Why Vita Biosa?
By Cliff Harvey PhD, DipFit, DipNat
Vita Biosa is a complete, living, active ecosystem of health-promoting herbs, cellular fuels, organic acids, and a range of the most beneficial bacteria for the gut and overall health.
Why is Gut Health Important?
The gut is the gateway to the body. It allows us to take in nutrients from food while keeping out pathogens and harmful chemicals that can cause disease and ill-health, and the impact of gut health on immunity, inflammation, brain, and overall health is now becoming very well known.
The balance of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ microbes in the gut (known as dysbiosis) can affect nourishment and growth and contribute to health conditions ranging from metabolic states like obesity and type 2 diabetes,1 gut issues,2 inflammatory conditions,3-7 cardiovascular disease, and mental health challenges.8-17 The gut microbiome also affects (and is affected by) hunger, satiety, inflammation and immunity, and this also affects our likelihood of developing diseases of the metabolic spectrum.1, 3, 18, 19 The gut microbiome also has an interplay with sleep and stress, co-factors for the development of diabetes, obesity, mental health challenges, and other health conditions. [a]
What are ‘Synbiotics’?
Synbiotics are foods or supplements that combine probiotics and prebiotics (and sometimes post-biotics). The term derives from the synergy of these components, i.e., synergistic biotics. In common usage, the term synbiotic refers to products that include isolated probiotics in combination with prebiotics and to ‘live’ foods and beverages (such as Vita Biosa) that contain pre-, pro-, and postbiotics in an ‘ecosystem’ in which there is fuel substrate (prebiotics) for live organisms (probiotics) which in turn produce organic acids and short-chain fatty acids that are beneficial to the health of the microbiome and the host subject (post-biotics).
What is the microbiome?
Before looking into what the various biotics are, it is important to understand common terms like microbiome and microbiota.
The microbiome is the community of microbes found in the body. Technically, the microbiome refers to collective genomes of these microbes with microbiota used to describe the communities of microbes, but these terms are often used interchangeably. In common usage, microbiome refers to the community of bacteria in the gut, but it also includes other microbes like fungi, protozoa, and viruses (there is also distinct microbiota of the skin, oral cavity, and other surfaces).
[a] More information on gut health can be found at https://cliffharvey.com/?s=gut+health
The various 'biotics'
What are prebiotics?
Prebiotics feed (beneficial) microbes in the gut. Usually, these are various sugars, fibres and resistant starches that feed particular varieties of bacteria (or in some cases beneficial yeasts).
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are microbes (usually bacteria but also some yeasts) that can be taken in supplemental form and are purported to improve the balance of the microbiome.
What are postbiotics?
Postbiotics are chemicals produced by bacteria (like probiotic bacteria) that have additional benefits to the gut and overall health. They are also known as organic acids and include short-chain fatty acids which feed cells of the digestive wall, other bacteria, and can be absorbed by the body for use as fuel (i.e., acetic acid, butyric acid, and lactic acid). These and other chemicals produced by bacteria in the gut also act as messengers that provide a ‘metabolic interaction’ between the host (you) and the microbiota and digestive environment.20
Short-chain fatty acids
Fatty acids are made up of chains of carbon. Short-chain fatty acids have carbon chains between two and five in length. These fatty acids include acetic acid (C:2), propionic acid (C:3), butyric acid (C:4), and valeric acid (C:5). Short-chain fatty acids, especially butyric acid, are used extensively as fuel by cells of the intestinal wall.21 Those that aren’t used directly by the gut (or bacteria in the gut) escape the usual digestion route of other fats and are instead transported directly to the liver where they can be easily converted to ketone bodies,22-27 which function as a source of fuel for most tissue in the body.
Lactic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid produced by metabolism on lactic acid bacteria and during high intensity activities within the body. While much of the research relating to lactic acid is associated with lactic-acid-producing bacteria and summarised in the rest of this article, lactic acid itself is known to be an important part of the human energy cycle, being converted into pyruvate (and used in the Krebs cycle) and converted to glucose. Lactic acid itself is used as an important fuel in the brain and nervous system34-36 and might be an important compound supporting brain development,37 and also serves as an important fuel for heart and liver tissue.
Acetic acid is a two-carbon short-chain fatty acid. It makes up around 4-20% of vinegar (and is found plentifully in Vita Biosa). It has been demonstrated to improve blood sugar and insulin regulation after meals.28-30
Butyric acid (butyrate) is a four-carbon, short-chain fatty acid found in the milk of ruminants and is present in small amounts in many dairy foods (the term butyrate comes from the same root as ‘butter’). Butyrate in humans is primarily produced by microbial intestinal fermentation of dietary fibre and resistant starches. Much of this is absorbed and used directly by colonocytes, with most of the remainder absorbed into the hepatic portal vein, and transported to the liver and converted into ketone bodies.26, 27 A small amount is absorbed directly from the large colon and enters systemic circulation, to be used directly by peripheral tissue.26
Butyrate inhibits inflammation and intestinal cancers, decreases oxidative stress, and promotes satiety.31, 32 Thus, it serves an important role in preserving the health of the colon, microbiota, and general and systemic health.
