Microbiome revolutions: ADM expert talks gut-brain axis, postbiotics and metabolic health
29 Jun 2021 --- Microbiome research will lead to critical advancements around the gut-brain axis over the next five years, according to Daniel Ramón Vidal, research fellow microbiome at ADM. Vidal speaks to NutritionInsight about the microbiome’s potential for mental well-being, the rising space of synbiotics and postbiotics, as well metabolic health’s link to the gut’s microbiota.
Just over 15 years ago, research around the gut microbiome was incredibly scarce and many in the science community did not yet understand its potential, he supports.
“As the science community becomes more well-versed in the microbiome, consumers today are also developing a greater awareness of how a healthy gut can impact overall well-being.”
In 2017, ADM acquired Vidal’s ventures Biopolis and Lifesequencing and onboarded him as a microbiome expert.
“We are testing and using ADM’s ingredients in the research to further NPD, but our work through Biopolis has also been integral in identifying current probiotics and postbiotics that can be integrated into foods and beverages for convenient consumption.”
“Combining resources and knowledge with ADM has pushed my work to explore new areas of the microbiome to help meet people’s health needs.”
AI for the gut-brain axis
The gut and brain transfer important information to each other that can help support mental and emotional health, Vidal explains.
Further research on the gut-brain axis is anticipated to create much-needed new product development for mental well-being. “This continues to be a rising issue in society today and that has been propelled further by heightened stress and anxiety around the global pandemic.”
Additionally, artificial intelligence (AI) is key to driving microbiome exploration and crucial findings forward.
“AI technologies help us create machine-learning approaches that can pinpoint specific strains or microbial consortia, ultimately developing more tailored solutions.”
Postbiotics and synergies
Postbiotics are “fascinating” solutions that are just now breaking into wider use and consumption, according to Vidal.
Since postbiotics don’t contain living microorganisms, they can be more easily applied across many different food and beverage applications as they can withstand harsh processing conditions like high heat or pasteurization.
According to ADM’s internal research, 49 percent of consumers believe every individual requires a customized approach to their diet, which allows probiotics and postbiotics to pave the way for individualized solutions.
“We’re continually looking for ways to find synergies between probiotics, postbiotics and prebiotics. By combining these solutions, we can help enrich more people’s everyday lives.”
“At ADM, we already offer several microbiome-supporting ingredient blends that are designed to meet specific health and wellness needs. Our synbiotic blend with our Fibersol line of dietary soluble fiber is designed to provide support in the area of digestion.”
“As research of synbiotics continues, more strains will be identified that can be blended together for vital and beneficial support of the microbiome,” Vidal details.
Another promising area linked to the microbiome is metabolic health, which is an ever-increasing concern for people, according to Vidal.
One concern in particular is being overweight and obese for which consumers are looking for tailored solutions to support healthy weight.
“ADM’s Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis CECT 8145 (BPL1) is a next-generation strain developed to target factors associated with fat mass accumulation.”
“Its heat-treated counterpart, HT-BPL1 doesn’t contain living microorganisms, making it suitable for use under harsh processing conditions.”
This makes it easy for food and beverage developers to target metabolic health in a wider range of convenient snacks, bars and beverages for an on-the-go solution, Vidal notes.
Backed by science
ADM has conducted two clinical trials – one on BPL1 and one on both BPL1 and HT-BPL1 – and in both trials, reductions in measures of abdominal adiposity were seen over the course of the studies – in particular, BMI for BPL1 and waist circumference for HT-BPL12.
The findings have helped ADM provide its food and beverage and dietary supplement partners with the scientific knowledge they need to better educate consumers with their product information and positioning.
“Some consumers may prefer to obtain metabolic support through supplements, and our living strain of BPL1 in nutritional supplements can help meet that demand,” Vidal says.
“On the flipside, other consumers may want to incorporate these benefits into their everyday smoothie or fortified protein bar. Our HT-BPL1 heat-treated strain is easily incorporated into these formulations, and is also supported by positive results from clinical studies.”
Building on innovation
“It’s only been 15 years since the understanding of the gut microbiome truly began, and we are still on the cusp of much more exploration,” Vidal explains.
There is much more to explore in the gut-brain axis, new probiotic solutions to create and an overall greater understanding of the microbiome to attain, he supports.
“My next step is to continue to pinpoint ways we can better meet people’s needs through the ingredients we develop.”
“As research and knowledge of the microbiome expands, it’s also important that we in the industry as scientists, ingredient suppliers, food, beverage and supplement manufacturers also educate the thought leaders in this space.”
From medical professionals recommending supplements to nutritionists advising on food and beverage choices, sharing accurate information and science-backed solutions is key for setting consumer expectations, Vidal concludes.
By Kristiana Lalou
To contact our editorial team please email us at email@example.com
Subscribe now to receive the latest news directly into your inbox.