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Gut reaction: webinar to explore prebiotic benefits of elderberries

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Gut reaction: webinar to explore prebiotic benefits of elderberries

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Extract of black elderberries can play a pivotal role in promoting good gut health, a new study shows.1​ IPRONA, which produces premium elderberry extract ElderCraft®​, will host a webinar on 22 November to explore the research. What will attendees learn?​    

We are what we eat. So too are the 100 trillion or so microbial cells that live in the human gut. Feed them well and they have a wide-reaching effect on human physiology, benefitting everything from brain function and metabolism to the immune system and skin.2​ Feed them poorly and the converse is true.

Unhappy guts create unhealthy people. Gut microbiome dysbiosis – an imbalance in the gut microbiota or changes in their functional composition, metabolic activities or distribution – has been linked to a wide range of metabolic, respiratory, cardiovascular, psychiatric and dermatological conditions including cancer, type-2 diabetes, asthma and psoriasis.3

The study of prebiotics – substrates used by gut micro-organisms to confer health benefits – is shedding new light on the importance of having a resilient, diverse and healthy gut microbiota.4​ Much of this research has centered on a class of carbohydrate known as oligosaccharides, chains of three to 10 simple sugar molecules found in an array of foods.

Prebiotic sales boom

Evidence suggests that fructo, galacto and xylo-oligosaccharides from fruit, vegetables, honey and certain fermented foods (as well as human milk oligosaccharides from breast milk) are able to selectively feed certain gut bacteria. In doing so, they help to build a stronger immune system, improve overall gut health and reduce appetite.

As our understanding of these compounds grows, prebiotics sales are booming in the US. Nearly three in five US adults try to eat foods that promote a healthy gut.5​ Sales of products with gastrointestinal benefits surged by 5.7% to $1.1bn in 2021 and are expected to have accrued a further $711m by the end of 2025. That’s compound annual growth of 4.8%.6

Unlocking the power of black elderberries

New research is now unearthing the prebiotic benefits of polyphenols, a wide class of organic compound that’s particularly abundant in red berries. One recent study has re-affirmed the superfood status of a tiny, polyphenol-rich berry that can be found growing wild in hedgerows and under cultivation across Europe: the black elderberry (Sambucus nigra​).7

IPRONA has unlocked the power of the tart fruit of Sambucas nigra ​by developing premium standardized prebiotic ingredient, ElderCraft®​. The company extracts polyphenols, anthocyanins and polysaccharides from around 8,000 tons of Austrian black elderberries a year to produce ElderCraft®​ – the ingredient tested in the aforementioned study.

Feeding bacterial diversity

The study found a profound increase in bacterial diversity in subjects treated with 300 mg of ElderCraft®​ twice a day during a three week-period. The study identified a sharp increase in diversity at the beginning of the intervention period and again at the start of a three-week ‘washout’ phase.

This suggests that the gut microbiome was able to quickly adjust to the intervention. 16S sequencing of the microbial community identified a significant overall increase in alpha and beta bacterial diversity. The genus Bacteroides​ in general were increased, with a significant rise in the abundance of Bacteroides cellulosyticus​, bacterial cells associated with plant fiber intake. And, in line with observations from previous studies, no adverse effects were identified.

Akkermansia muciniphila​: a foundation of gut barrier health

Things get even more interesting when you dig into the nitty gritty of ElderCraft’s influence on the gut microbiome. Increases in the abundance of two specific bacterial species as a result of the treatment were particularly exciting: Suterella​, which plays a key role in glucose metabolism and the immune system, and Akkermansia muciniphila​.

The latter is particularly significant. Akkermansia m. ​helps form the foundations of a functional gut barrier, the mucus layer that protects the body’s cells from harmful pathogens inside the gut. An increase in Akkermansia ​can lead to a thickening of this layer and reduce the risk of systematic inflammation as the immune response kicks in. 

Realizing the commercial benefits of elderberries

With awareness of the importance of maintaining a healthy gut growing and consumers increasingly concerned about maintaining the immune system in the wake of the pandemic, elderberry extract supplements are presenting a clear commercial opportunity for manufacturers and retailers.

Indeed, elderberry extracts are already in strong growth in the US, where they are mostly positioned on their ability to support the immune system. With this new body of evidence shedding light on elderberries’ gut health boosting properties as well, growth in sales of supplements containing elderberry extracts looks set to continue.

Get involved: IPRONA Webinar

When: ​22 November 2022 at 9:00am (CST)

What: ​Join IPRONA Scientific Director for Health & Nutrition Ingredients Dr Stephan Plattner for a 30-minute presentation on the latest research into the prebiotic effects of polyphenol-rich elderberry extract. The webinar will cover:

  • An overview of prebiotic classes and prebiotic supplement market insights
  • The prebiotic effects of polyphenols and their effect on the intestinal microbiome
  • Insights into a new human clinical trial showing the prebiotic benefits of black elderberry polyphenols
  • How to formulate polyphenols in prebiotic supplements
  • Challenges and opportunities in developing synbiotics with polyphenols

Where: ​Register your attendance here​.


1.​ Moschen et al. Short- and Long-Term Effects of a Prebiotic Intervention with Polyphenols Extracted from European Black Elderberry—Sustained Expansion of Akkermansia spp.
2.​ Spector at al. Role of the gut microbiota in nutrition and health BMJ 2018;361:k2179.
3.​ Gebrayel et al. Journal of Tansitional Medicine (2022) 20:111​.
4.​ International Scientific Association for Porobiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP).
5.​ Mintel. January 2022​.
6.​ Nutrition Business Journal.
7.​ Moschen et al. Short- and Long-Term Effects of a Prebiotic Intervention with Polyphenols Extracted from European Black Elderberry—Sustained Expansion of Akkermansia spp.

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