The clinical validation of probiotics and postbiotics is unlocking opportunities to act on a multitude of important health outcomes, enabling consumers to improve their wellbeing while reducing use of chemical drugs. Advances in recent years at organizations such as the Bioflag Group are supporting the use of probiotics and postbiotics in areas including sport performance, allergy relief, oral health and chronic kidney disease.
In sports nutrition, researchers have demonstrated the effects of combining Bifidobacterium longum with exercise training. One study randomized 21 well-trained middle- and long-distance runners to take placebo or OLP-01, a B. longum strain isolated from an Olympic weightlifting gold medalist, for five weeks. All subjects did three weeks of training and two weeks of de-training.1
At baseline, the placebo and OLP-01 cohorts performed comparably on a 12-minute running test. After five weeks, subjects on OLP-01 were running 105 meters more in the fourth interval than before they started taking the supplement. In contrast, the running distance in the placebo cohort fell 56 meters. Statistically significant differences between the running distances of the two groups were also seen after six and nine minutes.
The clinical data reinforced the findings of earlier studies. After isolating OLP-01 from the Olympian, researchers tested the probiotic in mice. One animal study linked OLP-01 to improved grip strength and endurance.2 A second preclinical evaluation found mice that took OLP-01 and participated in an exercise program had superior endurance and improved on fatigue-associated indexes.3
Validating probiotics in the clinic
Sports nutrition is a significant opportunity for the probiotics industry, with sales in 2019 topping $21 billion, but it is far from the only use case.4 Rather, probiotics and prebiotics can be used to achieve a wide range of holistic benefits.
A different strain of B. longum has shown promise in chronic kidney disease (CKD) when given in combination with other probiotics. The study assessed a combination of the B. longum subsp. infantis, Lactobacillus acidophilus and B. bifidum.5 CKD patients took the combination, which is marketed by Bioflag as PRONULIFE RenaProtect, twice a day for six months.
After six months of treatment, the rate of decline in estimated glomerular filtration rate, a measure of kidney function, was significantly lower. The slowing decline was accompanied by significant falls in serum levels of endotoxin and inflammatory cytokines. The clinical findings are in line with results from a study in mice.
Researchers have also identified opportunities to use probiotics in the management of oral health. A cocktail of three lactobacilli strains or placebo was given to 50 healthy individuals for four weeks.6 After two weeks, the antibacterial activities of viable probiotics were evident and most participants reported improved oral and intestinal health. Bioflag sells the combination as PRONULIFE OraProtect-L.
The study of probiotics in oral health reflects interest in the use of bacteria to modulate the oral immune response. Researchers are also exploring the effect of probiotics on the immune system in general. An evaluation of Lactobacillus rhamnosus in infants with atopic dermatitis linked the strain to a reduction in symptoms at eight weeks.7 Another immunoregulation trial validated the use of the strain, which Bioflag markets as Lactobacillus rhamnosus MP108, in children with allergic rhinitis.
Developing a new class of products
The growth in the number of validated applications of probiotics is being complemented by the rise of a relatively new class of products: postbiotics. While probiotics contain live bacteria, postbiotics are made up of non-viable microorganisms or their cellular components and metabolites. Interest in postbiotics is underpinned by evidence that metabolites, not live bacteria, drive some of the health benefits linked to probiotics.
Using postbiotics to achieve positive health outcomes confers certain advantages. Postbiotics have a longer shelf life and act faster than probiotics, as well as having high safety and being applicable to all populations. The characteristics are attracting consumer interest, with Mintel finding that attention on postbiotics on social media almost doubled in 2019.
Bioflag is supporting the rise of postbiotics with products aimed at gut health, Totipro ® PE0401, and oral health, Totipro® PE0301. The ingredients are suitable for formulation into a variety of dosage forms such as healthy snacks, candy and beverages, opening up new ways for consumers to improve their wellbeing through functional foods.
The emergence of postbiotics as a new pillar of the nutrition industry, coupled to the continued validation of probiotics, positions manufacturers to grow sales by providing consumers with new, more effective and convenient ways to manage their health. Bioflag is supporting the process with its wide range of clinically validated probiotics and postbiotics.
1. Lin, C.-L. et al. Bifidobacterium longum subsp. longum OLP-01 supplementation during endurance running training improves exercise performance in middle-and long-distance runners: A double-blind controlled trial. Nutrients 12, 1972 (2020).
2. Lee, M.-C. et al. In Vivo Ergogenic Properties of the Bifidobacterium longum OLP-01 Isolated from a Weightlifting Gold Medalist. Nutrients 11, (2019).
3. Huang, W.-C., Hsu, Y.-J., Huang, C.-C., Liu, H.-C. & Lee, M.-C. Exercise Training Combined with Bifidobacterium longum OLP-01 Supplementation Improves Exercise Physiological Adaption and Performance. Nutrients 12, (2020).
4. A look inside the sports nutrition market – what are the latest consumer trends? https://www.tateandlyle.com/news/look-inside-sports-nutrition-market-what-are-latest-consumer-trends.
5. Wang, I.-K. et al. Effect of a Probiotic Combination in an Experimental Mouse Model and Clinical Patients With Chronic Kidney Disease: A Pilot Study. Front Nutr 8, 661794 (2021).
6. Lin, C.-W. et al. Lozenges with probiotic strains enhance oral immune response and health. Oral Dis. (2021) doi:10.1111/odi.13854.
7. Wu, Y.-J. et al. Evaluation of efficacy and safety of Lactobacillus rhamnosus in children aged 4-48 months with atopic dermatitis: An 8-week, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. J. Microbiol. Immunol. Infect. 50, 684–692 (2017).