Is it official? Can we finally talk about gut health in polite company?
"Oh yes, I think we can," asserts Nena Dockery, technical services manager at enzyme supplier NEC, makers of the Biocore line. "It is an area that has traditionally been somewhat taboo, but increasingly more straightforward commercials for high-fibre products and those to treat excess gas have gone a long way toward opening up the digestive tract to discussion. And I think we are beginning to understand that the health of the entire body in many ways is a reflection of the health of the digestive tract."
Certainly companies such as Dannon and Yakult have done a leviathan job in bringing the digestive- (and immunity-) health conditions to the fore, which have led to digestive health consistently topping the lists of fastest-growing categories. But no doubt there is room for growth in the sector.
"Consumers in the US are becoming aware of the link between digestive and immune health, but there is a long way to go before the link is common knowledge," says Mike Bush, vice president of business development at Ganeden Biotech, supplier of BC30 brand probiotic.
The line between gut or digestive health and immune function is a blurry one. Particularly in the probiotics sector, it seems that increasing the beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract can lead to improvements in immunity. Manufacturers looking to source ingredients for products aimed at either the gut or immunity might want to check out both sections in this issue.
"Probiotics improve not only your digestive system but also your immune system. PHD \[probiotic water\] is a better way to get probiotics because it's light and refreshing, and also at a higher dose than yoghurt and with more strains, and also with 4g of prebiotic fibre to enhance the efficacy of probiotics," says Dave Tabaczynski, founder of PHD.
As research demonstrates how prebiotic fibres — inulin, FOS, GOS, resistant starch — enhance the activity of probiotics, every probiotic formulation should incorporate its prebiotic lunch box.
"While the knowledge of probiotics drove a large amount of the growth in the digestive-health segment, we've seen that products like FiberAid, which employs prebiotic food that positively stimulates probiotic bacteria in the gut, also contribute greatly to the expansion of this market," says Kevin Owen, PhD, NAFTA head of technical marketing and scientific affairs at Lonza.
And let us not forget enzymes — the original digestive-health ingredient — which have been used for decades to treat specific digestive disorders. "It is the responsibility of reputable enzyme manufacturers and distributors to do our part in educating not only consumers but also health-care practitioners, whose understanding of the benefits of many nutritional supplements is lacking," says Dockery.
Gut health includes diarrhoea — an excellent use for probiotics — as well as Crohn's disease, acid reflux and heartburn, upset stomach, and celiac disease. Celiac disease is responsible for the rise in gluten-free foods, but the outsized rise in gluten-free products has to be attributable to more than just an explosion of celiacs — likely the nouveau term 'gluten free' has hip connotations regardless of whether it affects all consumers' health or not.
Digestion-resistant maltodextrin. Helps support or maintain intestinal regularity, and clinical studies have shown that it may support intestinal health.
+1 800 637 5843
Decatur, Illinois, USA
Alfred L. Wolff
Water-soluble acacia dietary fibre. High fibre content has a positive influence on the colonic flora (prebiotic effect) and digestion.
+49 40 37676 124
Cargill Health & Nutrition
Known as the 'invisible fibre.' Can incorporate into almost any food or beverage without affecting taste or texture. Research indicates that inulin may enhance dietary-calcium absorption, particularly among preteens and postmenopausal women. Recognized as a prebiotic ingredient that supports natural, healthful bacteria in the lower GI tract.
+1 866 456 8872
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Organic, Kosher and Halal inulin derived from Jerusalem artichoke. Widely used in foodstuffs, especially dairy and baked goods.
+1 909 627 5268
Chino, CA, USA
Galacto oligosaccharides. Prebiotic ingredient derived from dairy. Reported to have good tolerance in humans versus other prebiotics. Closely resembles the oligosaccharides present in human milk. Provides key benefits for digestive health, mineral adsorption and immunity support.
+1 773 569 8599
Natural gum used to bind moisture, reduce staling, provide freeze/thaw stability, add texture and increase fibre content. Studies have shown that fenugreek fiber reduces LDL and increases HDL cholesterol. Bioactive plant component frees amino acids to stimulate insulin secretion, which can limit glucose elevation.
Can replace gluten functionality in baked goods. Adding to gluten-free flour provides a replacement for the protein strands created in gluten development. This allows the bread to trap gases from expanding yeasts, and the cell structure of the original bread is recreated.
+1 800 369 4867
Tucson, Arizona, USA
A unique Aloe vera dehydrated 200x powder from the inner fillet of the Aloe vera leaf. Retains all the natural components found in the fresh, unprocessed leaf. Rich in long-chain polysaccharides. This fraction contains greater than 50 per cent polysaccharides with a molecular weight greater than 1 million dalton.
+1 972 230 9155
DeSoto, Texas, USA
All-natural, marine-based immune modulator that contributes to raising the mucosal immune defenses of the body by increasing circulating and secretory IgA levels. Promotes the synthesis of key cytokines involved in maintaining a healthy intestinal barrier. Helps in the maintenance of optimal TH1/TH2 balance.
+1 418 652 9598
Rimouski, Quebec, Canada
Lacidofil, LP299V, Protecflor, S.boulardii, Probio'Stick
Full line of ready-to-market probiotics covering digestive health, such as protection against AAD and traveler's diarrhoea; reduction of the recurrence of C. difficile infections, reduction of abdominal bloating; alleviation of IBS symptoms, and reduction of gastro-intestinal symptoms related to stress.
+33 5 62 74 55 55
Bifidobacterium b-longum, one of the most stable and researched probiotics in the world. Clinically shown to improve regularity of the immune system and intestinal environment, reduce the incidence of occasional diarrhoea, and provide protection against gastrointestinal discomforts.
+1 914 251 0701
Purchase, New York, USA
All-natural colloidal chelated mineral clay. Toxin absorbent.
+1 406 494 5004
Butte, Montana, USA
National Enzyme Company
Product line of superior digestive enzyme formulations that target all areas of digestion: carbohydrate, protein and fats. Also products geared toward specific gastrointestinal and digestive applications.
+1 800 825 8545
Forsyth, Missouri, USA
Researcher and manufacturer of naturally beneficial probiotic strains since 1983. Total process control, from growing the organisms through production of the final delivery forms.
+1 425 883 9518
Redmond, Washington, USA
Keeps your body in check by maintaining optimum levels of good bacteria, and increasing the strength of your body's natural defenses.
+1 952 935 1707
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA