Gut health protein and peptide study begins

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Gut health, Amino acid, Protein

The potential uses of proteins and peptides to improve gut health
are to be explored through an industry-led collaborative project
launched by Leatherhead Food International today.

The English firm is looking for partners to join them in the collaborative project called "Proteins & Peptides - Do They Contribute to Gut Health?" Leatherhead launched the project in response to the growing interest from the food and drink industry in the development of functional or designer food products that can stimulate the growth of friendly bacteria. The company says peptides are receiving immense attention because of their bioactive properties such as lowering blood pressure and preventing tooth decay. Leatherhead also says there has been some indication certain peptides with specific amino acid sequences could function as prebiotics. A company spokesperson said: "The advantage of promoting gut health is reflected in scientific evidence which reveals that optimisation of the colonic microflora population can have an influence on constipation, diarrhoea, immune system, cancer and mineral absorption." ​Currently the prebiotics and synbiotics categories are dominated by inulins, oligosaccharides, starches and polysaccharides, such as pectins and arabinogalactans. ​Initial research by Leatherhead has shown that a "specific whey protein isolate can produce a prolonged "prebiotic" activity, when measuredin vitroupon comparison with high-purity oligofructose." "However, since the proteins are digestedin vivoand the resulting peptides absorbed before reaching the colon, the relevance of proteins/peptides as "stimulators" for increasing the "friendly" bacteria population is negligible." ​The project will also look at the concept of protecting the proteins and peptides by adding them with established prebiotics. Potential partners have until July 20 to sign up for the project which aims to look at three main areas. Firstly, the company hopes to investigate any commercial or laboratory developed protein or polysaccharides. Secondly the stability of complexes and conjugates in the gastrointestinal tract will be evaluated. Lastly, the effect of microflora on the gut will be monitored. Prebiotic ingredients, or those that boost the growth of beneficial probiotic bacteria in the gut, are worth about €90 million in the European marketplace but are forecast to reach €179.7 million by 2010, according to Frost & Sullivan. Leatherhead is currently looking into the effects of different proteins and peptides on satiety. This collaborative project was launched in response to the worsening global obesity, which resulted in Leatherhead turning to in-depth research into the nutrient-based mechanics of appetite regulation.

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