Lallemand explores the possibilities for probiotics in sports nutrition

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31 Jul 2017 --- Active in the probiotic industry since 1934, Lallemand Health Solutions (LHS) offers a full line of ready-to-market probiotic formulas and helps its partners design custom and complex formulations using Harmonium, Lafti or Rosell Probiotic strains together with its proprietary protective technologies. One of the company’s most recent areas of interest is the sports nutrition market. “Sports nutrition is a booming market and a very significant area for innovation. The range of products can be aimed at pre- and post-workout purposes, to support overall well-being as well as boost immunity,” says Lucie Lingrand, Product Manager at LHS, in an interview with NutritionInsight. 

Probiotics can “complement the current range of sports nutrition options because they target overall well-being” and can thus help boost workout sessions but also help athletes avoid missing competitions due to fatigue or sickness, as well as respiratory tract infections, to which athletes are particularly sensitive, Lingrand says.

“Probiotics are a scientifically-backed solution to target immune as well as digestive issues in athletes,” Lingrand explains. “At LHS, we have two clinical studies on immunity in athletes, so we have conducted clinical trials which show that one of our strains of probiotics, which is called Lactobacillus helveticus Lafti L10, has a strong ability to boost the immune response in exercising athletes.” 

The first study on probiotics and athletes (Clancy 2006) was conducted on two groups, one with well-trained athletes and a second with overtrained athletes. This was followed up last year by a randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled new study. The new study’s main goal was to evaluate the physical, as well as the immunological, effects of Lallemand’s Lactobacillus helveticus Lafti L10.

According to Lingrand, the study sought to evaluate how supplementation during 14 weeks in winter can influence the severity and incidence of upper respiratory tract illness (URTI) in elite athletes. During this study, 39 elite athletes were randomized either to the placebo (n = 19) or the probiotic (n = 20) group. The probiotic group received L. helveticus Lafti L10.

The results showed that Lafti L10 significantly shortened the URTI episode duration and decreased the number of symptoms in the probiotic group, Lingrand explains.

The study also included self-rated state of moods evaluation using the Profile of Mood States questionnaire. A significant interaction effect was noted for a self-rated sense of vigor among those who took the probiotic: Self-rated sense of vigor increased in the probiotic group.

Speaking about application forms, Lingrand says that the capsules are the most frequently seen when it comes to probiotics for sports nutrition. However, there are options for mixing probiotics with whey protein, which is a convenient way of incorporating probiotics into an athletic diet through, for example, protein shakes.

“The probiotic market for sports nutrition is really new, but for now the main application forms are capsules and powder,” Lingrand says.

Lallemand’s probiotic portfolio targets a far wider audience than just athletes, however. In recent months, the company's ProbioKid and its specific probiotic strains have been recognized as safe in the US and Canada. Confirming GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status, an expert panel has recognized that both the ProbioKid formula and its individual probiotic strains (Lactobacillus helveticus Rosell-52, Bifidobacterium infantis Rosell-33, Bifidobacterium bifidum Rosell-71) are safe for infants and children. This includes their use in infant formula.

This follows approval from Canadian authorities, which had already backed specific health claims, including the fact that it “Helps to reinforce the body’s natural defenses in children” for infants aged more than three months.

Speaking on the European market, Lingrand notes that “if you want to follow EFSA’s guidelines, some of the challenges include that studies need to be conducted on healthy populations,” which can make it tricky to prove certain health benefits of probiotics, depending on the goal of the study. However, the company remains active in its fields of research and in terms of conducting studies in line with the most recent guidelines, Lingrand adds.

Moreover, Lallemand Health Solutions has been conducting studies on combining probiotic strains. The company has also focused recently on the brain-gut axis, conducting a number of studies on the benefits of probiotics in dealing with anxiety.

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