postbiotics

Exploring the power of postbiotics: benefits and uses

Exploring the power of postbiotics: benefits and uses

October 18th, 2023

Currently, probiotics and prebiotics are widely known for their favorable impact on gut health. More recently, the focus has expanded to include postbiotics, which encompass products or byproducts generated through microbial fermentation and are also acknowledged for their health advantages. Nevertheless, these postbiotics remain unfamiliar to most consumers. Dive into our new blog to find out more!

postbiotics

What are postbiotics?

Gut health is key to your overall well-being and there are many ways to support your gut health. Prebiotics and probiotics are well-known, but what about probiotics?

Postbiotics encompass a class of substances defined as “preparations containing non-living microorganisms or their components, which bring about positive health effects for the host.” In simpler terms, they refer to the byproducts or metabolic products that result from the fermentation processes of bacteria.

This category of postbiotics encompasses various kinds of compounds. Among them are short-chain fatty acids, known for their multiple health advantages, as well as fragments of microbial cells, functional proteins, extracellular polysaccharides, cell lysates, and teichoic acid.

In contrast to probiotics, postbiotics offer health benefits without requiring a live state. This characteristic contributes to their stability compared to the live bacteria they originate from. [1]

Why should I use postbiotics?

A question on your mind might be: why should you consider postbiotics when you’re already using pre- and probiotics?

It’s crucial to recognize that everyone’s gut microbiota composition differs. As a result, the way various components are processed can vary from person to person.

This means that the impact of probiotics and prebiotics on health can differ among individuals. A way to control for this is by consuming postbiotics. You are then directly taking the beneficial components, so differences in microbiota composition don’t have an effect in this case.

If you’re interested in learning more about prebiotics, you can refer to this article. Alternatively, if you’re already familiar with prebiotics, you might find this article on synbiotics to be of interest!

What are the advantages for health that postbiotics offer?

Research indicates that postbiotics can bring forth a range of health benefits, including:

Balancing the microbiota: Elements found in postbiotics, like butyrate, a type of short-chain fatty acid, prove advantageous for maintaining gut health. [2]

Influencing the immune system: Butyrate has the ability to trigger the generation of T cells within the intestinal tract, thereby aiding in the regulation of immune responses. Additional components, such as fragments of microbial cell walls, can enhance the production of cytokines—chemical messengers that mitigate inflammation and bolster immune reactions. [2,3]

Shaping metabolic processes: Short-chain fatty acids such as propionate play a role in enhancing insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. Simultaneously, butyrate spurs the generation of an antioxidant called glutathione. [1,2]

Assisting in weight loss: Short-chain fatty acids could contribute to weight loss by influencing eating behaviors. This is attributed to the release of hormones that induce a sense of fullness. [1]

Easing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): In a study involving 443 individuals with IBS, the administration of orally ingested, heat-inactivated Bifidobacterium bifidum, a postbiotic, notably alleviated IBS-related symptoms such as abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating, and irregular bowel habits. [4] Curious to read about the effect of pre- and probiotics on IBS symptoms? Read more here!

Potential additional advantages: Administering inactivated lactic acid bacteria orally might aid in eradicating Helicobacter pylori infection, addressing chronic unexplained diarrhea, and mitigating the adverse impacts of stress. [1]

How can I incorporate postbiotics into my diet effectively?

Postbiotics might not be as readily available as probiotics and prebiotics, but you can acquire them from health food stores or online retailers. They are generally regarded as safe and well-tolerated.

Given that postbiotics are a product of bacterial fermentation within your gut, you can enhance their production by consuming foods abundant in probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotic-rich options include fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, tempeh, and kombucha. For prebiotics, focus on incorporating high-fiber foods into your diet, such as vegetables and whole-grain products.


BIOACTOR and PIXIENCE start collaboration on validation of skin imaging technology in nutrition studies

BIOACTOR and PIXIENCE start collaboration on validation of skin imaging technology in nutrition studies

BIOACTOR and PIXIENCE start collaboration on validation of skin imaging technology in nutrition studies

MAASTRICHT/TOULOUSE, August 22nd, 2023

Press release
BIOACTOR and PIXIENCE announce the start of a collaboration to test and validate an innovative skin imaging and testing technology in the context of a clinical study with a nutritional bioactive.

