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Danone’s expertise on Gut Health featured in scientific journal

The French-language journal Pour La Science has highlighted the work of Nutricia scientists in its latest edition.

Muriel Derrien, Patrick Veiga and Christine M’rini, microbiologist researchers at Nutricia, Danone’s research division, carried out studies on the microbiota science and the role of fermented foods to maintain digestive health.

Now, part of their work has been published in the French magazine “Pour La Science” for its issue on the large intestine, under “Remettre sur pieds le microbiote” (“Putting the microbiota back on its feet”, n°95 April-June 2017).

The article provides extensive information on the benefits of fermentation, the interaction between microbiota, diets and the consumption of fermented foods. The latter is shown to have a positive influence on a rich diversified and well-balanced microbiota. This follows up the previous works in the field on ferments, and confirms the media interest for microbiota — often presented as the intestine’s super power.

Pour La Science, in print since 1977, is the French edition of Scientific American.

Danone’s decades of research

Historically, Danone has always had a predominant role in science and nutrition. In the 19th century, Ukrainian biologist Elie Metchnikoff conducted a pioneering work on lactic ferments. By then, works on fermentation and probiotics have been carried out to the point that they were added to our daily diets. Moreover, interest in lively foods and their effect on human health has increased constantly with a recent focus on digestive health.

With the introduction of fermented yogurt by Isaac Carasso in 1919, Danone’s journey through health began. Danone built its reputation on nutrition and continues to explore new horizons on food research. Its first aim is to align with consumer’s needs and well-being. How? By keeping up with scientific research and anticipating food trends.

The works of Metchnikoff opened up the way for a bubbling field of research and a better understanding of the “microbiota”, the bacterial ecosystem that lives in our intestine: a concrete concern for microbiologists and scientist for the past decades. Their intent is to popularize this field of work and bring awareness on the importance of gut’s health.

In 1919, Isaac Carasso began to sell his first lactic bacteria fermented yogurt, medically prescribed, in Barcelona’s pharmacies.

Gut health’s well-deserved position in research

The advent of our modern life (pollution, excessive hygiene…including alimentation industrialized and processed food, poorer fibre consumption) made us lose contact with some bacteria our ancestors naturally had in their system. It made us more fragile and inclined to some pathologies. Scientists focused on the microbiota because it is easily influenced by our environment and can positively impact health.

As big as a tennis court, the large intestine is one of the most important points of contact between the external world and our organism. Not only it has the role of assimilating nutrients from food, but it also holds nearly 100,000 bacteria (10 times more than our body cells). This intestinal microbiota produces and liberates all kind of molecules that act on the whole body, including the brain, and is, therefore, a key player for our physical and mental health. Experts have come up with theories linking pathologies such as diabetes, Parkinson, autism or anxiety to the microbiota.

Furthermore, the relation between the digestive system and our overall health has been brought up and popularized by a wide range of media from newspapers, lifestyle magazines, books, to more scientific literature. Importance of digestive health has come a long way through raising awareness among consumers. At Danone, we also wish to forecast trends and important health matters. Gut health is a game-changing player that sits within our research divisions.

Our experts on the subject

At Danone, we have known for a long time about the benefits of natural ferments on digestive health. They are part of the brand’s DNA, wisely cultured in our Research & Development laboratories by 660 researchers across 40 countries. “Research is our best ally. The studies are focused on three main axes: firstly, helping the intestine in his role on global health; secondly, helping the digestive tube and the microbiota find its balance in modern-life stress; thirdly, improving individuals’ metabolic health. Moreover, yogurt intake stimulates the system against pathologies such as type II diabetes and obesity”, explains Christine M’rini, Dairy R&D Director.

Christine M’rini, Dairy R&D Director: Head of the LifeScience, Biometrics and Clinical Affairs of the Dairy Division of Danone.

Our experts and researchers have each their own specialization, gut health being one of the most promising research field. What have they come up with? Two notions: richness and diversity. Both would have a direct impact on health and can be approached the following way: Think of it like any other ecosystems: for example, a banana tree plantation is rich but regrouping only one sort of tree. Whereas the Amazonian forest, is also rich but, on the other hand, diversified. What happens if a parasite endangers the species? In the plantation, all trees would be affected as opposed to the wild forest, where if one species is threatened, others can be spared. Their conclusion is that a richer and diversified microbiota can be more resistant to some pathologies.

Currently, Danone focuses on developing technologies for the healthy growth and preservation of the microbiota to insure its diversity and richness. Earlier this April, the Gut Microbiota for Health World Summit 2017 was held in France, a partner of Danone Dairy Research. More workshops and conferences will take place in the months to come, find out more here.

Danone is also present in scientific research of yogurt’s probiotics. Recently a book has been published testifying its numerous benefits, read the article.

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