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Digesting the Right Ingredients

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Consumers look for easy-to-take, natural digestive health products that don’t compromise their day-to-day lifestyle.

Over the years, digestive health has become a concern for health-conscious consumers and continues to rise exponentially. In fact, ingredient manufacturers are one step behind the industry as a whole, according to Dr. John Deaton, vice president of technology for Georgia-based Deerland Enzymes. “We are encouraged by the increasing demand from our customers to develop more complex products that have scientific validation and human clinical support where appropriate,” he said. That being said, a U.S. Digestive Health Enzymes, Prebiotics & Probiotics Market report stated the industry shows huge opportunities for digestive health ingredients manufacturers by educating and drawing awareness to consumers.

According to the report, “The U.S. Digestive Health Ingredients market has been segmented into prebiotics, probiotics and enzymes. The market is in the growth stage and is currently valued to be $265.9 million. It is expected to grow to $495.3 million in 2015 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.2 percent.” In addition, Scott Ravech, CEO, Deerland Enzymes, said the supplement industry estimates a 3 percent growth or, as much as 6 percent growth in 2014.

Healthy Digestion

“The human digestive tract relies upon many different chemicals—and in some cases, organisms—to function normally,” said Kristin Hendrickson, contributing writer to Livestrong.com. The ability to breakdown food into normal components is another large concern for consumers, searching for functional nutrition for growth, development and supporting healthy aging.

According to Nigel Plummer, PhD, key research contributor for Florida-based Pharmax, “The gastrointestinal tract forms the body’s main immune barrier, and at a basic level a healthy digestive system, which includes a normal microbiota (gut bacteria), will protect against potential infection from bacteria, yeast or parasites.”

“Consumers are paying more attention to the nutrition label and becoming increasingly health conscious, so the benefits of functional food and beverages continue to become more clear,” Deaton added. “Consumers continue to look for easy and convenient ways to support their healthy lifestyle, and functional food and beverages are a great way to receive the desired health benefits without chancing their day-to-day routine.”

Michael Bush, senior vice president for Ohio-based Ganeden Biotech agreed, noting that the target audience—children, athletes, moms and active seniors—can’t digest the idea of downing another pill. Therefore, trending functional food and beverage products make it an easy solution to consume your daily does of digestive health ingredients, without altering your lifestyle.


Recent studies have examined unintended health consequences of persistent antibiotic use and how antibiotic therapy may alter and disrupt the microbial balance in the gut,” said Kathy McIntee, vice president of New York-based Patient One Medi-Nutritionals. She referred to a 2010 review published in the journal of Nutrients that explained the three functions of the human gut: (a) it breaks food down to nutrients, (b) it facilitates absorption of nutrients into the blood through intestinal walls and (c) it prevents foreign and toxic molecules from entering the bloodstream.

Digestive disorders are on the increase. About 38 million Americans suffer from a variety of digestive problems such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), irritable bowl syndrome, celiac disease, food allergies, diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, the review noted. “Approximately 25 million Americans have daily heartburn, and is estimate that 20 percent of the adult population have irritable bowl syndrome. Celiac disease, once considered rare, is now thought to affect one in 133 people, and food allergies have increased alarmingly.”

Additionally, Plummer explained that ongoing digestive issues can lead to the development of not only food allergies, but also bacterial and yeast overgrowth and the production of toxins, which can lead to inflammation and systemic illnesses.

According to Mclntee, manufacturers are looking for ingredients that are documented, genetically identified strains and have a natural delivery system to survive stomach acids. The challenge for ingredient manufactures is that bacteria must be stable, alive and potent to survive in the stomach acid, so they can reach the intestinal tract where the organisms can colonize and replicate, as well as ensuring the integrity of the product once it is in the consumers hand, she said. Furthermore, under the U.S. Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994, manufacturers are responsible to ensure that their product’s label information is truthful and not misleading.

Furthermore, “Additional items such as cost, storage requirements, stability in final product and suitability for the target consumer should also be taken into consideration,” Ganeden Biotech’s Bush said. However, it is crucial that manufacturers first support their ingredients through scientific studies in safety and efficacy. According to Ravech, manufactures are encouraged that their customers are placing the importance more than ever on formulating with ingredients that are backed by science, not theory, and the responsibility of manufacturers is to ensure that their products are of the utmost safety and purity.

Microbes and Food

A 2014 preliminary study about microbes in food, begs the question, do the microbes we eat as part of our normal daily diets contribute to the composition and function of our gut microbiota? For the study, 15 meals were selected to exemplify an everyday meal consumed as three very different dietary patterns to find out the average amount of microbes digested in food and beverages. One group focused on the American diet, specifically on convenience food. The second group was USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) recommended to study the pattern in regard to the consumption of fruits and vegetables, lean meat, dairy and whole grains. The third group focused on the vegan dietary pattern excluding all animal products.

