Nutritional Outlook

Nutritional Outlook, May 2018

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■ NUTRITIONAL OUTLOOK Prebiotics MAY 2018 42 According to researchers, polyphenols' bill of human health particulars runs from car- diovascular benef ts, possible cancer preven- tion, and metabolic and blood sugar balance, to cognitive support, joint and bone health, weight management, a healthy inf amma- tory response, and—new to the list—optimal gut health. Fiber Fundamentals T at's a change of pace, as gut health had primarily been the province of probiotic bacteria and the prebiotic f bers that feed them. And that makes sense, because a preponderance of evidence af rms that probiotic bacteria are instrumental to a well-functioning gastrointestinal tract, and that prebiotic f ber encourages their proliferation. "T ese bacteria are important as they may have several benef cial ef ects on the host, es- pecially in terms of improving digestion and the ef ectiveness and intrinsic strength of the immune system," says Stephen Lukawski, BA, MEd, global sales and marketing consultant, product development and partner, Fruit d'Or Nutraceuticals (Villeroy, QC, Canada). "Pre- liminary research has also demonstrated po- tential ef ects of probiotic bacteria on the ab- sorption of calcium and other minerals, bowel acidity, and inf ammatory bowel disease." As for the f bers that fuel them, those with the highest prof les as prebiotics include inu- lin, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), guar gum, and resistant starch. And the high prof le these specif c prebiotic ingredients enjoy, Majeed notes, is thanks in no small part to the "leverage given by FDA" in its aforemen- tioned 2006 guidance on what a prebiotic is. New Compound on the Block "However," Majeed continues, "over the years, newer ingredients have caught the atten- tion of the industry, owing to their prebiotic benef ts." In fact, the International Scientif c Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics in 2016 updated its def nition and scope of prebiotics to encompass non-carbohydrate ingredients, Majeed notes. And that's where polyphenols come in. "Several studies have demonstrated that polyphenols play an important role in im- proving gut health by boosting the growth of benef cial bacteria in the intestine," Majeed says. And whereas poor absorbability is often a drawback for a nutritional ingredient, the poor absorbability of polyphenols "becomes an advantage, as far their prebiotic position- ing is concerned," Majeed adds. So how do polyphenols perform prebioti- cally? T eir ef ectiveness, Majeed says, "is sug- gested to be due to their ability to stimulate the growth of benef cial microbiota while inhibit- ing that of pathogenic strains, and to their anti- adhesion activity against harmful pathogens. Overall, they're believed to confer positive ben- ef ts by modulating gut microecology." Here Comes Cranberry And while researchers have focused mainly on the f avone, f avonol, anthocyanidin, and

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