Functional beverages utilizing probiotics and prebiotics for microbiome boost
26 Jul 2022 --- As consumers and industry continue to explore the connection between the gut microbiome and its effect on mood, cognition and serotonin production, companies are experimenting with fun formats seeking to utilize prebiotics and probiotics.
NutritionInsight speaks to Nicola Anderson, manager, education and engagement, US and Canada-based Vega about their probiotic protein smoothie, the gut microbiome and what this emerging market may hold for the future of mental health.
“Probiotics are ‘good gut bacteria’ which may be beneficial when consumed in the right amounts,” explains Anderson. “Prebiotics are dietary fiber that may help feed the good bacteria in your digestive system.”
“As we look to the future, we hope to evolve beyond our current Gut/Energy/Brain portfolio into new functional wellness spaces where we can help empower people’s lifestyle with powerful plant-based nutrition.”
Focus on the brain
Daina Trout, co-founder at gut-health company Health-Ade, explains: “Your gut contains trillions of microbes, making up ten times your number of human cells and 100 times your number of human genes. Collectively called your microbiome, this abundance of bacteria is linked to most systems and organs in your body, impacting many aspects of your health.”
Trout adds that almost all serotonin is produced in the gut, with only 5% of it being made in the brain. Serotonin is a known neurochemical mood stabilizer, sometimes called the “happiness chemical.” Trout also notes that researchers have identified over 50 pathways in the gut-brain axis.
To back this up, she cites a study that revealed eating fermented foods with Lactobacillus increased dopamine and serotonin and relieved anxiety by up to 30%.
Trout further notes the research around this subject has “exploded” and even helped to create a new category of nutrition as medicine called “psychobiotics.” She explains that psychobiotics refers to the ways in which probiotics, prebiotics, and fermented foods affect our moods and mental health.
“In the last ten years especially, science has explored how the gut microbiome interacts with your brain, and there’s so much there it has been given a special name: the gut-brain axis,” Trout affirms.
Balancing the gut
Anderson and Trout hold that a balanced gut microbiome can have numerous health benefits. Trout wrote that foods like ice cream, pizza and even an excess of wine may worsen the symptoms of depression and notes that those who eat the typical “Western” diet increase their chances of developing anxiety and depression.
Mediterranean-style diet with fermented foods can greatly improve mood and all-around mental health and well-being.Conversely, she states that a
“We’ve also included fermented ancient grains amaranth and quinoa to further support a healthy gut,” Anderson stresses. “The addition of protease enzymes in the formulation helps to break down protein into small peptides and further into amino acids. Your body produces proteases naturally, but we wanted to give your body a head start.”
She adds that that focusing on decreasing “pro-inflammatory” foods can “help keep you on track with your nutrition goals and keep your gut and your immune system strong.”
“Given we’ve proven there is a meaningful connection between the gut and mood, it’s probably not surprising to learn that food plays a role,” Trout concludes.
By William Bradford Nichols
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