Interest in probiotics has been on the rise as more consumers are becoming health-conscious.
These functional ingredients — which can be added to products like baby formula, other foods, and supplements — can help maintain healthy digestions, immune responses, and other general well-being of the body.
One specific probiotic, Bifidobacterium, is being added to many food and health products. It plays an important role in regulating the body’s immunological, intestinal, and metabolic systems, including producing short-chain fatty acids and vitamins, helping maintain gut homeostasis and immune system development.
Healthy gut microbiota
Developing a healthy gut microbiota early in life, particularly with a high prevalence of Bifidobacterium, may help healthy neonatal development.
Research shows a healthy gut microbiota — trillions of microbes in the human body — early in life may lead to lifelong well-being.
The first 1,000 days, from conception to two years old, play an important factor in infant development and how the immune system develops and matures.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says, globally, 20 million babies every year are born with low birth weight (LBW), weighing under 5.5 pounds. Infants with LBW have a higher risk of dying in the first 28 days after they’re born. If they survive, they can develop health issues including hyper inflammatory response. LBW may increase an individual’s later-in-life risk for developing diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Allergies are another health concern for infants and children.
Neonatal health development
For over 50 years, Morinaga Milk Industry Co., Ltd. has researched the safety, functional health benefits, and mechanisms of action of probiotic Bifidobacterium to better understand its role in maintaining human health. The company works with food companies on product development including infant nutrition, dietary supplements, and functional foods, and knows that not all the probiotics are the same.
Bifidobacterium spp. is divided into two groups: human-residential bifidobacteria (HRB), occurring naturally in human intestines, and non-HRB, occurring naturally in animal intestines, sewage, or foods. HRB is deemed to be best for human consumption, with infant-type HRB strains being the ideal probiotic for babies, as it’s naturally selected by human breast milk.
HRB strains are superior to non-HRB strains in humans because they produce folate and improve blood hemoglobin levels. Folate is an essential vitamin for cell growth and metabolism. They also potentially protect babies from allergies, type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, and other conditions.
“We focus on human strains and our concept that is different from other companies,” says Chyn Boon Wong, Ph.D., research associate at Morinaga Milk Industry Co., Ltd., explaining Morinaga Milk’s HRB probiotics are innovative.
She says now is the time for food and wellness companies to develop new products incorporating HRB probiotics. That is because more and more consumers base their purchasing decisions on science. She says Morinaga Milk’s HRB probiotics meet rigorous safety and efficacy standards. Their probiotic strains of human residential origin are clinically well-researched and meet the consumer’s desire for natural products.
Adding the probiotic to products is convenient too. For example, with infant nutrition products, the probiotic can be added in a variety of delivery formats including bulk powder, room-stable chewable tablets, sticks, sachets, and oil drops. Plus, they have a long shelf life, making them an attractive ingredient for innovative products in development.
The company’s three HRB probiotics: B. longum BB536, B. breve M-16V, and B. infantis M-63 can be commercially added to infant formula and other food products. These strains have been clinically tested and shown to be effective.
Their flagship HRB strain, B. breve M-16V, which has been used in over 150 neonatal intensive care units across the world, has been shown to support healthy growth in infants. One clinical study of preterm neonates showed the HRB strain could improve gut barrier function and help mucosal immunity development, as well as reduce inflammatory reactions.
“Our HRB strains have various published studies not only on digestive health but also on the immune functions, allergies, and healthy aging,” she says.
Another study of preterm LWB, showed the HRB promoted early gut colonization with Bifidobacterium and reduced the respective infants’ susceptibility to potentially harmful bacteria. Other studies show Morinaga Milk’s HRB probiotics have healthy responses to allergic effects in youth.
Breastfed infants have a gut population that’s dominated by infant-type HRB. Human breast milk contains high levels of human milk oligosachardides (HMOs) which are complex sugars that promote the growth of HRB within the body.
Mothers want the best for their babies. And if they can’t breast-feed, they may want a baby formula with an infant-friendly probiotic like Morinaga Milk’s HRB, a clinically well-researched probiotic strain.
“Baby formula companies are trying their best to make the infant formula closer to breast milk,” says Dr. Wong. “When you actually studied the compositions of the breast milk, you’ll find it contains a lot of different components, as well as its own human milk microbiota. Fortifications of probiotics into infant formula would be one of the ways to actually promote the health of babies.”
The market demand for probiotics is growing as more consumers are becoming health-conscious. Dr. Wong says HRB probiotics are increasing in the industry and as a result driving down the market for non-HRB products.
For more information about how Morinaga HRB probiotics can help companies develop products for health conscious consumers: https://morinagamilk-ingredients.com/