A company representative from AIDP told Nutritional Outlook that consumer interest in gut health is growing as the research community begins to unravel the complex connections between gut health and everything from healthy skin to cognitive function.
Photo © iStockphoto.com/VikaValter
Digestive health continues to be one of the hottest topics in the natural products industry, and at March’s Natural Products Expo West trade show, many companies showcased ingredients targeting specific functions of the gut. Industry understanding about digestive health, including a better understanding of the gut microbiota, is expanding thanks to new research. A company representative from AIDP Inc. (City of Industry, CA) told Nutritional Outlook that as the research community begins to unravel the complex connections between gut health and everything from healthy skin to cognitive function, consumers awareness about gut health-and interest in products aimed at improving digestive health-is growing as well.
Samantha Ford, business development director, AIDP, said that new research continues to emerge about the links between a healthy gut and a healthy brain, immune system, skin, and more. “The exact mechanisms [of action by which digestive-health ingredients exert their health benefits] are continuing to be untangled, and that’s really where the research is becoming more focused.” And in terms of the gut microbiota, she added that researchers are continuously discovering new information about which species of bacteria, and in what ratios, are linked to specific health outcomes. “With that information,” she said, “we’re starting to look at ways to alter the microbiome in a targeted manner.”
For instance, she explained, research has determined that there are specific classes of bacteria-Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes-that, if found in the microbiome in unbalanced ratios, can lead to negative weight management and other metabolic issues. Ford said that AIDP’s xylooligosaccharide (XOS) prebiotic ingredient PreticX has been found to “selectively alter the ratio of these two classes of bacteria.”
Ford said that AIDP currently has several trials underway, including low-dose and combination studies with its digestive-health ingredients PreticX, and two kiwifruit powder concentrates, Actazin and Livaux. Also, while all three ingredients support aspects of digestive health, some also have benefits beyond the gut. Ford said that AIDP’s Livaux gold kiwi-derived ingredient, for instance, has been shown to increase levels of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii (F. prau). F. prau “is one of the most abundant species of bacteria in the gut and plays a critical role in formation of short-chain fatty acids, aiding not only in digestion, but also immune-modulating and anti-inflammatory activity,” she stated.
Consumers are taking note of the seemingly daily research developments about the health of their microbiomes as never before, said Ford. “Consumers are simply building a greater understanding of this link and placing a heavier emphasis on their gut health as it relates to several facets of good health.” She noted that consumers today also have a greater awareness of how additional lifestyle factors like diet and stress contribute to or diminish the health status of their microbiomes. “They recognize that today’s Western diet, lifestyle habits, and daily stressors throw their digestive system out of whack, whether they experience symptoms or not,” Ford said.
“Digestive issues affect every single person at some point,” Ford continued. “Obviously, some more than others, but no matter who you are, at some point, whether you’re travelling or if you have a little extra stress, you’re going to have a little bit of an imbalance [in your microbiome].” Given that consumers are tuning in to what the research community is discovering about the connections between digestive and general health, interest in the digestive-health category is not likely to lose steam anytime soon. “With the booming growth of the digestive health space,” said Ford, “it’s clear that consumer awareness is growing enough to be the driving force.”