Early life nutrition
How we made it: a deep dive into innovating Biotis® Fermentis for the gut-muscle axis
Our protein and prebiotic ingredients lead the way in both efficacy and quality. Discover how Biotis® Fermentis combines cutting-edge science and unparalleled technical expertise to meet an emerging need for better gut health for athletic performance.
Biotis® Fermentis is a first-of-its-kind solution which combines the benefits of whey protein, prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides (Biotis® GOS) and probiotic cultures by fermenting them together. The result is a unique formulation that supports gut health and holistic well-being to boost athletic performance. In this blog, Vicky Davies, Global Marketing Director for Performance, Active & Medical Nutrition, discusses FrieslandCampina Ingredients’ development process for this innovative ingredient and how its unique composition can help brands target the gut-muscle axis.
Q: To start, can you tell me a little about the development of this product – where did the R&D process begin?
A: Everything we do starts with the consumer in mind – and the development of Biotis® Fermentis was no different. In recent years, we’ve seen people turn their attention to ways of supporting overall well-being, as opposed to tacking health areas or issues individually. One interesting effect of this shift is a growing awareness about the gut microbiome – consumers are increasingly savvy about its role in driving overall well-being. In fact, not only do a third of survey respondents say their gut health is important to them
Innova Market Insights, Top Trends, 2022
, over half believe it influences factors like mental wellness
Innova Market Insights, Top Trends, 2022
. So it’s clear that gut health is an area consumers want to prioritise. At the same time, people are turning to exercise for similar reasons – a significant proportion says it works out for mental health reasons
Mintel, Exercise Trends: US, 2021
. So exercise is also an important part of prioritising holistic well-being, alongside gut health.
But the links between gut health and athletic performance don’t stop there. Research shows that intensive exercise, stress and dietary habits can cause gut discomfort – which can seriously affect athletic performance. 86% of athletes suffer from digestive issues associated with stressors such as training and competition
Pugh JN, et al. Gastrointestinal symptoms in elite athletes: time to recognise the problem? Br J Sports Med. 2018 Apr;52(8):487-488. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2017-098376. Epub 2017 Oct 10. PMID: 29018062.
At FrieslandCampina Ingredients, we have an in-depth understanding of athletes’ and active consumers’ needs, as well as unrivalled expertise in protein innovation. So, to us, the market need was clear. Until now, gut health and nutrition for athletic performance have been targeted separately. But things often work better when they work together – and that’s where Biotis® Fermentis originated. It’s a single, synergistic solution to help improve athletes’ gut health and overall well-being to support performance.
Q: Why was fermentation chosen for this ingredient? What advantages does this fermentation bring to the final product?
A: Fermentation has long been well-recognised by people as beneficial for gut health. But in recent years, this has really hit the mainstream – on any given shopping trip, you’re likely to see a range of popular fermented foods and drinks on sale, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha. Our parent company, FrieslandCampina, has 150 years of experience of fermentation through yoghurt and cheesemaking. So, it made sense to leverage this expertise. Biotis® Fermentis combines our in-depth understanding of both proteins and prebiotics with FrieslandCampina’s fermentation knowledge, transforming and enhancing the properties of the individual ingredients to support holistic health.
Q: Leading on from that… Biotis® Fermentis combines protein, prebiotics, and probiotics by fermenting them together. Can you explain how each of these components contributes to overall gut health and why their combination is particularly beneficial for athletic performance?
A: Biotis® Fermentis combines three powerhouses of holistic health: whey protein, prebiotics in the form of our Biotis® GOS, and probiotic cultures. Individually, these ingredients already have powerful health benefits. Our GOS ingredients are the most researched in the world and Biotis® GOS has been shown to influence gut microbiota composition
Krumbeck et al., 2018; Johnstone et al., 2021; Ladirat et al., 2014; Walton et al., 2012; Schoemaker et al. 2022
, producing beneficial effects on gut health
Krumbeck et al., 2018; Schoemaker et al. 2022; Sairanen et al., 2007
and mental well-being
Johnstone et al., 2021
. The gut health benefits of probiotics are well-known, and we were already combining these with GOS through a partnership with Lallemand Health Solutions to create synbiotic solutions. And of course, whey protein is widely recognised for its muscle-supporting capabilities and is the gold standard in sports nutrition.
Now, emerging science is highlighting that some of these health areas are more closely linked than previously thought. Research suggests the existence of a ‘gut-muscle axis’ – a link between our gut microbiota, muscle function, body composition and athletic performance
Przewłócka, K. et al. Gut-Muscle Axis Exists and May Affect Skeletal Muscle Adaptation to Training. Nutrients.12(5):1451, doi:10.3390/nu12051451 (2020).
. By fermenting these beneficial ingredients together, Biotis® Fermentis enables us to effectively target the gut muscle axis. What’s more, thanks to the presence of GOS and other bio-actives within the ingredient, initial studies show that Biotis® Fermentis can provide holistic health benefits that can help boost well-being and impact sports performance – but more information to come on this soon!
Q: A gut-muscle axis, that’s interesting! Can you provide some insights into the research that supports the effectiveness of Biotis® Fermentis?
A: Absolutely! So, we of course have existing science which substantiates this known link between gut health, overall well-being, and muscle health via the gut-muscle axis, which served as the basis for our research. To investigate this further and explore the benefits of Biotis® Fermentis, FrieslandCampina Ingredients undertook an extensive consumer study. In this study, we asked 150 recreational athletes between 20-50 years of age to take Biotis® Fermentis daily. Participants then undertook a survey to record any noted health improvements. The results showed that 60% reported significantly reduced bloating after three weeks, and 80% reported improved satisfaction with their physical well-being, including feeling significantly more active, energetic and vital. Additionally, there was a trend towards participants describing feeling less worried, more balanced and satisfied at the end of the study
FrieslandCampina Ingredients, internal consumer research in collaboration with MMR Research
. We have also conducted a clinical study with Biotis® Fermentis – the results so far have been promising and we will be sharing the outcomes of this study very soon!
Q: So, how can consumers access the benefits of Biotis® Fermentis – what formats can it be used in and how easy is it for brands to formulate with?
A: We have extensive formulation expertise which brands can benefit from to create product applications that appeal to consumers. Biotis® GOS, for example, offers significant formulation flexibility. It has a mild taste and is both heat and acid stable, meaning it can be used in a wide variety of supplements and functional food or drinks. We also have decades of experience in protein innovation and are able to help brands balance excellent sensory qualities with nutritional benefits – so end products don’t leave consumers with any unappealing off-notes. Biotis® Fermentis is a product of this expertise – the ingredient has a clean sensory profile with a mild acidic taste, meaning it can be used with a range of formats and flavours.
To help inspire product development, we’ve launched two application concepts – a powder pouch and an on-the-go sachet. These have been especially designed to be easy to include in active lifestyles and to tap into active consumers’ and athletes’ need for convenience. The pouch can be added to a daily shake or taken with breakfast – both formats which are popular with athletes and regular gym-goers. And the sachet is a perfectly dosed solution which can be effortlessly consumed while out-and-about or training. It can also be taken on its own or added to other protein supplements – so it’s really flexible! Looking forward, we’re also exploring bars and RTD applications… so watch this space!
Q: Finally, what’s next for Biotis® Fermentis and the Biotis® brand?
A: We’re always working with partners to conduct new scientific research, so people can expect to hear more about the health benefits of Biotis® Fermentis in the future. We’re also collaborating with customers to help them develop and bring to market holistic solutions aimed at athletes and active consumers. Plus, there’s exciting innovations for holistic health in our Biotis® pipeline – more news to come on that soon too!
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