Vita Biosa contains organic acids, including lactic acid, acetic acid, and lesser amounts of butyric acid.
General Health Effects of Synbiotics
Synbiotics significantly increase gut levels of beneficial Bifidobacteria,34 and reduces inflammation,35-39 with even more pronounced anti-inflammatory effects in inflammatory bowel diseases, arthritis, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.35 Synbiotic supplementation may also increase the total antioxidant capacity of the body,37, 38 and has been clearly demonstrated to increase one of the body’s most important antioxidants; glutathione.37, 38, 40 Supplementation also significantly reduces levels of gut-derived endotoxins41 which are implicated in cardiovascular and other diseases.
Synbiotic supplementation might also help to maintain healthy body weight and cardiovascular system, with studies showing that supplementation can help to reduce body mass,42 blood glucose,43 cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL-cholesterol, and increase HDL-cholesterol (compared to a placebo).44 These effects are most pronounced when synbiotics are supplemented for more than 8 weeks.44
Synbiotics might also have a role in reducing the negative effects of a ‘leaky gut’. While the gut wall is supposed to be permeable (for example, to allow for the uptake of nutrients) excessive intestinal permeability (a ‘leaky’ gut) can promote immune issues, allergies, and inflammation. Intestinal permeability is influenced by diet and lifestyle factors such as gluten and dysbiosis.45 Synbiotic supplementation reduces the key signal for a leaky gut (zonulin),46 and so, might play a role in reducing excessive intestinal permeability.
Reviews of the research show that synbiotic supplementation has a range of benefits including:
• Reduced complications of surgery and hospitalisation47-58
• Improved blood lipids and blood sugar regulation, and reduced inflammation in prediabetes, diabetes, and metabolic syndromes59-67
• Improved antioxidant capacity and glutathione in diabetes67
• Improved insulin and blood lipids in people with obesity68
• Reduced BMI, body weight, and waist circumference in people with obesity69-72
• Improved blood pressure73
• Reduced incidence of respiratory infections74, 75
• Reduced asthma risk76
• Possible cancer-protective effects77
• Reductions in pregnancy-related anxiety78 S
• Improved insulin homeostasis in pregnant women79
• Reduced risk of hyperbilirubinemia in the new-born, and improved birth weight80
• Improved irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms81
• Improved markers of health in people with kidney disease54, 82
• Possible improvements in behavioural symptoms of autism spectrum disorder83
• Reduced inflammation and improved insulin homeostasis in people with autoimmune conditions84
• Improved rates of remission, reduced inflammation, and reduced disease activity in inflammatory bowel disease like ulcerative colitis85, 86
• Improved hormone profiles and insulin sensitivity and homeostasis in polycystic ovary disease87-90
• Reduced duration of diarrhoea,91, 92 hospitalisations,91 and hospital stay-length92 in severe cases of diarrhoea in children
• Early studies in elderly people with cognitive decline suggest that pro- and synbiotics might improve cognition93
• A meta-analysis of 6 randomised controlled trials found significant reductions in the clinical severity of atopic eczema in children when mixed bacteria were used and by children over 1 year of age94
Vita Biosa contains strains of bacteria demonstrated to be beneficial for human health: Bifidobacterium lactis, Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus salivarius, Lactococcus lactis, Streptococcus thermophilus
Health Effects of Herbs Contained in Vita Biosa
The herbal blend in Vita Biosa acts in synergy with the pre-, pro-, and postbiotics.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) has traditionally been used to aid kidney problems, earache, menstrual irregularities, arthritis, anorexia, treatment of fevers, colds, and malaria. Pharmacological evidence suggests potential roles for basil as an anti-cancer, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, anti-diabetic, antipyretic, anti-arthritic, and antioxidant herb.96, 97
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is widely purported to be antidiabetic, anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, hypocholesterolaemic, antioxidant, and immunomodulating.98, 99 Fenugreek supplementation significantly improves blood sugar and lipids,100-102 and there is also evidence that it might help to improve neurological disorders.103 Many of its benefits are thought to be due to the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and tumour suppressing activities of fenugreek compounds.104
Juniper berries come from Juniper trees, particularly Juniperus communis. Oils from Juniper berries have antimicrobial (especially anti-fungal) actions.166 in larger amounts, Juniper berries have been used traditionally as a form of birth control and might also result in miscarriage and affect blood pressure, however, in smaller amounts found in foods and beverages as a flavour or additive, it is generally recognised as safe (according to unreferenced information on WebMD).
