Tata NQ: A journey towards providing enhanced gut health

Gut health has caught the attention of the scientific world and is now at the centre stage in all health and disease discussions. Extensive research pursued over the past few decades have generated evidence to link the gut microbiome with maintenance of health, including physical & mental health, immune health (1), digestive health, metabolic health, nutrient absorption and energy regulation (2), while microbiome’s composition changes with weight gain or weight loss (3).

A healthy gut is home to trillions of microbes belonging to around 1,000 different species, consisting of 5,000 distinct bacterial strains (4). Ninety per cent of these belong to the Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes (1, 5). Fermicutes are involved in energy resorption, and potentially related to the development of diabetes and obesity (6-8). While a core set of organisms are common to all individuals, every person has a distinct and highly variable composition of gut microbes (5, 9). These are most important to the health of the gastrointestinal system leading to the overall well-being of the individual.

Dedicated to increasing the nutritional quotient in individuals, Tata NQ was inspired by the potential of the gut microbiome modulation to provide wholesome well-being. Intending to enhance life through healthful food and ingredient choices, the company began its focus on the Healthy Gut and its modulation with prebiotic fibre fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) through scientific clinical research and investments in their manufacturing.

The gut microbiota is established in early life, and develops as influenced by diet/supplement intake, age, geographical location, medicines/drugs, as well as environmental influences. To understand the uniqueness of the Indian gut microbiome, Tata NQ undertook two significant studies.

In a cohort of 80 urban subjects from Western India, taxonomic characteristics of the gut microbiota was assessed and the efficacy of Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) on the changes in the human gut microflora was studied. Findings showed that four phyla dominated 95 % of the sequences, and that 80% sequences were assigned to five genera (10). Correlations were drawn between the microbiome profiles and dietary preferences in the study. The intervention of FOS among the study subjects showed that consumption of FOS increased bacterial diversity, while withdrawal led to its reduction. FOS intake also resulted in a statistically significant change in diversity, richness, and evenness of the gut microbiome (10).

Encouraged by these findings, a first India-specific, large-scale (n=1004), observational, multi-centric, cross-geographic and diverse-age-group study was planned (11) to determine the microbiome composition baseline across 14 different Indian geographies and to record variation with respect to obesity, gender and lifestyle. The study showed interesting findings with respect to the uniqueness of the gut microbiome in some geographies, high relative abundance of certain species which may have a possible correlation to certain diseases make intriguing reading and potential impact on future nutritional strategies.

Tata NQs collaborative research with Yale university (12) showed that in germ free mice (colonized with the human gut microbiota), FOS consumption modulates the gut bacteria. The study showed that with FOS intervention, there was an increased relative abundance of the Bifidobacteria and Blautia, while a significant reduction in pathogenic bacteria Sutterela. Moreover, there was an increased production of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), in particular, butyrate. Increased SCFAs and butyrate have been linked to better immunity (13).

Tata NQ has established a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility to produce FOS and GOS, in Mambattu, Andhra Pradesh, India. This manufacturing facility has valid FSS license and has capacities that can supply ample quantities across the world. Our plant is automated and has a fully traceable supply chain. The product FOS has been notified as Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) for use in foods vide GRN 605 to which the US Food and Drug Administration did not have any objections. FOS and GOS are widely used in many types of foods, including infant formulae in both EU and US regulatory jurisdictions.

Tata NQ thus marches towards its long-term mission to improve health through improvement of the nutritional quotient.


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