In the near future, doctors may be able to diagnose and treat patients’ physical and mental health problems by analysing and adjusting the bacteria in their gut.
The human body’s digestive system contains an ecosystem of bacteria, yeasts, fungi, viruses and protozoans that weigh up to 2 kg altogether and perform vital functions such as breaking down food and toxins, manufacturing vitamins and training the immune system to keep the body healthy.
Over the past decade, research has also shown that anomalies in this ecosystem, called the gut microbiome, could be linked to post-traumatic stress disorder, higher levels of stress, anxiety and fearfulness and other mental health issues.
The importance of the gut microbiome on human wellness is why Dr Niranjan Nagarajan, an associate director and senior group leader in the Singapore Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s Genome Institute of Singapore, is spearheading work to better understand its development and changes.
At this year’s Vitafoods Asia 2018 conference, which will take place on Sept 11 and 12 at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Dr Nagarajan will deliver a talk, titled “Focusing on Precision Nutrition for Shaping the Gut Microbiome”, about his research and goals.
Dr Nagarajan said: “We know that diet plays a major role in shaping the microbiome, but precisely how it does so is not quite known. Ultimately, we want to create a system where we can say that, ‘given that your gut microbiome is in state X, to get it to state Y, this is the diet that you should have for the next few months’.”
Understanding your gut
To realise this system, Dr Nagarajan and his fellow scientists are pursuing three avenues of research. The first involves studying gut microbiome and diet data compiled by the American Gut Project, a global citizen science initiative founded by scientists in the United States.
For a small fee, people can send a biological sample and a completed survey about their health, disease history, lifestyle and diet to the scientists and receive a report about the microorganisms living in their gut or other body part. The volunteers’ information is then anonymised and put online for free to help researchers investigating links among diet, exercise, lifestyle, microbial make-up and health.
“Although the data is publicly available, it’s just data, so we’ve been working on new methods to analyse it properly to give us what we want,” said Dr Nagarajan. “From the analysis, we can then come up with predictions, for instance that ‘Food A will affect the abundance of Microbiome Component B’, and conduct experiments to test them.”
He added that he and his colleagues have analysed the gut microbiome data of about 1,500 people so far, of which about 800 had provided information about their diet.
Beyond this work, the team is also studying different types of food to find out what bacteria grows and feeds on them. “Not everything that we consume will get to our gut because we have a digestive system that kills most bacteria, but this research will give us some idea about what could be in your gut if you eat certain types of food,” Dr Nagarajan explained.
He continued: “Our third approach is to try and understand the inner workings of the gut microbiome. In addition to people’s diet providing nutrients to their microbiome, there’s also a food web in the gut where bacteria cross-feed one another. Some bacteria break down food in certain ways so that other bacteria can eat it.”
“We did a study where we looked at people who are taking antibiotics, because that clears the field in the microbiome, so to speak. Once that happens, we study how the ecosystem repopulates itself. This gut microbiome recovery process can tell us a lot about how bacteria cross-feed one another, and what the food web looks like,” he said.
He noted that the team’s work could have dividends for disease prevention and treatment. He said: “The more we know, the more we can perturb an unhealthy microbiome and shift it back to a healthy state. That could have an impact on a wide range of diseases ranging from metabolic to autoimmune ones.”
Alongside the conference, at the Vitafoods Asia exhibition, speakers at the Global Health Theatre will discuss the impact of the modern lifestyle on nutrition and diseases, and how food fortification is addressing these issues, will be discussed by industry experts. Other topics include responsible nutrition, importance of fortification & fortified foods, impact on the glycaemic index, as well as the packaging of nutraceuticals into functional foods. At Vitafoods Asia exhibition, companies from 17 countries, including those in Asia, Europe and the Americas will be exhibiting their key ingredients, such as enzymes, probiotics, pre-biotics and other ingredients that supplement gut health.
Register now for free entry: https://www.vitafoodsasia.com/en/
Vitafoods Asia returns in 2018, evolving with new exhibitors including Kerry and Plantex and new learning experiences such as the Probiotic Resource Centre
20 June 2018, Singapore – Vitafoods Asia returns in 2018 to ensure the industry makes the most of its growth opportunities, by integrating a research-intensive, industry-centred environment. Vitafoods Asia attracts members that represent the entire nutraceuticals supply chain. Organisers expect some 5,500 visitors from over 60 countries to attend Vitafoods Asia, who come pre-dominantly from Asian countries. The Vitafoods Asia Exhibition will deliver over 300 exhibitors, which marks a growth of 40% over the number of exhibitors in 2017.
