A healthy mind in a healthy body is a widely used mantra, now even more relevant than ever before. Since 2020, consumers’ behavior has evolved: 64% are now more conscious about their immunity and 43% about their mental well-being (FMCG Gurus). People are very aware of the importance of putting both physical and mental health on an equal footing. But where to start?
Guidelines for physical health are well known: exercising, healthy eating, good hygiene and now, social distancing. Then, to help reach psychological well-being, yoga, mindfulness meditation and a balanced lifestyle are tools to keep in mind. In parallel, there are some ways to proactively reinforce natural defenses and mental health. The use of food supplements will help fulfill both physical and psychological gaps. Probiotics will bring additional assistance to keep the right balance. Beyond gut health support, probiotics have been abundantly studied and have shown significant results in strengthened immunity, and more recently in mental health areas. How can probiotics multitask to that extent? Everything connects to the gut, and this is where the magic happens. Actually, not magic, but science!
THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
The gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) is the largest immune network in the body. In fact, 70% of the immune system resides in the gut. The immune system’s main function is to protect the body by ensuring that any ‘non-self’ antigens are cleared from the body; this is done by the immune system recognizing itself and other common environmental antigens (food, airborne substances, clothing, etc.) as ‘self’ and not a threat. In a perfect world, the immune system performs these two roles perfectly; this is homeostasis, or a healthy state. A proper balance is needed, an over aggressive immune system is not beneficial and counterproductive, and an under aggressive immune system is weak.
The relationship between the immune system and the gut microbiota is supported by a wide array of scientific evidence. The digestive microflora plays a key role in the development and maintenance of immune defenses. In the same way as the immune system, the digestive microbiota evolves through life, and its balance is impacted by many factors including stress, diet, age, etc. In this context, the use of probiotics, through their ability to balance and interact with the host microbiota has appeared as a potential strategy to positively influence the immune response [Harper, 2020].
THE BRAIN-GUT AXIS
The brain and the gut communicate through a vast network of 500 million neurons innervating the gut. That’s why the gut is sometimes referred to as the ‘second brain’ due to its hosting the enteric nervous system (ENS), a neural network that allows the gut to work without instructions from the brain [Liang, 2018]. The ENS maintains control of the digestive system; it plays an important role in peristalsis, digestive enzyme secretion, and pain perception. Being home to intestinal microflora, there is now evidence the gut and its microbiome work together to affect not only gut function and immunity, but also endocrine functions and neurotransmission. This is the microbiota-gut-brain axis concept. The benefits of probiotics for the brain-gut axis are now described in several studies and meta-analyses. A recently published meta-analysis showed a significant improvement in depression and anxiety with the use of probiotic or symbiotic interventions [Liu, 2019].
Nowadays, the connection between probiotics and the brain-gut axis is increasingly well understood. Scientifics can draw a good picture of the pathways involved in this bidirectional communication. As an example, these mechanisms have been monitored in several mechanistic studies with the probiotic formula, Cerebiome®, showing specific modes of action, including but not limited to: the modulation of neurotransmitters synthesis like serotonin from dietary amino acid like tryptophan, a positive impact on behavior, the support of a healthy brain structure, the modulation of the HPA axis and the modulation through the vagus nerve. Cerebiome® (L. helveticus Rosell®-52 & B. longum Rosell®-175) is the most documented psychobiotic in the world, with five clinical studies and nine preclinical studies in the brain-gut axis area and approved health claims in Canada and Brazil on mood, feelings of anxiety and stress-related gastrointestinal discomfort.
THE UNDERLYING INTERACTIONS BETWEEN STRESS AND IMMUNITY
Stress is a worldwide concern, and its impacts on general health and well-being are well known. Gut discomfort and associated symptoms are easily perceived by the consumers; however, they may not be aware that stress also takes a toll on the immune system. Over the past 30 years, more than 300 studies have been conducted on stress and immunity in humans, and together they have shown that psychological challenges can modify various features of the immune response [Segerstrom, 2004]. Stress can influence the severity of infectious disease, decrease the immune responses to vaccines or reactivate latent herpes viruses.
