Managing a healthy gut using acid based products
The main function of the gut is no doubt the uptake of water and nutrients. However, the gut is not only about digestion it is also acting as a defence system. This defence system acts via three main routes. First, the gut immune system produces specialised immune cells which can serve as a protection itself but can also produce antibodies. Secondly, the intestinal wall can serve as a protective barrier against harmful bacteria. Thirdly, the present microflora can protect against bacteria via the competition for nutrients and receptor sites on the gut wall.
Organic acids are known amongst other substances to alter the gut microflora. Organic acids have a specific antimicrobial activity. However, beneficial bacteria numbers seem to be not affected or may even be enhanced. This helps to promote eubiosis in the intestinal microflora in livestock. Even though organic acids have an antimicrobial activity, combating Gram-negative bacteria remains difficult due to their structure. Gram-negative bacteria posses an outer membrane, which provides the bacterial cell with an inherent resistance against antimicrobial substances. This outer membrane can be damaged by so called permeabilising substances. Those substances make the outer membrane of the bacterial cell permeable to antimicrobial substances such as organic acids facilitating their entry into the bacterial cell. Once entering the cell the organic acids can exert their adverse effects on bacterial growth. The acids are exposed to near neutral intracellular pH which leads to the dissociation of the organic acids. While dissociating they liberate anions and protons into the cytoplasm, reducing pH. The attempt of bringing the pH back to a near neutral level consumes energy and can eventually stop the growth of the bacteria and may kill it. Furthermore, anions of organic acids remain trapped inside the bacterial cell and their accumulation becomes toxic to the bacteria as it inhibits metabolic reactions, reduces the synthesis of macromolecules and disrupts internal membranes.
Another substance having strong antimicrobial activity is cinnamaldehyde. Cinnamaldehyde strongly targets the so called FtsZ protein responsible for the proliferation of pathogenic bacteria. Due to the presence of cinnamaldehyde the bacteria are not able to replicate resulting in a reduced bacterial load. Out of research it is known, that cinnamaldehyde targets only pathogenic bacteria while sparing the beneficial bacteria altering the microflora of the gastro-intestinal tract.
However, the combination of organic acids and cinnamaldehyde together with a permeabilising substance (Per4izer®) was hypothesised to be a strong mixture more effectively combating pathogenic bacteria. This was shown in in vitro and in vivo studies. Synergisms were found when combining an acid blend with cinnamaldehyde and also by combining this antimicrobial mixture of organic acids and cinnamaldehyde with the Per4izer®. This resulted in increased performance in livestock production due to enhancing the beneficial microflora and lowering the load of pathogenic bacteria. The product consisting of a blend of organic acids, cinnamaldehyde and the Per4izer® is adding a new natural growth promoter with strong antimicrobial effects to Biomin’s product portfolio and was launched as Biotronic® Top3.