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Boosting Immunity Through the Gut: How Prebiotics and Probiotics Enhance Overall Well-being

Category: Dietary Supplements

The one health aspect on everyone’s mind right now (and for the foreseeable future) is “immune system.”

Unlike the brain, heart or liver, organs we can identify and generally locate in our bodies, ask someone to point to his or her immune system…you’re likely to get differing opinions or maybe even no response to the question. While immune activity occurs throughout the body, if someone points to his or her gut, this is largely correct. And this is where products (supplements, foods and beverages) formulated for immunity can provide benefit. Immune support products featuring prebiotics and probiotics are the products not only of the future – but of the now.

Research is revealing more clearly the strong relationship between the GI tract and the immune system. The intestines contain more immune cells than the entire rest of the human body. In many cases, immune dysfunction begins with a ‘failure to communicate’ in the human gut. Considering 80 percent of the immune system is in the digestive tract, maintaining a healthy gut is a major focal point in the pursuit to support overall health and immunity.

When the digestive system is functioning properly it serves as a barrier to bacteria, viruses and pathogens. Poor digestion leaves the body and the immune system lacking key components for building blocks, barriers, body defense mechanisms.

How Probiotics Prime the Immune System
Probiotics have been used largely to improve gut health by restoring and maintaining favorable intestinal microbiota. Probiotics support the gut microbiota by producing bacteriocins, facilitating competitive inhibition of pathogenic bacteria, inhibiting bacterial adherence, reducing luminal pH, enhancing the intestinal barrier function by increasing mucus production, producing short chain fatty acids, creating essential amino acids and other nutrients the body needs to function and grow. All these activities result in strengthening immune function.

Probiotics play a crucial role in the development and operation of the mucosal immune system in the digestive tract. When the mucosal membrane lining of the intestines is compromised, immunity is also compromised and there is a greater risk of symptom development.

Bifidobacteria in the intestines are known to provide gut barrier protection. In addition, research has shown that Bifidobacteria help to support the immune system by regulating activity of lymphocytes and phagocytes, which are cells that are essential for fighting infections. Many strains of Lactobacilli have also been shown to support immune function.

Bacillus subtilis has been shown to promote healthy digestion in the intestinal tract, and it also produces various enzymes that facilitate digestion and excretion. It regulates the host’s microbiota and inhibits the growth of pathogenic bacteria. All these activities create an optimal environment for the immune system to function. B. subtilis is a spore-forming probiotic, characterized by its ability to form an endospore (a tough shell) to protect itself from potentially degrading conditions.

The DE111® strain of B. subtilis dually promotes healthy digestive function and immune response by helping resident beneficial bacteria to flourish and multiply, better prohibiting pathogenic or irrelevant bacteria from nestling in. DE111 also primes the immune system, so when foreign invaders enter, the body is able to react faster and stronger to push back and destroy them. Multiple clinical studies support the digestive and immune health benefits of DE111:

  • One study showed that the spore-former generated favorable microbial balance in the gut, supports more effective lower GI digestion and thus supporting overall health.
  • A study in collegiate athletes revealed that after taking DE111® along with post-workout protein supplements for three months, their immune markers were improved and there was a reduction in the pro-inflammatory compound TNF-α.
  • A recently completed study of 93 healthy young children showed that DE111® consumption helped improve immune response. For example, DE111 showed a significant decrease in duration of symptoms associated with illness (cold/flu). Significant differences in the DE111 group included reduced duration of hard stools and vomiting.
  • Preliminary results of a soon-to-be-published study showed that DE111® consumption correlated with a decrease in the basal levels of several immune cell populations, and that the probiotic was able to improve the body’s immune response by eliciting a quicker response to an inflammation stimulus.

A product addressing immune health can be empowered by the addition of a prebiotic, which supports the proliferation of good bacteria (probiotics) in the gut. Deerland’s innovative prebiotic ingredient is PreforPro®, a unique prebiotic bacteriophage blend that modulates the microbiota and begins to work several hours after ingestion.

PreforPro is a dual-action prebiotic – it destabilizes the cell wall of the undesirable bacteria, which then provides nutrients and space for the good bacteria to grow. PreforPro has been shown to modulate the gut microbiota and encourage the balance of good bacteria over bad. With the unwanted bacteria at a disadvantage, healthy probiotic bacteria have room to take up residence in the gut and flourish. This results in better digestion and improved immune support.

In a clinical study, after 28-days of consuming 15mg of PreforPro daily, researchers found that the phage cocktail positively influenced the gut microbiota, including increased populations of the genera Eubacteria, one of the most abundant in the healthy human gut. Additionally, the researchers saw a reduction in the circulating pro-inflammatory cytokine Il-4.

Launching an Immune Support Supplement Product
At Deerland, our formulation expertise is anchored by the knowledge of how probiotics and prebiotics can work in concert with other functional ingredients.

A sound formulation for a product that supports immune health could include a combination of spore-forming probiotic strains including Bacillus subtilis DE111®, along with additional immunostimulants, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants known for supporting immunity like Vitamin C, Zinc and beta-glucans. Deerland works with customers to develop and launch such products based on the customers target market or specific needs. An additional turnkey product solution is the YourBrand Immuno product line offered by Deerland. These products are available in capsules, fast melt stick packs, mixable powder stick packs and chewable tablets, and are formulated to include Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium animalis and Vitamin C. Deerland formulates products with ingredients based on studies showing that they can promote healthy immune functions and help support the body’s natural immune system defenses.

After all, the best defense is an optimally functioning defense.


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Digestible is your go-to resource for learning about enzymes, probiotics and their impact on digestive health. Keep up with the latest trends in dietary supplements, learn why gut health is critical to overall wellness and immunity, and the science behind it all.

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