Biotics for Overall Health
Aug 08 2022
| Our Blog
| Nena Dockery
Digestion has long been an import-ant area of human health and one of the largest categories for nutritional support. many herbals have been used for millennia to improve digestion and treat digestive maladies. In recent years, particularly in the U.S., digestive health products have seen tremendous growth, due in part to the impact of lifestyle factors, such as stress, medication, and poor diet—and that was before COVID. The effects of the sudden lifestyle changes imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic increased the incidence of digestive complaints and the desire to manage them even more.
Probiotics are usually considered to be a more recent entry into the digestive health realm, but they have been around since the early 1900’s, and their source microorgan-isms were present in fermented foods long before that. however, it wasn’t until 2001 that the world health Organization issued a formal definition of probiotics. Since that time, they have dominated the digestive health category and make up a substan-tial segment of immune health products as well. The probiotics segment alone is predicted to increase from $2.83 billion in the U.S. in 2021 to $3.25 billion by 2025, according to NBJ.
COVID-19 brought into clear focus the vulnerability to infectious disease, especially in those who are already battling chronic or lifestyle diseases. Consumers are beginning to understand that many lifestyle diseases begin with something going wrong in the GI tract. Influenced by multi-channel marketing, millennials are particularly attuned to health and wellness. As a result, they have become the largest consumers of probiotics for digestive health.
Getting Ahead of the Pros
Sales of prebiotic products have grown alongside those of probiotics. Prebiotics are typically fibers, indigestible natural sugars, and some polyphenolic ingredients that can stimulate the growth of favorable bacteria in the gut. Targeted prebiotics that increase the growth of specific beneficial bacterial strains that produce short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate, should see the greatest growth, as consumers begin to recognize that some prebiotics are more advantageous than others.
But there are obstacles as well as solutions appearing on the horizon for “-bi-otics.” Probiotics, especially those derived from indigenous human strains, are inher-ently unstable. many can’t survive the acid-ic gastric environment and must be micro-encapsulated. They also have limited shelf stability, leading to challenges in shelf-life labeling. Spore-forming bacterial strains have provided a limited solution to this problem but can be problematic in some manufacturing facilities. The tremendous growth in the attention to the microbiome and its influence on overall health, along with the stability concerns about probiotics, has led to the remarkable rise in the interest in postbiotics.
However, just as in the case of probiotics, it has taken decades to begin to elucidate the characteristics that fit under the definition of “postbiotic,” and even after the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics published their consensus paper in 2021, there is still a great deal of confusion. According to the ISAPP, a postbiotic is defined as “a preparation of inanimate microorganisms and/or their components that confers a health benefit on the host.”
According to this definition, there are a few distinguishing characteristics of a postbiotic, the most significant of which is the inclusion of inactivated microbial cells or cell components, with or without the culture media containing the metabolites.
Heat-treated bacterial strains, such as Lactobacillus LB (like Stratum’s LBi-ome), have been used to treat digestive disorders for over a century but are just now beginning to be well-recognized in the dietary supplement arena. Clinical research in France determined that the inanimate microbial cells of Lactobacillus LB, derived from the indigenous human strains, Limosilactobacillus fermentum and Lactobacillus delbrueckii, especially if combined with the fermentation medium in which the source bacteria were grown, provided substantial gastrointestinal benefits in humans, including structural support for the intestinal wall, inhibition of unfavorable microbial species, and en-hancement of beneficial GI microbiota, such as Bifidobacteria.
Decades of published research on LB have confirmed its efficacy is on par with, if not better than, its living source, and stability is no longer a concern. This opens the door for use in both conventional food and expanded supplement formats.
Within the next year or two, it will be important that a consistent definition is agreed upon among the “-biotics” segment (the IPA and ISAPP) so an accurate message is given to formulators, manufacturers, and distributors of products identified as postbiotics. Once these issues are resolved, postbiotics could easily surpass all other digestive health ingredients in sales because of their stability and versatility. With the increased recognition by the end-consumer that pro-tecting GI health is vital, the time is exactly right for postbiotics.