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Manufacturers of prebiotic ingredients are now being more selective about the probiotic bacteria that’s targeted.
Prebiotics are a relatively small part of the digestive health space for now, when compared with probiotics, but consumer awareness of the term prebiotic is growing. Consumers understand that fiber is a prebiotic and that eating foods rich in fiber is good for digestive health. Fiber claims on functional foods are definitely growing, and formulating with fiber is becoming a more ubiquitous product solution because including fiber can be a way to reduce sugar in foods while not losing bulking properties. As supplements, probiotics reign supreme, but concepts of digestive health are evolving causing a shift in attention toward the value of prebiotics.
“The benefits of prebiotics over probiotics is that they help you recolonize [your microbiome],” explained Mark Thurston, president of AIDP (City of Industry, CA). However, manufacturers of prebiotic ingredients are now being more selective about the probiotic bacteria that’s targeted. “If you use something non-selective, it’s going to work on the bad stuff as well as the good stuff,” said Thurston.
AIDP, for its part, provides product formulators with a few choices. For example, PreticX, a xylooligosaccharide, is supposed to boost Bifidobacterium and improve the ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes. “As you get older, your Bifidobacteria declines, and there’s a lot of work that says that if your ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes gets out of kilter, that’s when you get metabolic syndrome,” explained Thurston. By supplementing with PreticX at a dose as low as 1 g/day, he said, “you can recondition or rebalance your microbiome.”
To improve motility, another AIDP product derived from Zespri SunGold kiwi called Livaux supports the abundance of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii. “If you’re suffering from inflammation, this is often the result of low levels of Faecalibacterium, which make up 5% to 15% of your colon bacteria,” said Thurston. “We find that people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease are down to about 2%. The bacteria are anaerobic and do not survive in oxygen, so there is no way to take it as a probiotic.”
Another novel prebiotic ingredient that is not a fiber is PreforPro, a bacteriophage cocktail from Deerland Probiotics & Enzymes (Kennesaw, GA). A bacteriophage is a virus that targets specific bacteria to infect and populate. In this case, PreforPro targets four different E. coli strains.
“They’re going to find their host, they’re going to take over that bacterial genetic machinery to make copies of themselves, and then the progeny go out to find more hosts,” explained John Davidson, director of innovation and education for Deerland, to Nutritional Outlook. “So as long as the host are present, the phage progeny increase until they’ve reduced the population of the host to the point where they can’t find them, and get flushed out of the system.”
Prior to SupplySide East, Deerland announced the results of a study that found PreforPro reduced the level of E. Coli strains in subjects, as well as increased the population of other beneficial bacteria, without causing a disruption in the global microbiotic population.
“The comparison I like to make is that if you put sticks in the sand, and you pull the stick out of the sand, it doesn’t just leave a hole, the sand fills in the hole, and it’s the same in the gut,” explains Davidson. “If you take out a competitor, all the other competitors are going to occupy that real estate and absorb those nutrients.”