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PROEUHEALTH - The Food, GI-tract Functionality and Human Health Cluster

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Consumer Platform > CROWNALIFE
Functional foods, gut microflora and healthy ageing

crownalife.jpg (11953 bytes)Let's try an analogy here to explain this. Imagine the bacteria in our intestine are like the flowers in a garden (only a bit smaller; hence the word "microflora"). We have many different varieties of flowers (ie, good bacteria) and of course a few weeds too (ie, bad bacteria). As we get older, it appears that the flowers become fewer and we get a few more weeds. These weeds are involved in producing a range of potentially harmful by-products that can increase our risk of developing colon cancer and other degenerative intestinal diseases. Well, at least that is what we think happens from the very few studies that have been conducted so far. Part of this project is aimed at confirming if this is in fact the case, and if so, how we can prevent this from happening.

One obvious way is to plant more flowers to replace the ones we've lost. This is the probiotic strategy of introducing live "good" bacteria to our intestines, for example lactobacilli and bifidobacteria that are already used in many yoghurts. We can also use fertiliser to encourage our flowers to grow and multiply, and if we design this fertiliser so that the flowers can use it but the weeds can't, then all the better. This is the prebiotic approach, and the prebiotics used are generally special sugars which in the gut can be used preferentially by the good bacteria (these sugars also don't rot your teeth and are low in calories too...bonus!). Obviously if we can both plant new flowers and fertilise them at the same time the results are likely to be even better. There is a synergy between probiotics and prebiotics. Therefore, food products containing both are called synbiotics. In this project, new specialised synbiotics will be designed that are especially effective for elderly people. They will be tested in clinical trails to determine if they can reduce the levels in biomarkers associated with colon cancer risk and other intestinal ailments including intestinal infections.crownalife_logo.jpg (13674 bytes)


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