The conclusion of the study suggested that, “the microbes we eat as part of normal diets that vary in absolute abundance, community composition and functional potential. The variation depends on the specific ingredients in the meals, and how the foods are prepared and processed and other potential facts, not explored here, including the provenance of ingredients.” The significance of this variation on the gut microbiota composition and function, impacts the human dietary constituents and nutrients, polyphenolic compounds and vitamins in the gut. The study suggests the possibility that food microbes modify nutritive molecules.

The researchers concluded that future studies need to address key questions about the composition and content of food microbes and how these vary across diets and meals, and their impacts on the short-term and long-term composition and function of the gut microbiota.

Probiotics & Prebiotics

Recently, probiotics have become a trending ingredient in the functional food and beverage market and consumers are aware of the importance of digestive health. “A popular nutritional trend recently promotes digestive health by fortifying foods with natural probiotics/prebiotics that help the digestive tract stay healthy,” said Ravech. In fact, BBC Research estimated that 80 percent of consumers know what probiotics are and associate them with a health benefit.
In addition, the beneficial ingredient has a variety of functions that changes with the species of organisms, Hendrickson explained. “They can assist in vitamin and mineral absorption, alleviate lactose intolerance and produce vitamin K.”

However, manufacturers should be aware that not all probiotics are created equally, and when choosing one to formulate with, it is important that the strain (not just the genus and species) that they choose is the appropriate probiotic bacteria—for example, Lactobacillus fermentum helps digestion and balances bacteria, Bush said. Ganeden Biotech’s probiotic, Ganeden BC30 (Bacillus coagluans GB1-30, 6086), is a patented, spore-forming organism that has been shown to support digestive health. The ingredient is extremely stable and remains viable through processing, shelf life and the low pH of stomach acid, he said. Its safety and efficacy is backed by 17 published studies, including a double-blind, crossover study by the University of Tampa, which stated that with 20 grams of protein, the ingredient can help decrease recovery time, soreness and blood kinase, reduce swelling and increase power. In addition, BC30 was granted FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) GRAS (generally recognized as safe) approval.

Prebiotics, on the other hand, increase the benefits of probiotics, although there is a list of drawbacks, such as temporary gastrointestinal issues or, in some cases, prebiotics support the growth of unhelpful bacteria. Deerland Enzymes’ research team created a prebiotic that was not a fiber or starch yet is very effective in 15 mg doses. The company’s prebiotic product PreforPro has scientific evidence by both in-vitro and in-vivo studies, which revealed the ingredient’s impact on digestive health. The new product “supports the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut,” said Bush. “Cold processed foods offer an ideal environment for both prebiotics and probiotics due to the cool temperatures from the time of production all the way to consumption,” he added.


Unlike probiotics, enzymes are not living organisms, Hendrickson wrote, because enzymes are proteins, which means that they are large molecules made up of long chains of smaller molecules, amino acids. “The industry as a whole is investing more than ever in support for enzyme-based products for digestive health,” Ravech said.

According to enzymeessentials.com, raw food includes enzymes needed to digest it and when the food is cooked, the enzymes are destroyed leaving our body needing to make more in order to digest our food. However, they are clinically proven to reduce the effects of bloating, gas, heartburn and acid reflex.
According to Sloan Trends, digestive enzymes are one of the top supplement ingredients for 2013-2016 with projected growth rates of 6.3 percent. Ravech said Deerland Enzymes is encouraged by the high demand from their customers to create more complex and new innovative products backed by scientific evidence and human clinical support where needed. The company recently released their newest products Glutalytic and Dairylytic, which are known to support healthy digestion of gluten and dairy proteins. “These enzyme-based products hydrolyze wheat and dairy proteins and break them down into smaller protein constituents so they can be more easily managed by the body,” Ravech said. Glutalytic is one digestive natural product that helps minimize the consequences of gluten consumption, and is backed by clinical studies. The company’s other new product Dairylytic breaks down lactose associated with dairy foods, as well as other proteins that are difficult to digest and cause discomfort to sensitive consumers.

“The entire supplement industry is going through a time which could be characterized as a ‘clinical revolution’ in which the demand for clinical validation for dietary supplement products has never been higher,” concluded Deerland Enzymes’ Deaton. “The functional food and beverages industry is playing catch-up with consumers with the high demand for digestive health ingredients in their products they purchase. Ingredient suppliers have researched and conducted numerous clinical studies and landed on three key ingredients to help ease digestive, which include probiotics, prebiotics and digestive enzymes. All three ingredients have been trending over the past few years and there is no sign of stopping for the future.” NIE

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