Note: in Vita Biosa the volumes of Juniper berry extracts are well within the safe limits
Dill (Anethum graveolens) is a common culinary herb used throughout Eurasia. Reviews suggest the dill can promote significant improvements in insulin sensitivity and blood lipids.105, 106
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a herb traditionally used to help treat female hormonal issues, including those related to menstrual irregularities and pain. Reviews of the evidence show that fennel might be as effective as pain medication for reducing menstrual pain107 and can help to treat other menstrual symptoms.108
Elder (Sambucus spp.) have been traditionally used to help prevent colds and respiratory infections. While elderberry may not reduce the risk of developing the common cold, it may reduce the duration, severity and adverse events arising from colds and influenza.109
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is one of the most studied medicines in the herbal materia medica. It has a long history of use in traditional medicine for pain and diabetes treatment,110 and It has been demonstrated to possess anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-tumour, anti-ulcer,111 and anti-ageing effects.112 Comprehensive reviews of the effects of ginger on human health show that improvements in nausea and vomiting, inflammation, body weight and blood sugar and insulin control in metabolic syndromes, digestive function, and colorectal cancer markers were consistently supported by the research.110, 113-116 Also generally supported by the research is the traditional use of ginger for pain reduction with the weight of evidence suggesting that ginger improves delayed onset muscle soreness, osteoarthritic pain, migraine, and menstrual pain.117
Ginger also reduces inflammation,118-122 and increases glutathione and the body’s total antioxidant capacity,118, 120 and is purported to help protect against environmental challenges to health such as heavy metals, pesticides, pollutants, and radio- and chemotherapy.123 Studies also suggest that ginger can improve blood pressure.124
Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is a common culinary herb traditionally also used as an anti-microbial. It contains several compounds (esp. thymol and carvacrol) which have demonstrated microbial activity against disease-causing bacteria and yeasts.132, 133
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) plant is a member of the mint family commonly used as a culinary and medicinal herb. Several chemicals from thyme such as carvacrol and thymol have been well-studied and have been identified as antioxidant, anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory substances that could help to support the health of the brain, liver, and kidneys.149, 150
Peppermint (Mentha × piperita) has been traditionally used to treat fever, colds, digestive issues, mouth and throat infections, and as an antimicrobial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory herb.134 Various effects are suggested by emerging evidence including application as an antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antidiabetic.134 The primary use for peppermint though is due to its tonic effects on the muscular and digestive systems. For example, in treating muscle spasms and irritable bowel syndrome,135 and reducing spasticity of the colon (i.e., during colon surgery136).
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) has a long tradition of use in the treatment of urinary tract disorders. Studies demonstrate that parsley may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and might also aid blood sugar and lipid control.137
Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) is traditionally used as a calming herb and for sleep promotion. It has also been used to aid recovery from respiratory tract infections. It is known to have antibacterial and antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.138
Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus) is a common culinary and medicinal herb. Several studies have reported that rosemary extracts might help support brain health and protect against cancer and fungal, viral, and bacterial pathogens.139-142 Studies suggest that rosemary can also help to improve cognition and alertness.143, 144
Sage (Salvia officinalis) has a long history of use as an aid to mental acuity, alertness, and memory. Modern research is beginning to show that sage might be a useful aid to the brain and overall health by reducing damage to the brain, encouraging the formation of new neurons, reducing inflammation, and improving functional outcomes like depression and anxiety, while also improving cognition.145 Randomised controlled trials have demonstrated improvements in mood and cognition (memory and attention) from both acute and chronic use of sage.145 A 2019 review has also highlighted promising effects on cardiovascular health with studies to date showing improvements in blood lipids.146
Nettle (Urtica dioica) has been used in various traditional systems of medicines since ancient times for joint pain, arthritis, prostate problems and as a general health tonic (and especially for blood sugar regulation). Its roots and leaves contain a wide variety of constituents with blood-sugar and lipid regulating, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-cancer and antiviral activities.147 A review of trials up to 2019 found a significant reduction in fasting blood glucose among those using nettle compared to controls.148
Angelica spp. have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.125 Emerging evidence suggests that the herb might offer cognitive (i.e., memory and attention) and brain health benefits.126
Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) root has traditionally been used as a nervine tonic to help combat fatigue and treat lung diseases, arthritis, kidney diseases, eczema, heart diseases, gastric ulcer, low blood pressure, allergies, liver toxicity, and certain microbial infections.127 Compounds from liquorice have a range of antimicrobial and antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antidiabetic, anti-cancer, anti-depressive, and neuroprotective activities.128, 129 A 2018 review of the available evidence also found that liquorice use is associated with reduced body weight and BMI.130 Liquorice might also help to improve markers of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease also reduced by probiotics,131 suggesting a plausible synergistic role for liquorice in a synbiotic supplement.
Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) or French Parsley is a culinary herb that has been used in traditional folk medicine as a digestive aid, mild stimulant, and to support blood pressure.165
Anise (Pimpinella anisum) is traditionally used to calm the gut and reduce flatulence. Modern research has demonstrated the antifungal and antioxidant properties of anise.95
Want to learn more about the benefits of Synbiotics?
Check out the article below:
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