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Postbiotics: A new frontier in immunity-supporting and healthy ageing products

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In recent years, people are living longer and ageing populations are increasing year by year.

By 2030, one in six people globally will be aged 60 years or over. By 2050, the world’s population of people aged 60 years and older will have doubled from 2019 to 2.1 billion. In addition, the number of individuals aged 80 years or older is expected to triple between 2020 and 2050 to reach 426 million.¹

As the world's population continues to age, maintaining good health and wellbeing becomes increasingly important. One crucial aspect of healthy ageing is a strong immune system that can effectively protect against infections and diseases. This article explores the relationship between healthy ageing and immunity, highlighting the importance of immune support for older adults.

The impact of ageing on the immune system

Ageing is often associated with changes in the immune system. These changes can lead to a decline in immune function, making older adults more susceptible to infections and less responsive to vaccines. From the age of about 20, the immune system begins to change gradually in a process known as age-related decline. The resilience built in youth gradually depletes until around 50 years of age, when the risk of infection and more serious outcomes start to become more and more likely.²

The immune system's ability to recognise and eliminate harmful pathogens becomes compromised, increasing the risk of illness and reducing overall wellbeing.³ WHO defines healthy ageing as ‘the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables wellbeing in older age’. Healthy ageing is about creating the environments and opportunities that enable people to be and do what they value throughout their lives. Simply being free of disease or infirmity is not a requirement for healthy ageing.⁴ It is important to maintain our immunity while ageing and make it possible to age healthier.

To promote healthy ageing, it is crucial to support and strengthen the immune system in older adults. By enhancing immune function, older adults can better defend against infections and maintain their overall health. Immunity products that specifically target the needs of older adults have gained significant attention in recent years. Based on FMCG Gurus Immunity Survey, 66.7% people answered that they are interested in food and drink products that promote a healthy immune system.⁵

Postbiotics: A promising approach for immune support

One emerging area of interest in immune support is the use of postbiotics. According to the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP), postbiotics are preparations of inanimate microorganisms and/or their components that confer health benefits on the host.⁶ Postbiotics have been shown to generate various health benefits, including immune modulation, anti-inflammatory properties, and improvement of gut health.


LAC-Shield™: A postbiotic for immune health

LAC-Shield, a postbiotic ingredient selected among thousands of bacterial strains for its superior efficacy on immune enhancement and developed by Morinaga Milk Industry Co., Ltd. has shown promise in supporting immune health in older adults. It is demonstrated to promote the production of interleukin-12 (IL-12), a key activator of innate and adaptive immunity when recognised by antigen-presenting cells in the small intestine.⁷


In addition, because LAC-Shield is a heat-killed bacteria, it can be applied to numerous applications such as food and beveragesand provide endless opportunities. In Japan alone, over 500 companies have incorporated LAC-Shield into more than 1,000 food and beverage products.

Clinically proven efficacy

When sourcing ingredients, it is very important to have access to trustworthy evidence. Since its discovery, LAC-Shield has been studied to prove efficacy related to immune enhancement. Some of the benefits of LAC-Shield have been shown in clinical studies, including:

1. Protect against the common cold

A randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind comparison study, including healthy young adults, reported that LAC-Shield could help prevent the common cold. The study involved 241 healthy women over 18 years old, who were randomly selected to receive either LAC-Shield (10 billion or 30 billion cells) or placebo (dextrin) powder daily for 12 weeks.

A subgroup analysis of individuals susceptible to the common cold in the previous year shows that those who consumed LAC-Shield (10 billion cells/day) had significantly reduced incidences of the common cold, total duration, and severity of symptoms after 12 weeks.⁸

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2. Maintaining physical condition and immunity function

Morinaga Milk published a new study with LAC-Shield which also shows promise for immunity areas. In a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind comparison study involving 200 healthy adults, intake of 50 billion cells of LAC-Shield for 2 weeks significantly reduced the number of days of stuffy nose and cold-like symptoms. In addition, the duration of stuffy nose, sore throat, and cold-like symptoms was significantly lower in the LAC-Shield group, too⁹.

3. Improve influenza vaccine response

The efficacy of vaccinations tends to decrease in elderly populations because of the waning immunity associated with ageing. In a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, intake of LAC-Shield containing jelly improved the responsiveness of vaccinations in the elderly compared with the placebo group. The study involved 45 elderly subjects aged 65 years or older who consumed either a jelly containing 10 billion LAC-Shield cells or a placebo jelly once a day for six weeks from autumn to winter. All participants received the influenza vaccination midway through week three¹.⁰

A subgroup analysis of elderly subjects aged 85 and above showed that those who consumed LAC-Shield had a higher number of blood vaccine antigens and improved antibody responses to the A/H1N1 and B antigens compared to the placebo. As a result, LAC-Shield intake enhanced the immune responsiveness to vaccinations, particularly in populations with reduced immunity.

These clinical findings, and the fact that LAC-Shield is fundamentally selected for immunity, highlight its potential of LAC-Shield as a valuable tool in promoting healthy ageing through immune support.

Maintaining a strong immune system is crucial for healthy ageing. Immune support, particularly through the use of postbiotics like LAC-Shield, can play a significant role in enhancing immune function in older adults. By prioritising immune health and adopting healthy lifestyle practices, older adults can promote their overall wellbeing and enjoy a higher quality of life as they age.


1.​ WHO. Aging and health
2.​ GSK. Age-related decline in immunity: why does it matter and what can be done about it?
3.​ WebMD. How Ageing Affects Your Immune System
4.​ WHO. Healthy ageing and functional ability
5.​ FMCG Gurus. Immunity - April 2024 - Global & Regional
6.​ ISAPP. Behind the publication: Understanding ISAPP’s new scientific consensus definition of postbiotics​.
7.​ Arai, S.; Iwabuchi, N.; Takahashi, S.; et al. (2018). Orally administered heat-killed Lactobacillus paracasei MCC1849 enhances antigen-specific IgA secretion and induces follicular helper T cells in mice.​ PloS one, 13(6), e0199018.
8.​ Maruyama, M.; Abe, R.; Shimono, T.; et al. (2016). The effects of non-viable Lactobacillus on immune function in the elderly: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.​ International journal of food sciences and nutrition, 67(1), 67–73.
9.​ Murata, M.; Kondo, J.; Iwabuchi, N.; et al. (2018). Effects of paraprobiotic Lactobacillus paracasei MCC1849 supplementation on symptoms of the common cold and mood states in healthy adults.​ Beneficial microbes, 9(6), 855–864.
10.​ Sato, S.; Arai, S.; Iwabuchi, N.; et al. (2023). Effects of Heat-Killed Lacticaseibacillus paracasei MCC1849 on the Maintenance of Physical Condition in Healthy Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel-Group Study.​ Nutrients, 15(15), 3450.