Vitafoods Asia is a response to growing demand for nutraceuticals in functional foods and beverages. Japan and increasingly China, India, Australia, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam, are collectively growing the nutraceuticals market in Asia-Pacific by 7.5% year on year, rapidly expanding opportunities for development in the sector. This is expected to increase to 9.9% CAGR by 2025, and Euromonitor estimates the regional market will reach US$89.63 billion by 2021.
The event is a key opportunity to discover innovative and creative solutions to challenges faced by the industry’s professionals, get greater exposure to the industry’s latest product and service developments, and participate in new learning opportunities.
Visitors to the show can extend their business network globally as the exhibition features 11 international pavilions this year. New entrants include New Zealand, Poland and Singapore.
Optimising health through science and innovation
Consumers, who now positively link health to diet, are creating demand for nutraceuticals in functional foods, beverages and dietary supplements. Such ingredients include pre-biotic and pro-biotic vitamins, minerals, fibres, proteins, omega 3 and structured lipids, amino acids and various other ingredients. In 2018, Vitafoods Asia is the key showcase and source for these ingredients, which are created from applied research and designed to be of high quality.
Some key exhibitors include KSM-66 Ashwagandha, the largest producer of Asheagandha; Sabinsa, a well-established (30 years) supplier of herbal extracts, cosmeceuticals, minerals, dietary supplements and specialty fine chemicals; and AstaReal, manufacturer of a powerful anti-ageing molecule, Natural Astaxanthin. Of the many exhibitors at Vitafoods Asia, two first time exhibitors include major US-Irish ingredients manufacturer Kerry, and Plantex, a large French manufacturer.
Spotlighting Omega-3 and Probiotics
Increased demand from China, Southeast Asia and other developing countries for Omega 3 means that the market for the most widely used nutritional lipid continues to grow as it controls inflammation. GOED estimates the market today globally is worth US$1.5 billion at the ingredient level.
Key visitor attractions to learn more about ingredients include the Omega-3 Resource Centre and a Tasting Centre on the exhibition floor. Visitors can discover what new options for Omega-3 are available on the market and even obtain an Omega-3 blood test free of charge! The International Probiotics Association (IPA) suggests that the market for probiotics is experiencing unprecedented growth and may be worth as much as US$43 billion. Probiotics are widely used to ensure proper functioning of digestive system.
To showcase the latest breakthroughs in probiotic technology, to new areas of product development and consumer analysis, the organisers of Vitafoods Asia are introducing a new resource, the Probiotic Resource Centre, for the first time in Asia.
Addressing Asia’s ageing populations
Currently home to 60% of the world’s 60 years or older population, Asia’s ageing population is expected to more than double from 547 million in 2016 to nearly 1.3 billion by 2050. Ageing populations drive demonstrable demand for nutraceutical products, as evidenced by 47% of the Japanese population consuming nutraceutical products.
Vitafoods Asia’s Life Stages Theatre addresses matters of healthy ageing by delivering expertise on the specific nutrition requirements that are needed from infancy until later in life. It also includes sessions on regulatory guidance and marketing strategies as they relate to specific life stages.Vitafoods Asia is the ideal place to build a network amongst the leading manufacturers, distributors, buyers and high-quality suppliers for the four key nutraceutical industry areas: Ingredients & Raw Materials; Branded Finished Products; Contract Manufacturing & Private Labelling as well as Services & Equipment
For more info, visit: www.vitafoodsasia.com
Vitafoods Asia is a key regional learning event centred on the latest research, development and application of nutraceuticals into functional foods and beverages; as well as the marketing, branding and regulations of such fortified products
16 July 2018, Singapore – Visitors to the upcoming Vitafoods Asia Exhibition and Conference in Singapore, 11-12 September 2018, will discover a rich learning environment encompassing all aspects of the development and application of nutraceuticals, through to product positioning, branding and marketing, inclusive of how to overcome regulatory challenges in various markets.
