Sustainable Ingredients

Functional fiber and vitamins: SternGut micronutrient premix to support gut health and immunity
Anni Scleicher
October 29, 2019
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Gut health and immunity are increasingly busy platforms within the food and nutrition industry as research continues to demonstrate how a healthy microbiome is instrumental to good health. Responding to this, SternVitamin, a SternWywiol Gruppe company, has developed “SternGut.” This immune-supporting vitamin and mineral premix is designed to help consumers uphold a healthy immune system as well as maintain performance in stressful situations. The company will be showcasing its micronutrient premix at Food ingredients Europe (FiE) hosted in Paris, France, December 3-5 this year.

SternGut is targeted to support good gut health of people who suffer from both physical and psychological stress, Dr. Christina Mesch, Product Manager at SternVitamin, tells NutritionInsights. This includes working people, students, as well as everyone from professional athletes to “weekend warriors” – professional consumers who can only practice sporting activities on the weekends. As stress can weaken the immune system, especially in the gut, and impacts the gut’s microbiota, these targeted consumers are especially prone to infections.

SternVitamin’s premix aims to increase fiber consumption, which bolsters gut health and strengthens the immune system using various vitamins and nutrients. Vitamins C and E act as antioxidants with selenium needed for antioxidant enzyme systems in its role supporting immune defenses. The addition of vitamin D and beta-glucans from yeast prevent upper respiratory tract infections, while the premix’s zinc helps maintain the balance of the immune system and reduces the risk of infection. Likewise, the premix contains xylooligosaccharides (XOS), which support the growth of beneficial bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli within the digestive tract.

Available in powder form, the SternGut premix can be added to foods and beverages, such as cereals, water, snacks, dairy products, baked goods and confectionery. The premix’s orange smell and taste were chosen as the orange flavor is often commercially associated with immune system boosters. “When you think about products that focus on the immune system, orange is usually the first flavor you have an association with. By using this flavor, the acceptance of our premix has been increased. However, we didn’t want to focus on the flavor too much, but rather emphasize the functionality of the ingredients.”

R&D challenges
Boosting the immune system is the second most important benefit consumers expect from functional foods, beverages and nutritional supplements, the company notes. Therefore, it was imperative to develop a functional food and drink supplement that suited consumers’ specific needs.

Dr. Mesch explains that water solubility and low-sugar content were the two main hurdles to overcome during the development stage. “The SternGut ingredients worked well in terms of water solubility, which was the first aspect that we were very focused on. The second aspect we examined was a low sugar content. When we reduced the sugar content too much, the premix did not taste good at all.”

This, however, does not mean that SternGut is sweet, she maintains. “Now, we are on a level that is not too sweet nor too natural. It is a really good balance.”

Dominating industry trend
Also active in the gut health solutions space, Taiyo will be presenting a line of new dietary additives at FiE, including a functional cola containing Sunfiber.

In response to increasing awareness of gut health, Comet Bio has launched its Arabinoxylan Plant Fiber Extract. The extract provides supplement, food, and beverage manufacturers a functional way to add prebiotic dietary fiber to their products and meet consumer demand around gut health.

Good gut health has become increasingly important to consumers as science-backed studies continue to prove the link between intestine and cognitive health. This means that one-size-fits-all health recommendations no longer address individual digestive health concerns. Rather, the potential for personalized nutrition supplements and technology to support good gut health is prospering within the nutrition industry.