31st July 2023|Blogs

The triple threat: Probiotics and their evolution in heart, cognitive and gut health 

Derived from Latin, the word probiotic means ‘for life’ and its history runs tandem with the evolution of humans. In its most natural form, probiotics, found in wine, cheese and kefir can be traced to 10,000 years ago, long before there was any documented evidence on the health benefits of these microorganisms.1  

But what turned the tide on the incredible power of probiotic bacteria? It starts with scientist Elie Metchnikoff who, in 1905, proposed that the longevity of the Bulgarian population could be put down to the inclusion of lactobacilli during yogurt production and not the product itself, as previously believed.2  

While Metchnikoff is credited with stimulating the idea of developing foodstuffs containing probiotics, modern day probiotics are now formulated to two main criteria.  

The first is the development of probiotics to replenish organisms found naturally in the human body, and secondly, that certain probiotics can restore microbiome health by enabling indigenous beneficial microbes to populate and thrive.4    

One thing is certain. Growth in probiotics will continue as consumers look towards natural products, functional food items and supplements that can offer nutritional support for digestive and gastrointestinal health.5 This is backed by current estimates that the market for probiotics is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.9% to reach 131bn in 2032 from a base of 62.4bn in 2022.6  

As scientists continue to research the benefits of probiotics, they are discovering that probiotics are involved in most of our physiological processes7. From improving our blood lipid profiles and blood pressure to transforming how we approach heart health without the use of pharmaceutical solutions, to investigating how probiotics might help us to better manage our sleep, mood, and anxiety, while aiding in cognitive and brain health in all ages.  

Here we track some of the latest trends in probiotics and probiotic solutions that could impact on the development of future innovations in the sector.  

Cardiovascular health 

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are one of the leading causes of death globally, resulting in an estimated 17.9mn deaths each year according to the World Health Organization (WHO).8 When it comes to cardiovascular health, ProBiotix’ LPLDL® is seen as a breakthrough, next generation probiotic that can reduce cardiovascular risk factors, while supporting overall heart health.  

In randomised, placebo controlled human intervention studies, ProBiotix’ LPLDL has been shown in multiple independent studies to improve overall heart health by reducing cholesterol and improving blood pressure. It is a safe, non-pharmaceutical solution that could transform the way we approach the management of heart health interventions. LPLDL offers a natural, scientifically sound alternative, and unlike statins, has no known side effects.  

It works by ultilising the microbiome-liver axis to positively impact on the gut microbiome, using a naturally occurring strain of the bacterial species, Lactobacillus plantarum, which shows exceptional capacity in modulating the metabolism of bile acids.  

This mechanism of action is important to bacterial survival in the intestine’s challenging environment, and can positively impact on conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. In addition, it targets physiological processes including vitamin metabolism, glucose regulation and liver function.  

LPLDL’s outstanding stability during processing makes it a suitable ingredient for a broad array of finished formulations in consumer and pharmaceutical healthcare. 

Sleep, stress & anxiety 

Growing scientific evidence is pointing to the important relationship between gastrointestinal microbiota, neurobiochemistry and emotional behaviour in humans.  

This is being developed further by research jointly funded by OptiBiotix, ProBiotix and the Italian-based centre of research and innovation, Fondanzione Edmund Mach. The research is taking place at the University of Southampton and the University of Leeds by leading experts in the field. The project, which will include a double-blind, controlled human study, will examine the role that probiotics such as LPLDL can play in effectively managing sleep, stress, and anxiety during stress-induced sleep disruption. While research is ongoing, it does point to the ability of next generation probiotics – such as LPLDL – to positively impact the human microbiome, offering new commercial opportunities for formulations.  

Ageing, brain function & the diet  

With degenerative brain disease on the rise, researchers are also investigating the role of probiotics on the brain function of healthy older adults. There is evidence to support the benefits of including probiotics as part of a healthy diet in older adults to target ageing, which is classified as ‘the progressive decline in biological function.’  

While the interplay between the gut and the brain involves a complex network of endocrinological, immunological, and neural mediators, it is becoming clear that the diet is a critical lifestyle factor for physical and mental wellbeing throughout human life span, including later life. A growing body of evidence suggests that dietary components or nutrients affect various biological functions including brain activity9

According to an article published by Harvard Health Publishing10, there is evidence to suggest that probiotics may help to boost mood and cognitive function. The study focused on the gut-brain axis and the biochemical signaling between the nervous system in the digestive tract (enteric nervous system) and the central nervous system, including the brain. As the information connection between the gut and the brain, the vagus nerve supplies primary information between the two organisms, indicating that the gut, sometimes referred to as the second brain, produces many of the same neurotransmitters including serotonin, dopamine, and gamma aminobutyric acid, which play a key role in regulating the mood.  

The study of probiotics and their impact on human physiology and in microbiome modulation is a vital and progressive science.11 If you require information on our range of product formulations or the science behind our patented strain LPLDL, contact us today to see if we can assist you in exploring new commercial opportunities and solutions.  

1,2. Ozen M, Dinleyici EC, The history of probiotics: the untold story, Beneficial Microbes, 2015. 
doi: 10.3920/BM2014.0103 

3,4. Puebla-Barragan S, et al, Forty-five-year evolution of probiotic therapy, Microbial Cell, 2019. 
doi: 10.15698/mic2019.04.673 
5,7. Narayan SS, et al, Probiotics: current trends in the treatment of diarrhoea, Hong Kong Medical Journal, 2010 Jun;16(3):213-8.  
6. Globenewswire.com, Probiotic Market Size is Expected to Reach USD 131 Bn, March 2023  
8. World Health Organization, Cardiovascular diseases, accessed March 2023  
9. Kim CS, et al, Probiotic Supplementation Improves Cognitive Function and Mood with Changes in Gut Microbiota in Community-Dwelling Older Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Multicenter Trial. Journal Gerontol A Biology Science Medical Sci. 2021  
doi: 10.1093/gerona/glaa090.  

10. Harvard Health, Probiotics may help boost mood and cognitive function, accessed March 2023 
11. Frontiesin.org, Double-Blind and Controlled Trial, accessed March 2023