- Discovery of digestive system function and the gut microbiome has been unfolding for the last two decades.
- After fermentation in the gut, prebiotics stimulate the growth of probiotic bacteria, to beneficial effect.
- Resistant starches, like polysaccharides derived from turmeric, show potential as prebiotics.
The food we eat is converted into energy and nutrients by the intricate digestive system, starting from the mouth, to the stomach, and the intestines. The last two decades have seen the discovery and preliminary understanding of a particular silent organ for digesting food, which is not found in the anatomy of the digestive system. The gut microbiome is made up of trillions of bacteria that play an important role in many aspects of our health and well-being, including breaking down molecules in food.1 The interaction between human and microbiome starts as early as birth. Its composition is directly dependent on our food intake.2
Apart from digestion, the gut microbiome influences the immune system, prevents autoimmunity, controls the production of hormones such as insulin and leptin, and may also have an impact on neurotransmitters, connecting the gut to brain health.3,4 These beneficial bacteria, probiotics, balance the gut, prevent the overgrowth of pathogenic organisms and are even reported to support healthy blood pressure and weight loss.5,6 The gut microbiome diversifies with age, ethnicity, lifestyle, and dietary habits. Stress, illness, infection, antibiotic use, and a diet rich in refined sugar undermine a healthy gut microbiome, resulting in varied symptoms like bloating, gas, indigestion, constipation or diarrhea, fatigue, and even brain fog.
How can we maintain the balance of probiotics in the gut? Probiotic supplements, including fermented foods, can replenish this good bacteria, while prebiotics nurture the probiotic community.
A prebiotic is defined as “a selectively fermented ingredient that allows specific changes, both in the composition and activity in the gastrointestinal microflora, thus improving host health.”7Prebiotics are fibers that are resistant to gastric acidity and hydrolysis by mammalian enzymes, and not absorbed in the upper GI tract. After the intestinal microbiota ferments them, they selectively stimulate the growth of probiotic bacteria in the gut.7 They are selectively hydrolyzed in the colon by the beneficial bacteria to produce different short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). They also increase the stool mass, reduce colonic pH, reduce nitrous end products and fecal enzymes, and improve the immune system.8 Some of the other health benefits of prebiotics include reduction in inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), reduction in the prevalence of infection-associated diarrhea, enhancing the bioavailability of minerals especially calcium and magnesium, promoting satiety, inducing weight loss, and possibly lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.9
Sabinsa scientists have been investigating these actions and benefits in support of Starmeric, a polysaccharide from turmeric (Curcuma longa) consisting of resistant starch (insoluble starch having high percentage of amylose linked to hydrophobic moiety such as lipids or protein), which contains 9% hydrophobic glycoprotein.
Resistant starch has several health benefits. While normal starch is generally broken down in the small intestine, resistant starch is broken down to butyrate by probiotic bacteria in the colon or large intestine.10 Butyrate reduces inflammation and is highly beneficial to the immune system.11 It can also increase metabolism, heal the gut, and reduce food allergies.12,13 Resistant starch can induce satiety, which helps reduce food intake and supports metabolic health.14
Unpublished in vitro studies confirmed that Starmeric is resistant to acid and pancreatic enzyme hydrolysis.
Starmeric was fermented by probiotic bacteria including Bacillus coagulans MTCC 5856 (LactoSpore), Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus helveticus and Lactobacillus rhamnosus as sole nutritional source. Further, Starmeric could be converted into short-chain fatty acids by probiotic microorganisms. These results, as shown in the following table, suggest the potential of Starmeric as a prebiotic fiber.
Table 1. Hydrolysis of Starmeric to short-chain fatty acids by LactoSpore®
Further, unpublished in vitro and preclinical studies revealed that Starmeric has potent anti-inflammatory activity.
Starmeric is a resistant starch with anti-inflammatory activity plus a prebiotic effect and therefore may have health benefits in balancing the gut microbiome and metabolic syndrome, which may induce satiety and support healthy weight management.
Shaheen Majeed, president of Sabinsa Worldwide, has been involved in nearly everything the Sami Labs/Sabinsa Group of Companies does. He oversees Sabinsa’s contract farming program to ensure best agricultural practices and fair pay for farmers, is involved in the cGMP (current good manufacturing practice) and regulatory compliance at their factories and offices throughout the world, and oversees GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status applications.
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