12 Feb 2018 --- Immune health continues to drive trends in the nutrition industry. Today, in the second part of a special report, NutritionInsight continues its in-depth look at the latest ideas in the industry in the immune health space.
Trends drive innovation
There is growing awareness and interest in combining digestive and immune health benefits through the use of certain probiotic strains, which is driving innovation in probiotic-fortified foods and beverages. This is according to Michael Bush, President and CEO of Ganeden.
“Of the US consumers who are aware of probiotics, 82 percent associate them with immune health benefits. That’s because certain strains, like our shelf-stable probiotic, GanedenBC30 (Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086), have been shown in studies to have immune supporting benefits,” Bush points out. “These benefits, combined with the additional digestive health benefits, make probiotics an excellent option as an immune supporting ingredient. And by using a shelf-stable strain like GanedenBC30, manufacturers can formulate the probiotic strain into everyday foods and beverages.”
“However, not all probiotics are the same and the health benefits are strain specific,” Bush adds. “So if manufacturers want to select a strain for an immune function, they must confirm there’s science on that strain demonstrating immune benefits.”
With functional ingredients, trust and transparency is of growing importance for consumers, according to Donald Cox, Ph.D., Kerry’s director of R&D for Wellmune.
“Wellmune, a proprietary baker’s yeast beta 1,3/1,6 glucan, is backed by over a dozen clinical studies that support its ability to help strengthen the immune system,” Cox says. “Ingredients backed by clinical research build trust and transparency, so this is an important consideration when product manufacturers want to deliver immune health benefits to consumers.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Manfred Eggersdorfer, Professor for Healthy Ageing at the University Medical Center Groningen and Senior Vice President, Nutrition Science & Advocacy at DSM, has noticed a broader definition of immunity. “Traditionally, products in the immunity boosters market were positioned as solutions for protecting the body from infections, like common colds,” observes Dr. Eggersdorfer. “Immunity is now a broader concept, encompassing not only ways to fight infection from pathogens, but also to counter external challenges faced by the body, including stress and air pollution.”
New ingredients and R&D platforms
As Wellmune is a proven ingredient, Cox points out that Kerry is committed to providing an effective immune health ingredient that helps people live a quality life. Thus, it continues to invest in R&D and Wellmune.
“For example, a newly published clinical study with adults at an average fitness level shows improvement in immune health both during and after strenuous exercise when taking Wellmune,” Cox notes. “The positive results from this study are critical indicators that taking Wellmune can help strengthen the immune systems of active adults undergoing high physical stress.”
“As immune health stays top of mind for consumers, ingredient suppliers are introducing new and novel options for immune benefits that offer more diversity in the space,” Bush observes. “Earlier this year, Staimune was introduced, an immune health ingredient that utilizes the inactivated cells of GanedenBC30, which have been shown to support immune health even when metabolically inactive.”
“Because the ingredient is not a living probiotic, it can be used in almost any food or beverage without survivability challenges,” Bush adds. “Staimune does not alter the taste or flavor of the finished product, making it an appealing option for food, beverage and supplement manufacturers.”
Nutritional interventions not only help the immune system resist infection and neutralize infectious agents, but they may also help to alleviate external threats such as environmental toxins, Dr. Eggersdorfer notes.
“At a cellular and molecular level, exposure to polluted air containing particulate matter of a diameter smaller than 2.5 μm (PM2.5) causes an increased inflammatory response and a decreased antioxidative capability, which would normally counteract free radicals (reactive oxygen species: ROS), leading to oxidative stress,” says Dr. Eggersdorfer. “Acceleration of the inflammatory processes in response to the formation of, and increase in, ROS can cause additional cell damage, which may lead to non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease (CVD).”
“There are, however, specific nutrients that can help reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular conditions, and therefore counter the harmful impact of air pollution,” Dr. Eggersdorfer adds. “Such nutrients, including vitamin E with antioxidant properties and omega 3 EPA and DHA, can play a vital role in products that provide support for immunity.”
As immune health continues to be top of mind for many consumers and many products adopt an immune health positioning, it will certainly be interesting to see what the space can offer in the future.
By Paul Creasy
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