Prebiotics/probiotics are food and nutritional supplements which have many health benefits. One such prebiotic with a clinically proven active ingredient to relieve digestive distress is Preliva┬« a combination of polyphenols produced from the company Goodgut. Preliva┬« nourishes key bacteria not found in probiotic supplements. It thickens the mucus layer, which forms the protective barrier over the cells thereby relieving digestive distress.    

The difficulty faced with Goodgut was the incorporation of prebiotics in foods without the loss of functionality, degradation while manufacturing and passage through the digestive tract. Under these circumstances where functionality and shelf-life are paramount we had to employ alternative methods using different microencapsulation techniques to protect and enhance appropriate release in the colon.

Technology overview

A novel technology combining microencapsulation and freeze-drying with a core comprising of prebiotics and an outer layer with mixed food grade polymers was developed. A droplet generator was used for the production of uniform microspheres. They were later freeze-dried to confer enhanced resistance to mechanical and thermal stresses while preventing the leakage of the prebiotics components. By using these techniques, precise control over particle size, shape and architecture can be used achieve an efficient target delivery. This encapsulation technology could also be used as a delivery mechanism of other bioactives into the digestive system. 

Demonstration set up

Features and specifications

This technology is based on the production of uniform-sized food-grade biodegradable microspheres using a microdroplet generator. Once the microspheres are produced they are loaded onto the freeze-drier. During freeze-drying the microspheres are subsequently dried by solvent sublimation in primary drying and by desorption in secondary drying thereby producing dry powders. 

The mixed polymers microspheres exhibited favorable results with an average size of 480microns and a homogeneous distribution of the prebiotics. The encapsulated microspheres exhibited high encapsulation efficiency of 86% and antioxidant activity of 92% when compared to the control which was 87%. The highest antioxidant activity 72% was observed at a concentration of 2.5mg/mL using this methodology. Finally they also exhibited a desired gradual release of 12% and 14% over a period of three hours both in acidic and neutral media. 

Potential application and customer benefits

Low processing temperature and higher yield makes this technique highly favourable in a number of applications such as beverages, supplements, dairies, bakeries, flavouring agents, functional ingredients, nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals.

Using this method of microencapsulation and freeze-drying, bioactive ingredients and heat-sensitive compounds can be effectively encapsulated since they are less subject to deterioration thereby providing improved product stability, bioavailability and shelf-life. The dried products are also in a convenient powder form hence they can be both readily manipulated and reconstituted. Finally, this method of encapsulation masks taste/odour providing product consistency. For example, fortification of functional ingredients through encapsulation can help treat nutrient deficiency problems. Encapsulation provides the opportunity of combining of probiotics and synbiotics and protecting their passage though the digestive system.

Market trends

Recent growing concerns about healthy, nutritious and convenient foods have driven the need for producing novel functional food and beverages. The market is also driven by the development of food coatings, additive encapsulation, flavour enhancement and delivery and nutraceutical and pharmaceutical applications. 

Companies are increasingly investing in nutritional products, sports beverage and dairy products. The global microencapsulation market is expected to reach USD 19.34 billion by 2025., expanding at a CAGR of 13.6% during the forecast period. The projected increase in the CAGR of food encapsulation is 9.4% during this period.