Exploring gut health and immunity


Around the globe, immune health remains a top priority for consumers and as a result, for health and nutrition brands. Particularly following the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, there is rising interest in the body’s ability to fight off disease and illness, as well as the ways immunity can be supported. In addition, interest in the body’s natural defences tends to heighten annually around the colder winter months, when cold and flu can be more prevalent.

For product formulators, the opportunities in immune health support are many as consumers get more proactive with matters of health and wellbeing.

The commercial strength of today’s immune health focus is clear in market projections. Intelligence firm Grand View Research, for example, forecasts a strong 11.3%[1] compound annual growth rate for the immune health supplement market to 2028. The organisation’s research notes surging consumer demand for supplement products that address immune health.

The term ‘immune system’ tends to conjure images of blood cells attacking pathogens but growing awareness of gut health and advancing scientific research highlights that the gut microbiome can play an essential role in supporting immune health.

What is the gut microbiome?

As consumers become more proactive with their health education, the importance of the gut microbiome comes to the forefront. This includes immune health and notably, around 70-80% of the body’s immune cells actually reside in the gut.

There is a symbiotic relationship at work, and the gut microbiome – the community of trillions of bacteria in the gut – is crucial to understanding this gut-immunity interplay.

Certain types of bacteria are considered beneficial, as they support or influence non-digestive areas of health. These ‘good’ bacteria have been associated with a wide range of health areas, including mental health, cognition, gastrointestinal health, and immune function.

Of the bacteria in the gut microbiome, understood to number in their trillions, not all types are considered beneficial. Since the composition of the gut microbiome is not fixed, the term ‘gut health’ is often used to describe the balance of beneficial and non-beneficial bacteria in the gut microbiome.

Click here to learn more about bifidobacteria, a beneficial bacteria found in the gut microbiome.

How does the gut influence the immune function?

As gut health sciences advance, it uncovers more about how gut bacteria interact with the body and influence health. Bacteria in the gut helps the body to produce a wide array of essential nutrients and substances that cells could not produce on their own.

The compounds that are produced by microbiota depends on the bacterial composition, which underlines the importance of a diverse gut microbiome, inhabited by many different types of beneficial bacteria.

Gut bacteria ‘educate’ the immune system from birth. As humans grow and develop through infancy, they are exposed to new environments, along with new microbes and potential pathogens. The gut microbiome teaches immune cells to be selective in their response, helping the immune system to find balance in reaction and tolerance and avoid immune over-mobilisation.

In addition, the balance of bacteria in the gut supports the production of signalling molecules, which the body relies on for information. A diverse and balanced gut microbiome is essential for helping important signals, including those modulating immune defence, to be carried around the body’s many pathways.

Where do prebiotics fit in?

Prebiotics, comprising dietary fibres, nourish beneficial bacteria in the gut microbiome. As consumer interest in prebiotics continues to expand around the world, prebiotic functional ingredients offer a number of important benefits in formulations, for example digestive and immune health support.

As the most studied prebiotic of its kind, supported by over 100 scientific publications including more than 20 clinical trials, Bimuno® GOS is a great example. The ingredient has been shown to  selectively nourish bifidobacteria, a beneficial bacteria associated with gastrointestinal health, mental health and immune function.

Prebiotics are a non-digestible fibre substrate rather than a living organism (such as probiotics), which makes them highly versatile for formulations, resistant to a wide range of heats and acidities.

This flexibility means prebiotics such as Bimuno GOS can be added to formulation recipes at practically any point and can be applied to a very wide and diverse range of product applications. The ingredient benefits from a low efficacious dose beginning from just 1.37g, adding further benefits in versatility, as well as in handling and logistics for formulators.

Further strengthening the case for the inclusion of Bimuno GOS in immune health formulations, numerous publications and clinical trials using Bimuno have shown promising results on its ability to support immune health.

Looking to develop your next generation of immune health supporting products?

Bimuno GOS provides a scientifically backed and highly versatile ingredient that can be added to a wide range of products, including dedicated supplements, gummies, functional food, baked goods, and beverages.

Explore the many advantages of Bimuno GOS and get in touch with our team today.

[1] https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/immune-health-supplements-market-report