Asian research on Pre- and Probiotics
Growing awareness of the health benefits generated by probiotics is driving global growth in this vibrant market. The Asia-Pacific probiotic market leads the global industry with an anticipated five-year CAGR of 8.3%.
Potentially driven by their long tradition of using fermented foods (e.g. fermented kimchi), Asia is one of the epicenters of probiotic research. Regarding prebiotics, a Chinese research group isolated two polysaccharides (WBP-1 and WBP-2) from bamboo shoots (Phyllostachys praecox) that might have the potential to be used as functional ingredients. These two polysaccharides have significantly increased the number of two strains of Bifidobacterium, suggesting their prebiotic properties.
On the probiotic side, a Joint Center for probiotic research has been created between Jiangnan University in China and UK’s Institute of Food Research (IFR). This collaboration aims to address the challenges facing both countries in the probiotic arena such as the development of probiotics that can help tackle antimicrobial resistance. Also demonstrating this ongoing trend, the Family Planning and National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China granted to the Spanish biotechnology firm “Biosearch Life” authorization to use its probiotic Lactobacillus fermentum CECT5716 LC40 (LC40 strain), which is isolated from breast milk, in infant formula. The strain is already in use in children’s nutrition products in Europe.
A recent meta-analysis from a Chinese research group showed that taking probiotics reduced BMI and body weight mainly in adults. The study included data from 25 randomized clinical trials assessing the impact of probiotic consumption on body weight and BMI in more than 1,900 people over the age of 18 years. While the impact of the reduction was low (reduction of 0.59 kg of body weight and 0.49 kg/m2 BMI in average), greater reductions were observed in specific subgroup analyses such as in trials with multiple species of probiotics used, or in longer intervention studies. These findings suggest new possibilities in the field of overweight and obesity.
a&r comments: An improvement of the cooperation between Asian and Western research groups on natural health products will lead to improved and innovative products in the field of pre- and probiotics, with extreme benefit for Asia as well as Western markets.