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NATICK, MA/LONDON, UK: Unilever has partnered with gut researchers Holobiome to identify food and drink ingredients that could have a positive impact on mental wellbeing.

According to Unilever many scientists consider the human gut microbiome, where trillions of microbes live, an essential organ producing 70 percent of the body’s immune system and 90 percent of the mood elevating serotonin neurotransmitter.

Using its discovery platform to map the microbiome and its influences, Holobiome has identified key bacteria that appear to communicate to the brain via neurotransmitter signalling in the gut.

The two companies plan to identify specific food ingredients that interact with the bacteria to naturally boost levels of calming neurotransmitters in the gut and so improve mental wellbeing.

In the new Age of COVID “more than 70 percent of consumers are concerned that stress and anxiety are having an impact on their health,” said Unilever EVP R&D Foods & Refreshment Carla Hilhorst. “In turn, consumers are increasingly seeking food and drink products that can have a positive impact on their overall health and mental wellbeing.”

The research will seek ingredients that have a prebiotic potential - food for the beneficial microbes that live in the gut - with the results expected by the end of 2022.

“Everyone knows the saying ‘You are what you eat’. The microbiome is an important part of that relationship, and it appears to impact nearly every aspect of our biology,” explained Holobiome CEO and co-founder Philip Strandwitz. “If we can map this out at an individual ingredient level, there’s an opportunity to make more informed dietary choices and improve health via multiple marketplaces.

“Our platform – powered by our Human Microbiome Atlas, which contains nearly all known members of the gut microbiome – allows us to make this map for specific functions related to the gut-brain-axis,” he added.

Holobiome was founded by research scientists from Boston’s Northeastern University to discover how gut microbes hold the key to improving global health.
 
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