BIOACTOR and PIXIENCE start collaboration on validation of skin imaging technology in nutrition studies

BIOACTOR and PIXIENCE announce the start of a collaboration to test and validate an innovative skin imaging and testing technology in the context of a clinical study with a nutritional bioactive.

PIXIENCE has developed an innovative skin image capturing device (C-Cube) and image analysis software (QuickScale) for the evaluation of several skin parameters, including the evaluation of 3D images.

BIOACTOR has expertise in the clinical validation of health effects of natural compounds and is now setting-up a clinical testing platform around nutritional actives for skin health.

PIXIENCE is developing the C-Cube Clinical Edition and BIOACTOR will carry-out beta testing of the Clinical Edition in a new clinical study on an oral nutritional product. PIXIENCE will provide technical assistance to BIOACTOR for the skin image analysis in this new clinical study.

Sebastien Mangeruca, CEO of PIXIENCE comments:
We have initially developed our C-Cube and QuickScale suite of technologies for the evaluation of topical cosmetic products. BIOACTOR’s experience in running clinical studies for nutrition and its active programme around nutrition and skin health, makes them an ideal partner for testing and validating of our C-Cube Clinical Edition for nutrition studies”.

Hans van der Saag, CEO of BIOACTOR comments:
BIOACTOR is delighted to work with PIXIENCE, as PIXIENCE has developed a best in class skin imaging and analysis technology that will allow us to further improve our skin health for nutrition platform. BIOACTOR wants to bring clinically backed innovation to the nutrition industry. BIOACTOR tests all of its products in scientifically robust human intervention studies, working with partners like PIXIENCE and the Department of Health and Nutrition of Maastricht University.

About BIOACTOR

BIOACTOR, based in Maastricht, Netherlands, is a product development company that develops and supplies proprietary bioactive formulations to the health and sports nutrition industry. All BIOACTOR’s products are clinically tested, doping-free and from natural origin. The main focus areas are: gut microbiome, brain health, energy & vitality and skin health.

For more information, please contact:

BioActor
Hans van der Saag, CEO
Email: hans.vandersaag@bioactor.com

Pixience
Sébastien Mangeruca, CEO
Email: Sebastien.mangeruca@pixience.com
www.pixience.com


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.


New publication Naxus® consumption supports weight management through reduction of actual calorie intake in an ad libitum meal

New publication: Naxus® consumption supports weight management through reduction of actual calorie intake in an ad libitum meal

New publication: Naxus® consumption supports weight management through reduction of actual calorie intake in an ad libitum meal

Maastricht, The Netherlands, 27th July 2023

Press release
This randomized controlled crossover study showed Naxus®’ potential for appetite control and weight management. In a 21-day trial with healthy adult males, it was reported that consumption of a blend of Naxus® and inulin showed significantly lower calorie intake in an ad libitum meal (838 kcal vs. 1023 kcal) while reporting no changes in appetite. The blend was also shown to increase faecal SCFA concentrations. These results highlight Naxus®’s potential to transform appetite regulation.

New publication Naxus® consumption supports weight management through reduction of actual calorie intake in an ad libitum meal

Naxus®: clinically validated and developed by BioActor

Naxus® is a clinically validated arabinoxylan extract developed by BioActor, derived from wheat endosperm. It has been extensively studied and shown to have beneficial effects on microbiota composition, glycaemic control, and immune system function.

Naxus® promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria, production of Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) and improves glycaemic control by inducing GPR43 signaling which leads to reduced glucose peaks and improved insulin sensitivity (1, 2). It also strengthens the immune system through various mechanisms (3, 4, 5). It is a well-researched ingredient with significant potential for enhancing overall health and well-being.

The study: Chronic consumption of a blend of inulin and Naxus® reduces energy intake in an ad libitum meal but does not influence perceptions of appetite and satiety

Introduction

Two dominant bacterial strains account for more than 90% of the total bacterial gut community: Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes (6). They are widely believed to have important effects on the maintenance of normal intestinal homeostasis. Stressors associated with modern lifestyles (e.g. low fibre diet) can chronically change the bacterial gut composition and lead to the increase of more virulent microbes that adversely affect the health of the host.

Gut microbiota break down fibre from our diet and produce SCFAs such as propionate, acetate, and butyrate as a result. These metabolites lead to activation of a pathway that is linked to appetite reduction.

