The company is especially keen to develop the potential for prebiotics in bread, which is “the perfect vessel to deliver daily nourishment in a tasty and affordable format”.
Gut health is an expanding area for Puratos, which is constantly investing in research and collaborating on projects to keep ahead of trends. CEO Pierre Tossut, says the company’s acquisition of THT provides the expertise and synergies to accelerate innovation.
“Through the acquisition of THT, and its probiotics business, Puratos reaffirms its commitment to strongly invest in the scientific knowledge of gut health and the discovery of new powerful ingredients that improve the health and well-being of people everywhere.”
A recent survey, carried out by Purato, found that 72% of consumers acknowledge the importance of microbial balance for general health and wellbeing, which suggests the topic of gut health appeals to a broad audience, beyond digestive issues.
In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has added new dimensions to consumer expectations of health, food, and the catering industry, according to the research authors, R&D Manager Health & Well-Being, Federica Galli, and Puratos Research Manager Metabolomics, Vimac Nolla Ardèvol.
“60% of consumers now turn to food to maintain and reinforce their health and to help them address specific needs such as immune system strength and good mental health. There’s a growing consciousness about the importance of gut health and a well-balanced gut microbiome to provide both physical health and mental well-being.”
A gut-friendly diet is not only rich in total dietary fibre but should also include different types of dietary fibre that encourage gut microbiome diversity, they explain.
Prebiotics are the best-known of these fibres, however bread can also transport postbiotics, which manage digestive discomfort, help the immune system function properly and have anti-inflammatory and antihypertensive effects.
The researchers said: “Quantity and quality go hand in hand. Because not all fibres exert their beneficial effects in the same way, and there’s a difference between how different compounds (prebiotics, postbiotics and probiotics) act.”
Puratos already has an established range of sourdough and malt bread mixes (Puravita) specifically designed for gut health. They are rich in fibre and fortified with protein, vitamins, and minerals to improve their nutritional profile. Many also contain wholegrains (sunflower and seeds), ancient spelt grains or sprouted rye grains.
The company maintains that most consumers recognise the nutritional value of bread made with wholegrain flour and seeds, which deliver beneficial dietary fibres.
The functional properties of wholegrains are well-documented, but studies also attest to the healthy attributes of sourdough bread, say the researchers: “Consumers do not know that a growing number of scientific studies link traditionally made bread (sourdough bread with long fermentation) to improved digestibility and a more balanced gut microbiome composition.”
Belgium probiotics company, THT, was founded by Professor Thonart in 1991 and develops probiotic bacteria strains that have technological and health applications for the food industry. THT manufactures nine active strains; product formats include probiotic powders and ready-to-market probiotics (supplements).