Vitafoods Asia 2023

Sports and gut health: Fermented whey protein, synbiotic blend could help tackle widespread problems

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

A consumer study by Friesland Campina found that recreational athletes and active consumers with self-reported gut complaints saw reduced bloating after supplementing 15g of Biotis Fermentis daily for three weeks. © Getty Images
A consumer study by Friesland Campina found that recreational athletes and active consumers with self-reported gut complaints saw reduced bloating after supplementing 15g of Biotis Fermentis daily for three weeks. © Getty Images

Related tags Friesland Campina Dairy Whey protein synbiotics

There is a widespread, unmet demand for products to support gut health among athletes and active lifestyle consumers, with almost nine out of 10 sports people suffering from gut problems.

That’s according to the functional ingredients arm of FrieslandCampina, and the firm has launched a fermented whey protein and symbiotic blend designed to support gut health among athletes even as they take part in sports. 

Unlike the usual muscle building and recovery products, the firm is seeing an unmet demand for gut health support among sportspeople, says Vicky Davies, global segment marketing manager for Performance and Active Nutrition, FrieslandCampina Ingredients.

“Eight-six per cent of sports people suffer from gut health issues because of the stress that they put on their bodies and what they are eating…That was a big [nutrition] need that we have seen,” ​Davies told NutraIngredients-Asia, ​citing statistics from a 2018 study published in British Journal of Sports Medicine.

“Clinical research of Biotis Fermentis has shown significant improvements in gut, muscle health, and in energy levels as well,” ​she said.

Known as Biotis Fermentis, the blend is made by fermenting whey protein, Friesland Campina’s prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides Biotis GOS, and probiotic cultures together. It made its Asia debut at Vitafoods Asia held in Bangkok.

A consumer study involving recreational athletes and active consumers with self-reported gut complaints found that supplementing 15g of Biotis Fermentis daily for three weeks could reduce bloating.

The study involving 150 recreational athletes between 20 and 50 years old, where they took in Biotis Fermentis as a powder supplement mixed with water two hours after exercise or before bed on non-exercise days.

Six in 10 reported significantly reduced bloating by the end of the consumer study and 80 per cent said they experienced improved energy levels. The study concluded that the blend could support gastrointestinal comfort, normal energy levels, and the gut-muscle axis.

A clinical trial was also conducted with Arizona University, with findings expected to be released to the public next January.

According to Davies, the blend could be made into ready-to-drink beverages, powder pouch, sachets, and bars, so as to serve the needs of consumers who are on the go.

“Active and sports nutrition, that’s where the biggest need for Biotis Fermentis is,” ​she said, describing this as a ‘one-of-a-kind’ innovation that takes care of gut discomfort stemming from sporting activities.

TGA approval

Also, the company has received exclusive distribution rights from Australia’s regulator Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to supply its high purity GOS for use in dietary supplements until May 2025.

The ingredient, known as Biotis GOS-OP High Purity has a GOS content of over 90 per cent. As such, it could be used at as low as two grams for it to be effective.

The firm’s research has shown that for GOS to show a positive effect, a dose of 3.6 grams is needed. However, with the high purity version, similar effects could be seen at lower doses of between 1.5 to two grams, said Davies.

A lower dose means that the high purity GOS could be applied to small powder sticks, capsules, tablets, and gummies.

In addition, the prebiotic could be used as a point of differentiation for dietary supplements, said Job van Rozendaal, managing director of Asia-Pacific, FrieslandCampina Ingredients.

“While there are a lot of probiotics in the market, prebiotics category is growing at the moment and so it gives an opportunity for brand owners to differentiate their products by combining prebiotics with probiotics to synbiotics,”​ he said, adding that GOS’ applications were diverse – ranging from infant nutrition to adult nutrition.

With its high purity GOS, the firm plans to target the dietary supplement sector, especially in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea where there is a higher awareness of GOS.

While the benefits for GOS are established in improving the gut microbiota and reducing bloating, there are also potential for use in cognitive, mood, and sleep, but more investigation would be needed, said Davies.

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