Gut-boosting potential: Diana Food explores prebiotic role of polyphenols

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04 Jun 2018 --- Diana Food has set out to explore the positive impact of polyphenols on the modulation of gut microbiota by creating a research chair to study the prebiotic role of polyphenols. The company is working in close cooperation with Université Laval and its Institute of Nutrition and Functional Foods (INAF - Quebec), as well as Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (CRSNG). The program will explore the effects of fruit and vegetable polyphenols on the modulation of gut microbiota and find out more about the underlying mechanisms of action of these bioactive compounds, alone or combined with probiotic bacteria.

“The health benefits of polyphenols are well understood. These can go from very general health benefits around antioxidants to some things that are far more specific, such as the role of proanthocyanidins (PACs),” Stephanie Pretesacque, Global Category Director Consumer Health at Diana Food, tells NutritionInsight at Vitafoods Europe.

Click to Enlarge“What is interesting is that only about 5 percent of the polyphenols that we absorb are metabolized by the body. We have been working with a research institute in Quebec who have been pioneering the research into how the gut microbiota metabolizes the polyphenols,” Pretesacque says. 

“Based on the knowledge that we have gathered, we decided that we can use this to better understand what the role of polyphenols can be as prebiotics. We are going to look at different sources and it will be a great opportunity to scan new raw materials from both the Amazonian and Nordic regions of Canada. We are going to work on the extraction and look at how the gut microbiota metabolizes these different polyphenols. The aim is to identify which ones will be most beneficial to certain bacteria in the gut,” she adds. 

With a total budget of CA$2.62 million (US$2 million), the research program comprises two strands and is predicted to run for five years:

The first strand is an Industrial Research Chair (CRI) on the prebiotic effect of polyphenols in fruit and vegetables; while the second is a Collaborative Research & Development (RDC) program on the development of synergistic combinations of prebiotic polyphenols and probiotic bacteria with the purpose of modulating the gut microbiota and better understanding their interacting mechanisms.

The company reports that the general objective of the CRI is to show that the tannins in Nordic berries (such as cranberries and cloudberries), tropical fruit (bananas, camu-camu, acerola) and some polyphenols in vegetables (onions) have a specific prebiotic effect in that they can modulate gut microbiota in a positive way. In consequence, the program aims to develop new, efficient and natural polyphenolic extracts. For example, the program will study ways to recover co-products such as banana peels (20,000 tons/year from the production of organic banana puree) from the Diana Food plant in Ecuador, as well as from local Nordic berries such as cloudberries. 

The research program is part of the strategic development plan of Diana, its subsidiary Diana Food Canada Inc. and its international collaborative ventures with sister companies such as Probi (Sweden) and the Symrise Group (Germany) to which Diana belongs. 

The project is to support the company in developing unique natural products and to increase its national and international market share. It is also an opportunity to position its Canadian plant as the spearhead for extracts of fruit and raw materials from Canada, as well as from South America, placing particular emphasis on the recovery of co-products that are currently discarded. 

By Lucy Gunn

To contact our editorial team please email us at editorial@cnsmedia.com

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