Specifically, propionate and acetate bind to a receptor called GPR43, which is found in cells lining our stomach and intestines (7). Activation of GPR43 leads to a cascade of signals eventually triggering the production of GLP-1 and PYY, two hormones involved in inducing satiety.

Naxus has previously been shown to increase propionate levels and GLP-1 production (8). In this current study, it was investigated whether a blend of Naxus® and inulin would positively affect satiety and energy intake.

Methods

In this cross-over study, the authors investigated the effect of inulin + Naxus® on 20 healthy adult males aged between 22 and 55 with no evidence of metabolic or cardiovascular disease.

Each participant took part in both control and intervention conditions, each lasting 21 days. Both the treatment and control groups had to drink two sachets of dry powder dissolved in 150 ml of water daily for 21 days. Therefore, the participants consumed the intervention (or the control) sachet for 21 days following a 14-day period washout, and afterwards the control (or the intervention) sachet for an additional 21 days. The intervention sachet contained 2 g of Naxus® and 2 g inulin, whereas the control sachet contained 4 g of maltodextrin.

After a 14-day wash-out period, participants switched to the other drink for another 21 days. The study comprised 4 visits to assess the participants’ perceived satiety and appetite, the energy intake in an ad libitum meal, faecal SCFA concentration, and the faecal microbiota composition.

Results

Appetite control and calorie intake

The study found that the mean energy intake in an ad libitum meal were significantly lower during the treatment period (838 kcal) compared to the control period (1023 kcal) (p<0.05).

Surprisingly, no changes in self-reported appetite were found. This difference between self-reported appetite and actual calorie intake is common in studies involving prebiotics, which is why measuring actual food intake provides a more objective measure.

Naxus and Inulin results on kcal intake

Microbial composition

Significant changes in the microbial composition of fecal samples were noted, showing noteworthy increases in the abundance of Bifidobacteria (p = 0.035), Lactobacilli (p = 0.061), and Propionibacteria (p = 0.02).

Short-chain fatty acids

Moreover, these changes were accompanied by an elevation in the concentration of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which are known to be associated with gut health. More specifically, an increase of acetate in the faeces sample was reported after 21 days (p=0.02). Acetate has the ability to independently influence appetite, which may explain why the participants consumed fewer calories during a single meal.

The hypothesized increase in propionate levels in the faeces sample was only minimal and not statistically significant (p=0.07). However, it is important to note that faecal propionate concentration alone does not reflect the absorption by the body. Additionally, the signals of propionate in the liver and bloodstream, which were not measured in this study, could potentially have a more significant impact on appetite regulation.

Triple effect

Overall, the results show that the chronic consumption of a blend of inulin and Naxus® leads to a reduction in energy intake, an increase in faecal SCFA concentrations, and an increase in beneficial gut bacteria.

Conclusion

This research indicates that a combination of inulin and Naxus® has positive effects on gut health and confirms existing data that Naxus® positively influences appetite control.

This publication also emphasizes the importance of new studies focusing on the effect of Naxus® on enhancing and tailoring nutritional products to promote satiety and help weight management.

Click here to read the complete publication

About BioActor

BioActor, based in Maastricht, Netherlands is part of the Solabia Group and has developed a range of proprietary bioactive ingredients for the nutrition & healthcare industry. We focus on the development of innovative activities that address active living and healthy ageing. Our goal is to provide the nutrition & healthcare industry with science-based innovations that confer a real health benefit to the consumer.

Feel free to contact via info@bioactor.com for more information on the possibilities Naxus® has to offer. Further information can also be found on: www.naxus.nl or www.bioactor.com/products/naxus.


study-wheat-arabinoxylans-on-the-gut-microbiota

New publication demonstrates potential of Naxus® for alleviating IBD through gut microbiota alterations and increased butyrate production in mice

New publication demonstrates potential of Naxus® for alleviating IBD through gut microbiota alterations and increased butyrate production in mice

Maastricht, The Netherlands, 1st May 2023

Press release
In the present study published in Molecules, the leading international, peer-reviewed, open-access journal of chemistry, the authors evaluated the potential positive effects of arabinoxylans (AX) contained in Naxus® on T-cell-dependent colitis. The findings of the study showed that Naxus® was able to induce peripherally induced Treg (pTreg) cells in the colon. This resulted in a reduction of T-cell-dependent chronic colitis due to the increased levels of butyrate-producing bacteria and luminal butyrate levels. These findings implicate that there could be a role for Naxus® in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.

study-wheat-arabinoxylans-on-the-gut-microbiota

Naxus®: a product researched and developed by BioActor

NAXUS®, an arabinoxylan extract obtained from the endosperm of wheat and is known for its beneficial health effects.