Health care spending in the Asia-Pacific region is anticipated to double by 2050, opening opportunities to market alternative remedies and fortified foods. Across Asia, and especially in China and India, increased disposable income, coupled with ageing populations, are impacting the prevalence of lifestyle-related diseases, along with blood pressure, diabetes, or cardiac diseases. Inadequate nutrition, due to busy lifestyles, and the high cost of healthcare are also factors. Joint health, gut health, bone health and weight management are expected to be future demand drivers.
Asia Pacific is now the largest regional market for dietary supplements and vitamins. Malaysia and India for instance, are grappling with the impact of rapid urbanisation on the diet. Demand functional, hearty-healthy foods, for example, is rising.
Aside from products developed in Western societies, across the region, consumers are buying products that are enriched with locally-sourced compounds and functional ingredients like probiotics, fibre, calcium or vitamin E; herbs such as tongkat ali and ginseng; along with cultured milk drinks; probiotic yogurts; and cereals that are fortified with fibre; plus, Omega-3 fortified eggs.
Vitafoods Asia showcases key suppliers of such ingredients and raw materials that are used in functional foods. Alongside these suppliers, visitors to the exhibition can source contract manufacturers and private labellers, as well as finished goods manufacturers.
To tackle alertness and reduce calorie consumption, as well as hydrate with performance additives, athletes and gym enthusiasts in countries like China and India are driving demand for nutrition through functional beverages. Energy drinks, sports drinks & nutraceutical drinks are the fastest growing segment of the functional beverage market. Due to its efficient delivery of minerals or herbs, functional beverages are emerging to help reduce the risk of chronic disease and to keep blood sugar levels under control.
Drinks ingredients include vitamins, amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids. Amino acids are used to slow fatigue and vitamins are added to boost the metabolism and generate energy in functional beverages. Prebiotics and probiotics are also used to ensure proper functioning of the digestive system. Another ingredient, Omega-3, is forecast to grow in the functional beverages market as it controls inflammation. At Vitafoods Asia, there’s an Omega-3 Resource Centre where visitors can witness the latest innovations and product development initiatives around Omega-3.
Manufacturers in this market segment are developing innovative flavours to appeal to consumers with drinks that are safe, taste good and are affordable. Key functional beverage manufacturers are exhibiting at the Vitafoods Asia Exhibition.
In countries like Japan and Thailand, where despite relatively healthy diets, there are mineral and vitamin deficiencies in the population. In Thailand, Calcium and Vitamin D are issues, and doctors are prescribing supplements. The Japanese lack calcium and iron, so there is a corresponding seeing rise in demand for probiotic yogurts and energy drinks.
At the Global Health Theatre at Vitafoods Asia, the impact of the modern lifestyle on nutrition and diseases, and how food fortification is addressing these issues, will be discussed by industry experts. Responsible nutrition, importance of fortification & fortified foods, impact on the glycaemic index, as well as the packaging of nutraceuticals into functional foods, will be discussed, among other topics.
As scientific research evolves around issues such as obesity and disease, as the impact of nutrition on pre-natal and maternal life stages, sports and aging evolves, the way we approach these issues is changing. You can stay abreast of the latest research by attending the Life Stages Theatre at Vitafoods Asia, where you will hear from researchers and functional food developers alike.
Processing food to protect bioactive ingredients
At the Vitafoods Asia exhibition, visitors will learn how processes such as microencapsulation, enzyme technology, and nanoencapsulation of ingredients are being used to produce functional foods. Of late, microencapsulation technology has been developed to replace cyclodextrin (CD) molecules to protect the bioactive elements in food processing through to the storage and delivery of functional foods.
Notably, product formulation for the delivery of nutraceuticals is changing. For example, Indian consumers are driving change from traditional tablets, or chewable tablets, to capsules, particularly liquid-filled capsules, which are easier to swallow and are believed to work faster and better. At Vitafoods Asia, discover novel formulations that allow nutraceutical companies to incorporate liquids, pellets, tablets and powders in capsules.
Obtaining the right advice
Attending Vitafoods Asia is an essential opportunity to connect and learn from members across the entire nutraceutical supply chain spectrum, from leading manufacturers and distributors to buyers and quality suppliers. A dedicated area, the Industry Advice Zone, is available for visitors to meet with industry experts in one to one consultation sessions, for regulatory advice, market access information and strategies, and marketing and innovation profiling.
The Vitafoods Asia Conference is another chance to learn from academia, government and industry leaders. Structured to help participants maximise their learning in line with their career interests, dedicated conference tracks will guide participants towards talks on research and development, business and marketing strategies, and digestive health. Sessions also address challenges to do with market entry and regulation.
