In recent years, the popularity of probiotics market has driven the development of other micro-ecological products, such as prebiotics, synbiotics, metabiotics, etc. However, as for the latter generation, although it is still in the early stage of research and development, relevant products have entered the market. So, how about the effectiveness and reliability of meta-products? What challenges does the industry face?
Today, we pay special attention to the afterlife supplement market, and hope that this article can bring some inspiration and help to the relevant industry and readers.
The remains of probiotics
In the past decade, the use of probiotics supplements has become one of the important means to support intestinal health and immunity, and probiotics products have also brought considerable income to supplement companies. However, these companies are not satisfied with this. They want to make the word "postbiotics" a new fashion.
When microorganisms (such as bacteria and fungi) die, they will split into smaller parts, such as amino acids, cell wall fragments and other lysates, which may be beneficial to people's health. These ingredients beneficial to human health are called "epigenetic elements".
In 2021, the non-profit organization International Association of Probiotics and Prebiotics Science (ISAPP) defined metabiotics as "a preparation of inanimate microorganisms and/or their components that are beneficial to the health of the host." It can be seen that the biggest difference between metabiotics and probiotics is that the probiotics are alive, while the metabiotics are dead.
In short, if prebiotics are the "food" for feeding probiotics, the most important type of metabiotics is the "debris" with health benefits after the death of probiotics.
What is the effectiveness of meta-products?
Because metabiotics are "dead", they may have a longer shelf life than live probiotics, so they may be more widely used in supplements and foods. However, it is still too early to make a final conclusion about whether epigenetic elements can be as beneficial and effective as probiotics, because scientists are still conducting more comprehensive research on this component.
"Because metabiotics contain cell wall substances and metabolites of beneficial bacteria, direct use of metabolites of beneficial bacteria may indeed bring benefits to the human body," said Andrea M. Licega, associate professor of food science at Purdue University in Indiana. However, Licega said that many efficacy reports are only in vitro studies. "More clinical trials are still needed to fully understand whether they can improve human health."
The key to the development of epigenetic supplements is to know at what dose what "remains" of microorganisms will be beneficial to health.
So far, in vitro and animal studies have revealed that different epigenetic components may have different effects, including antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, and protecting the health of the immune system. However, these studies need to be repeated in the human body before specific epigenetic supplementary suggestions can be formulated.
In Europe, some epigenetic supplements that have been tested in humans have been put on the market. For example, Pylopass, composed of inactivated cells of Lactobacillus reuteri, is used to help control ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori. There is also Lacteol Fort, which is made of lifeless lactobacillus acidophilus cells and used to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
These brands have not yet been listed in the United States, but some stores in the United States are currently selling supplements containing butyrate, or a new "three-in-one" product consisting of prebiotics, probiotics and metabiotics.
But butyrate also caused fierce debate. Although ISAPP does not strictly classify butyrate as an epigenetic agent, this does not prevent many supplement companies from selling it as an epigenetic agent - usually as a weight loss supplement.
The scientific evidence of butyrate for weight loss is mixed. Gregor Reid, an emeritus professor at Weston University, said: "If you eat fast food every day, even if you take all the butyrate in the world, you can't lose weight successfully. There is no panacea for losing weight, unless you are changing your lifestyle and diet at the same time."
Some people cannot produce enough butyrate in their intestines, which may lead to weight gain. However, the inability to produce enough butyrate in the intestine may indicate that there is a problem in the digestive system, so it may not be possible to solve this problem simply by taking butyrate supplements.
Reid said: "If you take probiotics, fermented foods and prebiotics, you will gradually form a better intestinal flora in your gut, so you will produce more butyrate and become healthier. If you just take butyrate supplements, it will not cure the problem."
What about the three-in-one composite products? "You must be careful," warned Mary Ellen Sanders, executive scientific officer of ISAPP
Ideally, certain types of epigenetic products will be sold only after the clinical research has determined the health efficacy and correct dose. However, the current market of epigenetic products is not the same.
Reid explained that supplements "do not meet the definition of 'probiotics' or' metabiotics' if they are not tested." ISAPP defines these terms precisely in the hope that the global definition will enable researchers and manufacturers to reach a consensus and help guide consumers to buy products.
The prospect of epigenetic elements is foreseeable, and more research is still needed
A few years ago, when probiotics were still a new type of supplement on the market, it was difficult to know which kind of supplement to buy for a specific health benefit. When the term "probiotics" was defined, this problem was solved.
In 2021, ISAPP released a consensus on the definition and scope of epigenetic elements, which may promote the market of epigenetic elements.
"Epibiotics may have advantages, but we need more information about effects and doses," Reid said. He believes that if a company makes money by claiming that something is a posterity, it should conduct research to prove its effectiveness.
"These companies know how to attract people to buy their products," Reid said
Sanders does not believe that metabiotics will have the same benefits as probiotics. Sanders said: "We can look forward to more high-quality clinical trials to see what impact they have and who will benefit. But should everyone take epigenetic drugs? The current evidence does not support this."
Metabiotics are indeed promising, but a lot of research is still needed to determine which dose of metabiotics is more appropriate for different health problems.
Source: Intestinal industry
Original text: Open the era of post-life: dead bacteria and live bacteria are equally effective?