Wheat arabinoxylans (AX) are, in turn, a type of non-starch polysaccharide found in the cell walls of wheat grains. AXs are typically composed of a linear β (1-4)-linked xylan backbone with side residues of a-1-arabinofuranose units attached via α-(1-3) and/or α-(1-2) linkage.

Several clinical studies have shown that Naxus® is a powerful and well-tolerated prebiotic which induces a positive effect on the immune system and blood sugar levels by modulating the microbiome composition and Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) production.

Effect of Naxus® on the Gut Microbiota Composition and Colonic Regulatory T Cells: in vitro and in vivo study

Introduction

The study was conducted by the group of Seita Chudan and the groups’ aim was to to understand the effect of wheat-derived arabinoxylan on gut microbiota, colonic regulatory T cells (Tregs) which are a specific subset of T cells that suppresses the immune response, and experimental colitis, this way, discussing the importance of a healthy gut microbiota and its connection to immune function and disease.

Many studies have looked at how AXs from wheat affect the bacteria and compounds in our gut, as well as a type of antibody present in the immune system called Immunoglobulin A (IgA).
However, not many studies have shown how AX might be helpful in treating Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), a condition that is characterized by inflammation of the GI tract. One recent study has looked at how AX might help with a type of IBD called DSS-induced colitis, but it’s still unclear if AX can prevent colitis.

Therefore, it is important to understand how wheat AXs affect the immune system and colitis, particularly in cases caused by the acquired immune system.

Methods

In this study, healthy and chronic colitis model mice were fed with food containing cellulose or Naxus® for 2–6 weeks and subjected to subsequent analysis of the gut microbiota composition and the number of colonic regulatory T cells in both groups.

Results

The results of this study indicate that Naxus® promotes the development of colonic pTregs and helps to reduce T-cell-dependent chronic colitis. The number of colonic regulatory T cells was significantly higher in the Naxus® group compared to the control group. These positive effects may be due to changes in the gut microbiota and increased levels of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), especially butyrate.

results-wheat-arabinoxylans-effects-study

Table 1: Quantification of fecal SCFA in mice fed with food containing CE (cellulose) or AX (n = 8)

Butyrate is produced by certain bacteria in the Lachnospiraceae family, such as Eubacterium and Roseburia spp., Increases in Lachnospiraceae bacteria were linked to an increase in fecal butyrate concentration and a greater number of colonic Tregs in the Naxus®-fed mice.

In a T cell transfer model of chronic colitis, Naxus® was found to improve body weight loss and reduce colonic tissue inflammation, possibly through Treg induction. In addition, in this colitis model, wheat-derived arabinoxylan decreased TNFα production from type 1 helper T cells.
Therefore, Naxus® could be a useful prebiotic for preventing colitis by modifying the gut microbiota and shifting the metabolite production more towards butyrate.

Conclusion

This study shows that Naxus® has positive effects in a mouse model of chronic colitis. These improvements are linked to the alterations in the gut microenvironment by regulating the gut microbiota composition and increasing the number of colonic regulatory T cells, which could have implications for the prevention and treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and other immune-related diseases.

Click here to read the complete publication

About BioActor

BioActor, based in Maastricht, Netherlands, is a product development company that has developed a range of proprietary bioactive ingredients for the nutrition & healthcare industry. The company focuses on the development of innovative activities 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.
Feel free to contact via info@bioactor.com for more information on the possibilities Naxus® has to offer.
Further information can also be found on: www.naxus.nl.


man-with-a-heart-on-his-hands

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.

man-with-a-heart-on-his-hands

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?

