Building an ironclad immunity with gut-friendly food

As more countries in Asia ease Covid-19 restrictions, maintaining good health and immunity continues to remain at the top of many people’s agendas. Consumers have made it their utmost priority to strengthen and maintain their immune system — the body’s first line of defence against diseases. 

What most may not know, is that our gut houses 70% of our inner defence system, therefore making it an instrumental target for any nutritional plan. A balanced diet and a smart choice of nutrient intake that reinforces digestive health is thus a great way to support our inner defence system in a long-lasting manner, ensuring we are in optimal condition to fend off current and future health threats.

Breaking down the science
The large intestine, the section of our gut that houses the majority of our immune system, is home to trillions of microorganisms that live both inside the gut and on the inner surface of the gut wall. 

Imagine the gut as a steel pipe with room inside for food residue, faeces and microbiota biomass. The surrounding steel symbolises the gut wall structure — a wall to protect the inside from the outside and vice versa. The cells of the immune system in the intestine and the microbiota living there are interconnected, as a human “inner defence force”.

The composition of the microorganism populations living in the large intestine is influenced by many factors. There is, however, a natural way to selectively promote the growth of good bacteria: providing the bifidobacteria with food that helps them grow in the quickest possible way. Gut friendly foods, such as prebiotics, can be supportive in nourishing the microbiota. The selective increase in bifidobacteria helps to support a person’s digestive health and overall wellbeing, whilst helping to keep their inner defence system in good shape. 

BENEO’s Orafti® Inulin and Oligofructose (chicory root fibres) are clinically proven and natural prebiotics that can be added to various products to suit the palate of the consumer. Furthermore, chicory root fibres are the only proven plant-based prebiotics.  

In fact, BENEO’s functional fibres have been shown to support a healthy microbiota and the selective increase in bifidobacteria in more than 50 human intervention studies. Health benefits related include, among others, improved digestive health as well as a boosted inner defence and immunity that counteract systemic inflammation and other aspects. An EU approved health claim granted for BENEO’s Orafti® Inulin also confirms the beneficial effect on digestive health by improving bowel regularity.

The benefits of chicory root for young and old
The plethora of benefits extends across the age spectrum as well. Inulin and oligofructose can support bifidobacteria growth not only in adults, but infants and small children too.

In a systematic review and meta-analysis that assessed the efficacy of prebiotics in the prevention of acute infectious diseases in children 0 - 24 months old, researchers concluded that “prebiotics may also be effective in decreasing the rate of overall infections” in that age group1 .

A high-quality human intervention study2 was also conducted in 142 elderly patients hospitalised for Clostridium difficile-induced diarrhoea. One group of patients received 12g/day of oligofructose, while the other received 12g/day of sucrose as a placebo, for 30 days. Relapses of diarrhoea were significantly more common in the placebo group than in the oligofructose group, which resulted in significantly longer hospitalisation for the patients who received the placebo. Improvements in aspects of immune response were proven in other studies of vaccination trials3 as well.

How food manufacturers come into the picture
With 77% of Asia Pacific consumers saying they recognize the connection between digestive health issues and their overall health4, food manufacturers now have a reason to reinvent their catalogues. 

Apart from the ironclad scientific evidence of its health benefits, BENEO’s Orafti® Inulin and Oligofructose (chicory root fibres) also boast technicalities that allow them to be easily used in most food and drink applications, making them ideal in production processes. There is no better time than now for food manufacturers to start supporting consumers on their journey to a healthier lifestyle.