NutriLeads teases new research on its BeniCaros immune-health prebiotic: 2022 SupplySide West Report

Newly shared results show that BeniCaros was able to improve subjects’ quality of life.

NutriLeads (Wageningen, The Netherlands) continues to unveil new research findings on its BeniCaros upcycled soluble prebiotic carrot fiber ingredient for immune health. At November’s SupplySide West trade show in Las Vegas, the company discussed newly released results from an earlier clinical study. The initial study showed how subjects supplementing with BeniCaros experienced “a training of the innate immune system,” leading to a reduction in the severity and duration of cold symptoms. The newly shared results show that BeniCaros was able to improve subjects’ quality of life.

“What we showed in the first publication was that if people take BeniCaros as a dietary supplement for eight weeks, that leads to training of the innate immune system,” explained Ruud Albers, PhD, chief science officer, NutriLeads, at SupplySide West. “And when we challenged people with a common cold virus in their nasal cavity, we could demonstrate that locally. We could see the acceleration of the local response, and we saw a reduction in the severity and duration of cold symptoms.”

“What we show in the new publication on this same study is that BeniCaros also has an impact on quality-of-life attributes,” he continued. “We saw the impact on people’s ability to do the things that they want to do on a daily basis, such as go to work or exercise.”

The second publication revealed other findings, too. “It’s not only in the respiratory tract where we see [the benefits] but also if we take [a sample] from the blood, bloodwork shows that BeniCaros is ingested and ends up in the gut,” Albers said. “There it is protected and sensed by the cells of the innate immune system that lead to training. These cells then travel through the body—and we could pick that up in the bloodstream.”

Additional findings from the study will soon be revealed in a third paper set to publish next year. These findings will include BeniCaros’s effects on the gut microbiota. Here, said Albers, “We saw some very interesting effects because BeniCaros has a dual mode of action. It leads to training of the innate immune system in the gut, but it also is fermented by the microorganisms in the gut and then selectively stimulates Bifidobacteria.

BeniCaros contains RG-I (rhamnogalacturonan-I) and works on the innate immune system, which Albers described as “the first line of defense.” He said scientists have learned that the innate immune system “can also be trained, which leads to an enhanced responsiveness so that it responds faster,” he said, “and that is exactly what we see with BeniCaros…It offers broad protection, but only when it’s needed. It is not a wide stimulation of the immune system.”

“You don’t want to boost immune function [too much], because then you get all sorts of nasty side effects,” he continued. “But when it is needed, when there is a challenge, we see that the response is faster [with BeniCaros]—and that is actually very important because the immune system is actually the sort of fire brigade of the body. You can imagine: If there is a small fire and you get to it early, you can contain it without a lot of damage, whereas if you get to it later, you have to deal with a much bigger fire.”

Joana Carneiro, PhD, CEO of NutriLeads, added that “in general, immune health is still very much top of mind with consumers, but in a different way.” Namely, she said, more consumers understand that maintaining the immune system should be a daily endeavor, and not just a seasonal one. “They realize that the cold virus is not just a seasonal thing anymore. You need to be prepared by having a higher quality of life when a virus comes. Maybe you cannot avoid the infection, because it’s all around us and we can’t live in lockdown all the time, but you just need to make sure that your body is prepared to fight in the best way possible.”

Consumers are already familiar with carrot as a healthy ingredient, which is a boon for BeniCaros. But educating consumers that carrot’s prebiotic fiber can also serve as an immune health booster will take time, Carneiro said. The ingredient, which enables a dose as low as 300 mg, began development 16 years ago, said Albers, as researchers discovered that carrot is a good source of soluble fiber that can support immunity.

BeniCaros is already on the market in some products. NutriLeads recently partnered with DSM (Parsippany, NJ) to take advantage of DSM’s premix capabilities, Carneiro said. DSM can now offer BeniCaros as an ingredient in its market-ready premix solutions. BeniCaros is also suited for ingredient blends. For instance, she said, “with vitamin C, zinc, and BeniCaros, you have a food package, and then you are really ready for colds and viruses.”