The gut brain axis as a product development area has been gaining significant traction in recent years. More and more research is pointing to the notion that microbial reactions in the gut can stimulate the neural pathways that connect the two organs.
Studies in mice, for example, have shown that seeding a confident mouse (as measured by its free roaming behavior within a cage) with the microbiome taken from one of its more diffident peers will change that mouse’s behavior. Further studies in portions of mouse guts used as a model are yielding additional results about how organisms in the gut interact with the vagus nerve, which is the primary connection between the brain and the gut.
Ingredients supported by raft of research
Taiyo, which is based in Japan but has a North American headquarters in Minneapolis, is noted for the comprehensive scientific suites it builds up on its ingredients. The company’s plan to address interest in the gut brain connection is to pair two ingredients that have been under development for years, each of which has firm backing in their respective target areas.
One is Suntheanine, a branded form of l-theanine, a constituent of tea. The other is Sunfiber, Taiyo’s branded form of purified guar fiber. Both ingredients are supported by a raft of studies, said technical sales manager Derek Timm. Timm spoke with NutraIngredients-USA at the recent Expo West trade show in Anaheim, CA.
“Sunfiber has more than 120 clinical studies ranging form people with mild constipation to IBS to anything in between,” Timm said. “The Suntheanine product has more than 60 clinical studies looking at anything from concentration, to mood, to a decrease of jitteriness you see with caffeine consumption.”
While Taiyo has ample evidence for action of the ingredients in isolation, it does not have specific data on how they work in combination. The gut brain action the company is marketing the combination on is an extrapolation of existing data. Taiyo is far from alone in this; the whole idea is so new that few companies have done those sorts of specific studies yet. That is something that Taiyo plans to change, Timm said.
“We feel that we can substantiate a brain claim as well as a gut claim, but it’s really on us to get the best data we can to support the ingredients,” he said.