Immunology

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.


fruits-and-a-cupcake

Exploring the ways blood sugar impacts your health

Exploring the ways blood sugar impacts your health

April 20th, 2023

Are you aware that your blood sugar levels can change frequently, and it is important to maintain a stable level in order to improve your overall health? In this article, you will get acquainted with the reason your blood sugar levels might fluctuate, the effects of these changes on your health, and tips to help you on maintaining a stable blood sugar level.

fruits-and-a-cupcake

Sugar and blood sugar levels

Sugars and carbohydrates are widely consumed substances across the world. They play a vital role in providing energy to the body and in regulating the blood sugar levels, or blood glucose levels, throughout the day (1).

After a meal, our metabolism works to keep our blood sugar levels steady. It does this by reducing the production of sugar (glucose) and promoting its storage as both short-term and long-term energy reserves (2).

The way your body metabolism responds after eating depends on the type of sugar you consume – simple sugars or complex sugars (1). Foods such as sugar-sweetened foods, beverages, and refined grains are a source of simple sugars, which are associated with higher increases on blood sugar levels.

Sources of complex sugars include minimally processed grains, legumes, and whole fruits. These are considered as a better option to maintain a steady blood sugar level.

When simple sugars and complex sugars are consumed in excess, or under consumed from processed food sources, acute and/or chronic conditions might arise as consequences.

What happens if your blood sugar levels are too high?

We already know that high blood sugar levels might have negative impacts on our health. Stress, some sort of medications, insulin resistance and an unhealthy lifestyle are the core of the increasing of the blood sugar levels (2,3).

Usually, people with higher blood sugar levels tend to experience an increase in feeling thirsty and they have a higher urinating frequency. Experiencing blurred vision, headaches, and fatigue are also symptoms.

On the long term, high blood sugar levels are associated with an increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other organ damages, like nerves, eyes, kidneys, and brain (3).

What happens if your blood sugar levels are too low?

On the other hand, the low blood sugar levels might also have negative impact on your health, occurring when you don’t eat enough carbohydrates according to your nutritional requirements or when the physical exercise is inappropriate in contrast to your food intake (2).

If your body is deprived of having enough fuel to sustain life, the central nervous system won’t be able to synthesize glucose, store, or concentrate glucose from the body circulation (4). As consequence, a brief decrease on the blood sugar levels might cause severe central nervous system dysfunction, and a prolonged decrease might cause cell death and coma.

Commonly, but depending on the severity and duration of the low blood sugar level, people tend to experience shakiness, confusion, irritability, sweating, and a fast heartbeat.

Strategies to maintain a stable blood sugar level

To begin with, it is important to understand what the normal blood sugar levels are. A fasting blood glucose level between 70 and 99 mg/dL is considered normal regardless of some variations caused by diet, physical exercise or medication as mentioned before (12).

When the blood sugar levels are higher or lower than this level some strategies need to be considered:

1. Implementing a healthy diet according to your nutritional needs is one of the strategies to maintain a stable blood sugar levels (5).
Specifically, consuming high in fibre foods such as foods rich in whole grains as source of arabinoxylans seems to be a good adding to a healthy diet along with fruits and vegetables (6). Curious about arabinoxylans? Read our article here.

What’s more? Lean proteins, and healthy fats and limited added sugars consuming are as well associated with better blood sugar control.

2. Physical exercise is an essential part of a comprehensive lifestyle changing (5). Studies have shown that both aerobic and resistance training have positive effects, and that combining the two types of exercise has even more positive effects. This way, combining a healthy eating with physical exercise is crucial on stabilising the blood sugar levels and maintain a healthy weight balance.

Why is it important to keep blood sugar stable?

Summarising, having high blood sugar levels increase the chances of developing obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. On the other hand, having low blood sugar levels can cause problems with cognitive function and other complications. This way, adopting a healthy diet, being physically active, and controlling your weight might helping you on maintaining a stable blood sugar levels and lower the risk of experiencing these adverse health effects.


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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.

Citrus-contains-flavonoids-that-can-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 on 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 in the immune system of the colon (6).

Thus, flavonoids can increase gut barrier function and SCFA production, and 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 a 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, clinical trials have also been done on the butyrate-increasing properties of MicrobiomeX®. All clinical trials are available in the MicrobiomeX® White Paper.

It has also been found that by consuming 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 support.


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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.

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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 not only 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!


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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.

the-benefits-and-challenges-of-synbiotics-dietary-supplements

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.