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Blood glucose and gut microbes.

BENEO Institute all benefits

Why they matter in immune health and COVID-19.

The COVID-19 has dominated our lives and the news headlines for over 2 years. Because of this, many of us are taking steps to eat more healthily since good nutrition is crucial for supporting a well-functioning immune system.

Did you know that your gut microbes as well as your blood sugar level can beneficially influence your immune system in COVID-19 times? At the BENEO-Institute, we looked at this phenomenon a bit closer. And in this year’s annual conference of the Nutrition Society of Malaysia, I shared some insights. My presentation was titled “Response to COVID-19 and non-communicable diseases: Unlocking nutritional tools for gut microbiota support and low blood glucose profiles”.

Looking to the gut microbes.

What is striking to me was that in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists theorised (ie. not yet proven with clinical studies) that there was a link between our gut microbes and the COVID-19, which is a respiratory illness. Over time, growing evidence showed that this was indeed the case. Of especial mention is a study conducted in patients infected with COVID-19. The results found that these patients had depleted numbers of beneficial gut microbes involved in regulating immune health, such as bifidobacteria. Imbalances in their gut microbiota persisted even after the coronavirus has cleared. The COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, but evidence from the study indicates that the gut is involved in this disease, and seems to be attributed to an impaired immune response in clearing the virus.

Gut microbes and their influence immune health.

Our gut is the centre of our immunity, where most of the immune cells are located. Importantly, the gut contains trillions of microbes, some are beneficial , some neutral, some others are potentially harmful. Research shows that beneficial gut microbes play an important role in regulating and supporting the immune system, defending the body against pathogens and regulating gut health. Imbalances in gut microbiota (i.e. dysbiosis) have been linked to poor immunity and a number of diseases.

Want more good gut microbes? Feed them with their favourite foods.

We all have our favourite foods and this is no different with the beneficial gut microbes. Prebiotics are the favourite and preferred nutrients of beneficial gut microbes. Chicory root fibres (also called inulin, oligofructose) are scientifically-proven prebiotics that selectively promote the growth of good gut microbes, notably Bifidobacteria. Because of the selective shift in more beneficial gut microbes, it leads to numerous health benefits, e.g. better digestive health and well-being, blood glucose management, metabolic health, and importantly, strengthening the body’s inner defence to support immune health.

Getting our blood glucose levels right for immunity – lower is better.

What many people may not realise is that maintaining a lower blood glucose profile supports a well-functioning immune system. Having high blood glucose levels, even if this is for a short time, can impair immune defence. In viral pandemics, we see this very prominently. Data show that those with high blood glucose in diabetes have more severe infections and a higher risk of dying from COVID-19. High blood glucose is very prevalent, not only in Malaysia, but the world over.

Slow-release glycaemic carbohydrates support blood glucose and immunity.

Carbohydrates are important nutrients that our body needs and they directly impact our blood glucose levels. However, not all carbohydrates are the same, i.e. ‘fast’ carbohydrates raise your blood glucose levels quickly, while slow-release carbohydrates do not. One good example is Palatinose™ (isomaltulose), a slow-release carbohydrate. Palatinose™ is low glycaemic and provides a lower and more balanced blood glucose profile – and science consistently demonstrates this.

Improving the nutritional quality of products in the market – let science be your guide.

At the conference of Nutrition Society of Malaysia, the science-based evidence of BENEO’s ingredients resonated most with the audience – and that is the same with me. I like that so many human studies demonstrate how BENEO’s products contribute to good health even beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. By applying them in better-for-us products, consumers (and that’s you and me) can then readily access them. This way, we can achieve a healthier eating pattern, healthier blood glucose levels, healthier gut microbes, and support better immune health.


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