Gut health evolution ‘could extend to lungs to reinvigorate demand for probiotics’

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Gut bacteria gut brain axis Gut health

First there was the gut-brain axis. Now the gut-lung axis may be a future trend ripe for innovation opportunities, according to a report.

AI data company Spoonshot said gut health continues to be important for consumers and businesses, with interest growing by 76% and 11% respectively. And while researchers continue to investigate how the gut microbiome impacts gastrointestinal health, they are also finding suggestions a healthy gut can have a positive impact on other organs.

For example, as microbiome science advances at a rapid clip, evidence of a link between the gut and the brain is slowly emerging and interest in the relationship between gut health and overall health in rising.

Other studies now point to a connection between gut health and lung health​. In clinical trials, a combination of five probiotic strains was found to reduce symptoms of viral upper respiratory tract infections by over 27%. This probiotic combination has found to have even greater efficacy among people over the age of 45, particularly those who are obese or overweight.

There is therefore an opportunity for probiotics to offer expanded utility, according to Spoonshot.

The lungs, like many other parts of the body, have their ‘own distinct microbiome but not as diverse or voluminous as the gut’, according to the research, which has pointed to a connection between the gut microbiome and the lungs which is being called the ‘gut-lung axis’. Given the gut’s role in our body’s immune response, a healthy gut could prove vital in fighting off any infection in the lungs as well, predicted Spoonshot.

“Probiotics would not just improve gut health but also could reduce the severity of respiratory illnesses,”​ it said.

“This research could very well reinvigorate demand for probiotics. An analysis of social media conversations found a fairly wide range of health benefits consumers associate with probiotics. While gut health was unsurprisingly the top health benefit, a small share of consumers were already seeing probiotics as helpful in dealing with inflammation, reducing the risk of viral infection and boosting immunity. These issues are closely linked to lung health and could very well appeal to consumers who are at greater risk of suffering respiratory ailments.”

Even before the pandemic, respiratory illness were the leading causes of death and disability the world over. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the third leading cause of death worldwide, according to the Forum of International Respiratory Societies. The gut-lung axis is just one of the many emerging benefits of maintaining a healthy gastrointestinal system, believes the AI firm.

“While it may be too early to use this as a scientifically-backed claim just yet, this is an evolution of the growing interest in gut health. It also just underscores the importance of the food-as-medicine credo that is increasingly gaining popularity among consumers.”

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