cytokine-induced barrier disruption was used to determine the effects of citrus flavonoids and their metabolites on intestinal inflammation.

During the research, cells were treated with citrus flavonoids, their metabolites, or a vehicle control. Additionally, cells were incubated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS), which is known to induce inflammation and deterioration in epithelial integrity.

The conclusion highlights that hesperetin and naringenin significantly reduced NF-kB activity, leading to a reduction in intestinal inflammation. Pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-8, TNF-α and IL-6 were also significantly reduced after hesperetin and naringenin administration.

The mechanism behind this reduction in inflammation can be ascribed to partial inhibition of the NF-κB signalling pathway.

“We are very happy with the results of this study, as we were able to show that both the citrus flavonoids themselves and their metabolites are able to reduce inflammation in the intestine”, says Yala Stevens, CSO of BioActor. “These new scientific insights on MicrobiomeX® will allow us to consolidate its applications to products targeting gut health and immune function”.

About BioActor

BioActor, based at the Maastricht Health Campus, Netherlands, is a life science company that has developed a range of proprietary bioactive ingredients for the nutrition & consumer health industries. The company focuses on the development of plant-based health ingredients for active living and healthy ageing. The goal is to provide the nutrition & consumer health industries with clinically tested innovations that confer a real health benefit to the consumer.

Feel free to contact BioActor via info@bioactor.com for more information on the possibilities MicrobiomeX® has to offer.

Further information can be found on:  www.microbiomex.com and www.bioactor.com


TIM-2 in-vitro-gastrointestinal-model

What is the TIM-2 system? An in-vitro model of the colon

What is the TIM-2 system? An in-vitro model of the colon

April 8th, 2022

The TIM-2 model is a dynamic gastrointestinal model, which is used for in-vitro research. The TIM-2 model can be used to study changes in the microbiota composition and the production of beneficial molecules in the gut. It resembles the human large intestine, including peristalsis, dialysis, and microorganisms. It is a good model that provides short experiment durations and the studies done with it are highly reproducible.

TIM-2 in-vitro-gastrointestinal-model

What is the TIM-2 model?

The TIM-2 (TNO in-vitro) model is a computer-controlled dynamic in-vitro gastrointestinal model of the colon used in research to study changes in the microbiota composition.

This model closely mimics part of the human large intestine, including its microorganisms, peristaltic movements, temperature (37ºC) and acidic pH (5.8).

What is the TIM-2 model used for in research?

The TIM-2 model has a wide range of applications in research. It can be used to study changes in the microbiota composition and production of beneficial molecules such as short-chain fatty acids associated with specific dietary patterns or ingredients and, consequently, to increase human health through the understanding of microbiota.

Due to the health benefits of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), many studies have focused on carbohydrate fermentation and the subsequent production of SCFA.

However, it has also been used to study the effects of probiotics after antibiotic treatment, fermentation of prebiotic fibres, metabolization of molecules such as flavonoids and even to investigate the differences in microbiota from lean and obese individuals.

Watch the interview with prof. Koen Venema

Difference between TIM-2 model and other in-vitro models

Compared to other in-vitro models, TIM-2 holds some unique features, which allow predicting what would happen in an actual clinical trial.

The way the peristaltic movements are produced in the TIM-2 model gives a better mixing of the components than what would be accomplished by stirring or shaking. Thanks to this, in TIM-2 there is no phase-separation of solids and liquids, which is what occurs in other models.

On the other hand, in vivo microbial metabolites are normally taken up by the gut epithelium. This is, of course, not possible in an in-vitro model, but the TIM-2 model features a unique dialysis system that removes these metabolites produced by microorganisms.

The accumulation of these microbial metabolites would otherwise result in the inhibition or death of the microorganisms present in the model. Therefore, the dialysis system allows maintaining a highly active microbiota, with a similar density to that found in the human intestine.

In other systems, metabolites tend to accumulate. In fact, with the TIM-2 model, since all the microbial metabolites are collected, they can be measured, which is something not possible in a real-life setting.

What are the advantages and limitations of the TIM-2 model?

Advantages of the TIM-2 model include:

Short experiment duration. Compared to other models, experiments are quick, usually taking three test days or even less.

Presence of peristaltic movements and dialysis system. These two unique features allow predicting what would happen in an actual clinical trial.

Single parameter study. If a single parameter in the system is changed, the effect of that parameter on the microbiota can be studied.

Highly reproducible. Since the model is computer-controlled, it is highly reproducible.

Like other in-vitro models, the TIM-2 model has some limitations, which include:

Absence of gut epithelial cells, immune cells and neurons. However, samples can be taken and incubated with these kinds of cells to investigate interactions.

Based mostly on healthy individuals. The model has been developed based on data coming from mostly healthy individuals. For this reason, it is unclear exactly which parameters to adjust when simulating patient populations.

