How are synbiotics defined and where does Bimuno® fit in?

When considering the medium and long-term outlook for gut health-oriented nutraceuticals, there are a number of key trends on the upswing.

As consumers tune in to the gut’s importance in physical health and the benefits of supporting the gut microbiome, the market for supplements continue to grow apace. The momentum is fuelled by growing awareness of prebiotics and probiotics and consumers seeking to take a more proactive approach to wellness.

The figures alone are staggering – according to commercial intelligence agency Grand View Research, the global market for galactooligosacharrides (GOS) prebiotics has shown a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.6%, projected to continue to 2026 from a global value of $637 million in 2015. Similarly, the probiotic category, which has been available on the market for considerably longer, is experiencing a 6.9% CAGR

The rising market value of prebiotic and probiotic products speaks to the growing awareness of gut health – but there is also a third ‘-biotic’ category on the rise; synbiotics.

The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP), of which Clasado Biosciences is an industry member, has recently brought greater clarity to the synbiotic category by outlining the definition and scope for synbiotics in the context of today’s consumer-led market. Click here to read an earlier ISAPP blog about synbiotics, published ahead of a formal definition. 

Why is a standardised definition important?

By necessity, the health and nutrition market must be regulated and part of this lies in standardising definitions. The gut health sector is a prime example of why clear, replicable definition matters. The science is advancing as such a pace that the consumer is faced with more choice in pharmacies and on store shelves than ever before. Standardising a definition sets a minimum benchmark that products must meet in order to be part of that category. 

In turn, this helps to protect the category as it grows. A standardised definition means that developers cannot create a product and call it a synbiotic if it doesn’t meet the fundamental requirements. As consumer trust becomes ever more important to modern retail and commerce, this assures the buyer that when they purchase a synbiotic, it will meet a certain set of criteria.

ISAPP is aiming to create an inclusive definition that encourages more businesses to develop synbiotic solutions, which ultimately offers more choice for the consumer and greater credibility for the category.

Finally, a standardised definition is useful from a scientific perspective as the synbiotic category develops. A fixed outline of what products constitute synbiotics will help to sharpen research efforts that focus solely on this category by excluding periphery products.

What is a synbiotic?

To understand a synbiotic and its role in physical health, it’s essential to have clarity on prebiotics and probiotics, because the synergy between the two is paramount. 

Prebiotics are a type of dietary fibre that are used to nourish and fuel certain types of ‘good bacteria’ in the gut. As science continues to reveal more of the gut’s importance to physical health, using a prebiotic to encourage growth of more beneficial bacteria is one approach that has grown in use in a relatively short space of time.

Where prebiotics are a substrate that feed bacteria found in the gut, probiotics add more ‘good bacteria’ directly into the gut microbiome. 

The two technologies represent two different ways to alter the gut microbiome towards a more favourable composition. Synbiotics are the synergistic combination of these two approaches. 

The core benefit is that a synbiotic blends two distinct mechanisms with the same desired outcome of a more beneficial microbiome composition. Where a prebiotic feeds existing microbes and probiotics introduce live microorganisms into the gut, a synbiotic does both.

There is ample evidence that prebiotics and probiotics can be beneficial to health, and so synbiotics could be a way to mix the best of both worlds for the consumer. 

By way of a standardised definition to bring clarity to scientists, product developers and consumers, ISAPP panel members formally identify a synbiotic as “a mixture, comprising live microorganisms and substrates selectively used by host microorganisms that confers a health benefit on the host”.

Are there different types of synbiotic?

Looking further into the recently unveiled classification, ISAPP has defined two subsets of synbiotic that represent two approaches to formulation.  

The first is a synergistic synbiotic, in which the prebiotic substrate is designed to be utilised by the micro-organisms that have been co-administered in the synbiotic. The components work together to bring about a desired health benefit.

The second is a complementary synbiotic, in which the prebiotic element is designed to target authochtonous (or resident) microorganisms in the gut rather than those in the same synbiotic product. Unlike the former type, each part works independently to achieve one or more desired health benefits.

The agreed definition by the ISAPP panel also comments on the use of the term ‘symbiotic’. This is not considered to be a synonym of synbiotic and is incorrect in this context. 

Where does Bimuno® fit in?

Brands and product developers looking to tap into the growing category of synbiotics have an increasingly diverse selection of ingredients to choose from. As the science powering gut health continues to gather pace, Bimuno® is emerging as a strong option for use in synbiotic products. The key is in how this prebiotic ingredient has been developed and shaped. Bimuno has been developed with science at the forefront, matched with the versatility that is so crucial for today’s product designers.

Bimuno is the most studied prebiotic of its kind, supported by over 90 scientific publications, including more than 20 clinical studies. As the consumer demand for evidence-backed solutions grows, Bimuno offers brands the flexibility to create gut health-oriented food supplements that appeal to today’s discerning shopper. Naturally, this versatility and stability lends itself to the creation of synbiotics, where Bimuno can act as the prebiotic component alongside a probiotic.

Putting the focus on microbiome support, Bimuno is designed to selectively target and nourish bifidobacteria, a type of good bacteria found in the gut. Bifidobacteria is associated with several key benefits to physical health and immunity, and alongside that the gut microbiome collectively is understood to also influence mental health and cognition. 

Bimuno can be found in formulations across the globe, including Europe, North America and Asia. Demonstrating the consumer appeal of a proven prebiotic ingredient, Bimuno also acts as the functional ingredient in Clasado Biosciences’ own award-winning range of dietary fibre supplements – Bimuno®DAILY, Bimuno®IBAID and Bimuno®TRAVELAID.Brands looking to develop synbiotic products, such as standalone supplements or functional food products, find a compelling case for using Bimuno as the prebiotic component. Click here to find out more about Bimuno and the science that connects with today’s engaged and proactive consumer.