Eight key learnings from The Gut Microbiome and the Immune System – Part Two

Although much of the science is very new, there is an end goal to the scientific study of the gut microbiome. By analysing and interpreting the effect of illness and disease on the gut, in the future it may be possible to reverse-engineer solutions that treat or soothe symptoms of certain disorders by manipulating the health and biological makeup of the gut and its microbiome itself. 

At Clasado Biosciences, we have recently released a Table Talk podcast, part of the Food Matters digital event, to outline the compelling science that currently drives the gut health sector.

Missed the first part of this blog? Click here to read.

The immune system can be influenced by numerous potential factors

Lucien Harthoorn

“It’s understood that the immune system can be influenced by lifestyle, stress, poor nutrition, and changes as people get older. Particularly with ageing, the decline of the immune system, known as immunosenescence, can play a bigger role. The immune system may react more slowly, and less powerfully, to infections. 

This can affect all parts of the immune system, making an individual more prone to getting ill as they age, or it can also result in more frequent infections that are harder to recover from. “

Evidence suggests that the gut microbiota can influence outcomes on immunity

Lucien Harthoorn

“Evidence suggests a close relationship between the gut and microbiome in various aspects of human health. It is the predominance of beneficial bacteria, such as bifidobacteria, that ensures a healthy condition within the gut, and because of that intense crosstalk between the gut and other organs such as the brain, it influences much broader health aspects within the body. 

About 70% of our immune cells reside in the gut, because the presence or entry of potential pathogens in the gut requires a well-functioning immune system to prevent infections. The nature of the bacteria can influence the immune system.”

Studies have shown galactooligosaccharides (GOS) can positively influence the immune system

Lucien Harthoorn

“Certain fibres and prebiotics can stimulate the growth of particular bacteria in the gut. One of the most studied examples of prebiotic oligosaccharides is Bimuno. When used as a supplement to the human diet, Bimuno has shown to selectively fuel beneficial bifidobacteria in the colon. The stimulation of bifidobacteria in the gut by Bimuno has repeatedly been shown in studies in healthy adults, as well as in cohorts of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and obese individuals. A balanced gut microbiome composition is essential to having a properly working immune defence and immune system. The maintenance of a healthy immune system involves a well-orchestrated regulation of the various types of immune cells and signalling molecules that they produce in the body. 

A particular study of Bimuno has demonstrated significant benefits on several immune parameters. A Bimuno supplement was given to around 40 subjects between 65 and 80 years of age, in a 10-week clinical trial. It proved to increase the phagocytic activity of white blood cells, which is the capacity by which these cells internalise or destroy bacteria. In this study, this GOS also stimulated the activity of another type of cell, Natural Killer cells. These cells play a role in targeting and killing virally infected cells.

These findings were confirmed later in 2015 by another clinical study that demonstrated that supplementation of Bimuno for 10 weeks helped to maintain the immune resilience. Interestingly, in these two studies, an increase in the anti-inflammatory cytokines was seen. One of the examples was Interleukin-10 , but the study also showed a decrease of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as Interleukin-6. These studies showed a clear effect on several immune parameters.”

Bimuno has demonstrated a number of potential mechanisms of action on the effectiveness of the immune system

Lucien Harthoorn

“Overall, the gut microbiome has a significant influence on overall health, specifically the intense crosstalk between the gut and the other organ systems, such as its interplay with the immune system. 

An unbalanced gut microbiome, as well as a compromised gut function, can have a broad impact on human health, including infections and inflammation. It’s known that foods and dietary elements can influence the composition of the gut microbiota. Certain fibres and prebiotics, whether through daily foods or food supplements, can stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria like bifidobacteria in the large intestine. 

Beyond its prebiotic effect and gut health effects, Bimuno has shown immune modulating effects, which are through:

  • Strengthening the first line of immune defence 
  • Gut microbiota modulation 
  • The production of Short Chain Fatty Acids with subsequent effects on immune cell functioning and cytokine release

It can also be by direct interaction with immune cells and intestinal cells. 

Microbiome research is still a massively growing field, and in my opinion, is receiving more attention than it ever has before. Certain associations have been shown between the gut microbiome and the brain, obesity and allergies, but especially in these challenging times, where there is a lot of attention to the link between immunity and the gut microbiome.”There has never been a better time to investigate the benefits of introducing a proven prebiotic ingredient into future functional food and supplements. Find out more about the complex gut microbiome and the powerful science behind the Bimuno prebiotic ingredient here