TOP SOLUTION FOR INFANT AND CHILD IMMUNITY
Probiokid® (L. helveticus Rosell®-52, B. infantis Rosell®-33,B. bifidum Rosell®-71 and FOS) is backed by 11 clinical studies on infants and children and is renown to support immune system maturation and baby-specific microflora. This super formula is Generally recognized as safe (GRAS) and each strain has been authorized in infant food in China.
Probiokid® and its single strains have showed their beneficial effects in babies during their first year of life. In a study of 132, three-and-a-half-month to six-month-old healthy, formula-fed babies, Probiokid® was able to maintain SIgA levels, compared to the placebo group, supporting and maintaining a normal intestinal immunity [Xiao, 2019].
Cazzola et al. published a study in 2010 involving 135 healthy, school-age children who had at least three episodes of cold-like symptoms during the previous winter. A three-month supplementation with Probiokid® was able to decrease the risk of occurrence of cold-like symptoms in these children by 25% vs.placebo (p=0.044) and to significantly limit school absenteeism by 40% (p=0.043).
DOCUMENTED SOLUTIONS FOR IMMUNITY IN STRESSED STUDENTS
Teenagers and young adults’ lifestyle and occasional stress can also be concomitant to suboptimal immunity. Researchers were interested in academically stressed students as a model of acute psychological stress, which is associated with increased incidence of cold and flu-like symptoms. A large probiotic study conducted in 581 stressed students at University of Florida during final exams for the autumn semester [Langkamp-Henken, 2015] showed that the students who received B. bifidum Rosell®-71 had a higher proportion of healthy days around the exam period compared to the placebo group. Researchers saw a 45% reduction in the percentage of participants who became ill (p<0.05vs. placebo) and fewer episodes of cold/flu-like symptoms when compared with the placebo (p<0.05). In a post hocanalysis, [Culpepper, 2016], it was also demonstrated that B. bifidum Rosell®-71 had a positive effect on self reported stress scores (p=0.0086) and reduced stress-induced occasional diarrhea (p=0.006).
ACTIVE ADULTS’ IMMUNITY ALSO NEEDS TO BE CARED FOR
In overtrained athletes or even in people exercising more than they previously would, particularly during winter or at the seasonal transitions, chronic stress and high intensity exercise could reduce immune defenses. A pre-post intervention study was conducted with L. helveticus LAFTI® L10 in two groups of well-trained recreational athletes: eighteen healthy athletes and nine fatigued athletes, with recurrent cold-like symptoms and impaired performance. The study showed that L. helveticus LAFTI® L10 helped to recover a healthy immune balance: after one month of L. helveticusLAFTI® L10 administration, CD4+ T cells secretion of IFN-γ in fatigued athletes was restored to the levels found in healthy athletes [Clancy, 2006]. The results of this study are correlated with previous in vivo studies whereby L. helveticus LAFTI® L10 induced the production of IFN-γ in challenged animals [Elahi, 2005].
READY-TO-MARKET PROBIOTIC SOLUTIONS FOR IMMUNE AND MENTAL HEALTH
FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY
Choose from Lallemand Health Solutions scientifically substantiated Rosell®, LAFTI® or Harmonium probiotic strains portfolio to build your own formula to support immunity and mental health. Pick from a list of compatible ingredients, including vitamins B6, B9, C, D, and minerals such as magnesium, selenium and zinc for extra claims. Expert in yeast production, Lallemand Health Solutions allows you to stand out in your market by adding a selection of yeast-based ingredients to further support natural defenses. Over the years, Lallemand Health Solutions has developed a large range of innovative dosage forms such as powder, capsules, sachets and sticks, drops, room-stable chewable tablets, and packaging options to fit all needs.
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