Surely there must be a gut-friendly food that can help reduce the risk of asthma and allergies.
So suggests the current issue of Fortune Magazine, its Food Issue, which has an article entitled A Food Revolutionin Your Gut? Feeding the Microbiome. (The actual article only seems to be in the print magazine; this related version is online.)
The article focuses heavily on Danone, the European food company big into yogurt (Dannon being its U.S. brand). Fortune said Danone currently has some 100 clinical trials and (is) collaborating with more than 40 academic or commercial partners in the area now referred to as microbiota research.
Because gut bacteria are so complex, says the article, the industry is focusing on the baby gut. Infants pick up their first microbes in the birth canal, and in early life mothers milk is like a microbiome starter kitrich with the complex fibers that feed those microbes. Research suggests that these early-acquired bugs are critical for healthy development: Babies born preterm or via Cesarean section, and who are in general exposed to antibiotics early on, have been found to be at higher risk for health problems like asthma, allergies, and obesity later in life. A product that could reduce that risk would be a powerful force in the $50 billion global formula market.
Fortune should have been more preciseit should have said, A proprietary product that could reduce that risk As we know, there is already a natural product out there that has been shown in large-scale European research to protect against asthma and allergies in children.
But raw milk has little value to a corporation like Danone because it cant control the supply, and the pricing, of the product, since theres nothing proprietary about a product thats been used for 5,000 years to help people stay healthy.
Fortune reports that Danone has moved ahead with a formula laden with synbioticsa mix of prebiotic fiber and probiotic bacteria, in Thailand, Australia, and New Zealand, and soon to other parts of the world. The product hasnt been used long enough for Danone to have data on whether it helps protect against asthma and allergies, though it has been moving aggressively to make the connection.
Based on what the researchers in the Gabriela project discovered, Danone may be way off basethey concluded that it likely wasnt the prebiotics or probiotics in raw milk that conferred protection, but rather a whey protein that is damaged by the heat of pasteurization. I doubt such a technicality would prevent Danone from trumpeting all kinds of health benefits from its new infant formula.
Danone isnt the only corporation hot on food products to strengthen the gut, according to Fortune. General Mills has an institute engaged in microbiome research (and) has filed a patent for a fiber mix that ameliorates inflammatory bowel disease, says Fortune. DuPont and Monsanto are feverishly studying the micro biomes of soil and plants in hopes of increasing agricultural yields .
Funny, I thought we had some old-fashioned tools for doing all those thingsmore commonly known as fermented foods.