For more information on Vitafoods Asia, visit www.vitafoodsasia.com.
Head to your local supermarket and you’ll find probiotic foods and drinks that could help to improve your health. These include yoghurts containing added probiotics and an assortment of milk drinks fermented with probiotics.
Studies have shown that some probiotics, which are live microorganisms that confer health benefits when consumed, could relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, prevent diarrhoea caused by infections and antibiotics, reduce bone density loss and improve the digestion and absorption of food and nutrients.
Their positive health effects are why Associate Professor Liu Shao Quan, who is part of the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Food Science and Technology Programme, has dedicated part of his research to developing new probiotic foods and drinks that could appeal to more people and expand the options for a healthier diet.
Over the past few years, he and his students have created probiotic beer – a first in the market – and two other probiotic beverages made with durian pulp and okara respectively. Okara is soy pulp that is leftover from the production of soy products such as soy milk and tofu.
Prof Liu said of the probiotic beer: “The general health benefits associated with consuming foods and beverages with probiotic strains have driven demand for them up dramatically. In recent years, consumption of craft or specialty beers has become more popular too. I am confident that our probiotic, gut-friendly beer will be well-received by beer drinkers, as they can now enjoy their beers and be healthy.”
The probiotics problem
At this year’s Vitafoods Asia 2018 conference, which will take place on Sept 11 and 12 at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, Prof Liu will speak about the difficulties of keeping probiotics alive in foods and drinks, and his research to improve their survival chances.
The annual conference is the only dedicated event that covers nutraceuticals – a term used to describe food or beverage products that may help to prevent or treat diseases – from ingredient to shelf. More than 300 suppliers from across the world are expected to attend this year’s edition.
Prof Liu’s talk is titled “Improving the Viability of Probiotics in Food”. He explained: “Many foods and beverages are acidic, and acids inhibit probiotics’ survival and activity. Besides, when foods and beverages are stored at elevated temperatures, probiotics can grow and produce more acids. This will lead to the probiotics’ death and decrease the health benefits of the foods and beverages.”
He noted that some microorganisms can help to protect probiotics and improve their odds of survival, but the mechanisms of the process are not well-understood. He and his students experimented with different probiotic strains, yeasts and cultures in creating their beverages.
“Beers contain hop acids that prevent the growth and survival of probiotics, but we successfully developed a beer with live probiotics. Our probiotic durian beverage and probiotic okara beverage also have high cell counts of live probiotics,” he said.
Breakthroughs in probiotics
To create the beer, the team experimented with six probiotic strains and varied factors such as the temperature and amount of ingredients during the brewing process. They eventually succeeded with the Lactobacillus paracasei L26 probiotic strain. The beer is also unfiltered and unpasteurised to maintain the live probiotic counts.
Every 100 millilitre of the drink contains 1 billion probiotic organisms, which is the minimum number per serving recommended by the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics to unlock maximum health benefits.
Prof Liu’s research also found that a type of yeast called Williopsis saturnus can be used to significantly improve the survival of the Lactobacillus casei probiotic strain during the fermentation of durian pulp to create durian-based probiotic beverages.
“Using the yeast also produces much higher levels of volatile compounds, including alcohols and acetate esters, which positively contributes to the flavour notes,” he added.
Furthermore, both the probiotic beer and durian beverage are non-dairy products, unlike most probiotic drinks on the market. This means that the NUS scientists’ creations can be consumed safely by people who are lactose-intolerant.
Such flavours are important in the region, where durian is a very popular fruit, and where such ingredients appeal to populations that don’t typically consume milk, such as Thailand and Japan.
Prof Liu said: “When you look at the health benefits that some probiotic strains can confer to humans, mainly in the area of gut health and immunity enhancement, we should try to develop new foods and drinks that can deliver them to people.”
The Asia-Pacific region is now the largest regional market for dietary supplements and vitamins. Across the region, consumers are buying products that are enriched with locally-sourced compounds and functional ingredients.
Alongside the conference, Vitafoods Asia showcases key suppliers of such ingredients and raw materials that are used in functional foods. Visitors that attend the Vitafoods Asia Exhibition can discover innovations such as Prof Liu’s, as well as source contract manufacturers and private labelers and finished goods manufacturers. Visit www.vitafoodsasia.com to learn more.