Absence of feedback mechanisms. Due to this, as with similar in-vitro models, the results will always be an indication of what may occur in real life and, therefore, they should be interpreted carefully.


Microbiomex supports immunity

Three ways MicrobiomeX® supports your immune system

Three ways MicrobiomeX® supports your immune system

March 25th, 2022

The knowledge about gut microbiota and its connection with the immune system is increasing every day and so is the consumption of science-based products helping consumers achieve their immunity goals. MicrobiomeX® is a nutraceutical ingredient based on citrus flavonoids that can boost your immune system by improving the gut microbiota composition stimulating the production of butyrate, increasing the level of antibody SIgA, and lowering the level of intestinal inflammation.

Microbiomex supports immunity

The connection between gut microbiota and immune system

Every day the body is exposed to different pathogens that can potentially cause disease. The immune system can protect the body from these intruders and the gut microbiota plays a crucial role in doing so.

The microbiome consists of a collection of bacteria living in your gut. Primarily, the good bacteria residing in the intestine adhere to the gut wall. Once the gut wall is full of these bacteria, other pathogens cannot adhere. In this way, beneficial bacteria prevent bad bacteria from “sticking” to the gut mucosa [1].

Moreover, these bacteria produce important molecules such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) that are involved in improving immune function and lowering gut inflammation.

What is MicrobiomeX®?

MicrobiomeX® is an ingredient based on citrus flavonoids that can boost the immune system and improve gut defense.

BioActor developed MicrobiomeX® and, together with Maastricht University and Wageningen University, researched the ingredient and confirmed its health benefits in multiple clinical, ex-vivo and in-vitro studies.

Clinical research in different study populations has shown that MicrobiomeX® has a direct effect on gut health and immunity by being metabolized by gut microbiota and positively changing the microbiota composition. This is what we call Flavobiotic® effect.

MicrobiomeX® is standardize for two important citrus flavonoids: hesperidin (>85%) and naringin (>5%)

The Flavobiotic® effect and immune boosting effects have been demonstrated at low dose from 250mg to 500mg in a dose dependent fashion.

Three ways MicrobiomeX® supports your immune system

If you are considering including MicrobiomeX® in your formulation, you should know this:

1. MicrobiomeX® positively changes the microbiota composition helping stimulate the production of butyrate.

When health-promoting bacteria are present in the gut, they help protect your gut wall from pathogens and bad microorganisms. MicrobiomeX® has been shown to help the growth of beneficial microbiota in the gut, for example strains that belong to the phylum Firmicutes.

Not only helps MicrobiomeX® with maintaining a protective layer against bad microorganisms, but it also promotes butyrate-producing strains such as Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Clostridium leptum and Roseburia. This results in higher levels of butyrate [2].

This is beneficial, mainly because butyrate inhibits nuclear factor κB (NF-κB). Dysregulation of NF-κB is often seen in inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. This means, that by increasing butyrate levels in the gut and consequently inhibiting NF-κB MicrobiomeX® helps lower inflammation in the gut [3].

 

2. MicrobiomeX® increases Secretory Immunoglobulin A

After four weeks of daily 500 mg MicrobiomeX®, fecal Secretory Immunoglobulin A (SIgA) significantly increased in healthy elderly.

Why is this good news?

IgA is the antibody that is the most produced by the body and it is primarily found in the gastrointestinal system, where it plays a big role in keeping your intestinal microbiota in check. IgA directly binds to pathogens such as bad bacteria and viruses and neutralizes them.

Neutralization of pathogens stops them from colonizing the mucosal layer of the gut wall and infiltrating the cells of the gut to cause illness. This protection mechanism is known as ‘immune exclusion’ and makes SIgA a key factor in your immune system.

SigA activation and gut function

3. MicrobiomeX® lowers gut inflammation

Consumption of MicrobiomeX has shown to lower calprotectin levels. Calprotectin is found in different parts of the body, and it is an indicator of chronic inflammation.

Typically, older people and people with irritable bowel syndrome or leaky gut syndrome have chronically increased levels of calprotectin [4].

Gut inflammation leads to a lesser functioning gut barrier, which makes it easier for pathogens to infiltrate your body. MicrobiomeX® has been shown to decrease fecal calprotectin, indicating it lowers gut inflammation and thus, your gut health benefits from this product.

Moreover, MicrobiomeX® was shown to be able to lower NF-κB levels in a co-culture study with Caco-2 cells line and macrophages. NF-κB is a proinflammatory transcription factor involved in the production of inflammatory chemokine such as TNF-a, which accordingly was shown decreased in the same study.

The bottom line

There are several ways your gut helps to fight against pathogens that cause disease. It is good to boost your immune system and the citrus flavonoids in MicrobiomeX® offer a way to support your immune system naturally.


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.


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.