Synbiotics: The next wave in microbiome health

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Synbiotics, both synergistic and complementary synbiotics, are poised to take gut health to the next level.

Photo © AdobeStock.com/MQ-Illustrations

Photo © AdobeStock.com/MQ-Illustrations

Ask a number of healthcare professionals about the importance of gut health being on the rise and they will agree that this is an area central to health and well-being.

As the science advances, businesses commercialize new solutions, and education increases, consumers are becoming progressively more aware of the pivotal role the gut microbiome plays in overall well-being. Naturally, innovative supplement solutions that address this demand are emerging, and synbiotics are evidently becoming a promising avenue for gut health product innovation.

To understand why synbiotics hold such potential in the future of health and nutrition, we must look to the fundamentals of the gut microbiome.

This vibrant community of microorganisms residing in our digestive system has garnered significant attention in recent years. The gut microbiome contains microbes, including bacteria, totaling in their trillions. Among these, certain species of bacteria are shown to have a positive influence on host health, while others do not. The gut is a finite space, so a well-optimized gut microbiome is one that includes a more favorable balance of the advantageous bacteria.

There are many ways to approach this diversity and balance in the gut microbiome, and we know that lifestyle aspects can influence changes in its composition. What makes this balance so important is that we know beneficial bacteria don’t just aid digestive processes and gastrointestinal health but can also support other aspects of health such as immune and cognitive function. Supporting these microscopic bacteria could truly be the key to a healthier, happier life.

Steven Riley

Steven Riley

Where Do Synbiotics Fit in to Modern Health Management?

Synbiotics are a relatively new addition to the growing ‘biotics’ category. While the definition of a synbiotic may change and expand, at present it’s largely understood to be a combination of prebiotic and probiotic components provided in one delivery method.

These combinations are selected for the qualities of their components, working in tandem to create a more beneficial environment within the gut. While the exact mechanisms of how synbiotics operate are complex, their ultimate goal is simple: to nurture the growth and maintain favorable levels of beneficial gut bacteria, and by doing so, provide one or more health benefits to the host.

For consumers, the appeal of synbiotics lies in their convenient yet multifaceted potential. These products offer a targeted approach to wellness, addressing not only specific digestive issues but also other health benefit areas such as immunity. This versatility aligns perfectly with the evolving needs and preferences of health-conscious individuals seeking comprehensive solutions in a simple daily delivery format.

Furthermore, the concept of synbiotics, combining two or more ingredients, is an opportunity to leverage multiple areas of scientific backing in one product. In an era where evidence-based decision-making is paramount for shoppers, the research supporting synbiotics’ efficacy and safety makes them an attractive choice.

As the field of gut health continues to expand and mature, synbiotics stand at the intersection of cutting-edge science and consumer demand. They represent a proactive step towards achieving a healthier, more favorable gut microbiome—an achievement that can have far-reaching effects on our overall health and well-being. In this exciting era of discovery, synbiotics offer a promising path to a brighter and healthier future where gut health takes center stage in our pursuit of well-rounded wellness.

The commercial potential behind synbiotics is very clear. Market research firm Mordor Intelligence projects that the global synbiotic product category will see a robust compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.2% through 2028, powered by greater consumer awareness of gut health. The time for formulators to explore how synbiotics could further enhance their product ranges is now.

Powering the Synbiotic Revolution

With the appetite for synbiotics growing, how can the category be advanced? By focusing on creating the most scientifically backed synbiotic combinations. Suppliers developing predesigned combinations for the market can reduce a lot of the legwork for formulators.

To grasp the potential of synbiotics fully, it’s essential to differentiate between prebiotics and probiotics, the most common combination of synbiotics.

Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria, selected for their health-promoting benefits; conversely, prebiotics are substrates that promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria already present in the gut. By combining these two elements, synbiotics take a dual-pronged approach to supporting gut health in a single product. This combination introduces more beneficial bacteria to the gut microbiome while nourishing existing or newly introduced “good” bacteria, too.

Notably, not all synbiotic combinations function in the same way. The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) defines two distinct subsets of synbiotics: synergistic synbiotics and complementary synbiotics.

With synergistic synbiotics, specific live probiotics are selectively nourished by the co-administered prebiotic substrate. This targeted utilization of the prebiotic by the probiotic can help deliver a greater health benefit than if the probiotic operated alone. With complementary synbiotics, on the other hand, the components work independently to bring about one or more health benefits for the host.

Both synergistic and complementary approaches have distinct advantages that formulators can tap into when developing synbiotic products. Ultimately, their potential to positively influence the gut microbiome, coupled with their versatile application, positions synbiotics as a valuable tool for formulators looking to develop cutting-edge products that connect with the needs of today’s proactive and engaged health audience.

Strong scientific backing should be front and center, giving formulators and consumers alike added confidence in the end product. As consumer awareness of gut health grows, so does the demand for innovative products that put gut microbiome support in the spotlight. Synbiotics, with their scientific backing and versatile multifaceted approach, are well-poised to meet this demand and revolutionize the way we approach health as a whole.

And, even better news for formulators, the synbiotic category has never been more accessible, with ingredient suppliers offering formulators a powerful tool to create products that promote better gut health and overall wellness. As the synbiotic category continues to expand, it’s an ideal time for formulators to explore these possibilities and unlock the many benefits of this dynamic biotics field.

About the Author

Steven Riley is a seasoned professional in branding, marketing communications, and strategy within the microbiome, food, and functional ingredient sectors. He brings a wealth of expertise to his role as head of B2B and corporate marketing at Clasado Biosciences (Reading, UK) and is responsible for driving the strategic development of the Clasado brand. Riley’s focus is on accelerating the expansion of prebiotic ingredient Bimuno GOS into new regions around the globe and championing the strong scientific portfolio that supports it.

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