Musings from the Microbiome Movement Human Nutrition Conference

December 9, 2020

The recently concluded Microbiome Movement Human Nutrition Conference of a few weeks ago was part of a flurry of microbiome related activities and events that took place in late October and early November, including the Global Prebiotic Association’s own hosted Global Prebiotic Week, November 1-7.

This focus on the microbiome should come as no surprise to those active within the broad category, as the scientific frontiers are being pressed on all sides not only to understand the relationships, paths, species, strains and metabolites operating within the gut microbiome alone, but also to understand other microbiomes, and axes and implications connecting the gut, brain, CNS and other systems within the body.

The Microbiome Movement online event featured a 3-day program in total—the first day of which was a pre-conference dealing with product, market and positioning before the more technical actual program commenced. I had the opportunity to represent GPA in a few different contexts, and while I was not able to devote the entire 3 days, I spent enough time and got enough value in a few ways.

For the pre-con, the concept of age targeted microbiome products was initially addressed by Ewa Hudson of Lumina Intelligence, and incidentally, at least 3 of the technical presentations over the next days would link emerging science to that market opportunity. There was a robust discussion of where true innovation comes from on the corporate side, with an admission that like in most sectors, the agility and entrepreneurship of small companies was the driver – whether that be in new applications and product formats or in new health conditions being targeted.

Much of the pre-conference sessions dealt with messaging and positioning to advantage with various audiences – a challenge we’ve also dealt with at GPA. One dialogue dealt specifically with opportunities in positioning in foods versus supplements. It was generally agreed that there is more ability to tout and lead with health benefits in the latter, whereas, at least right now, health benefits and detailed science don’t lend well to as a starting point in foods and beverages. ‘Keep it general’ was the lesson. In fact, on that subject, one presenter was quite critical of what she called ‘over-invoking’ the microbiome at every turn, claiming that this overuse would dilute or even destroy clear consumer understanding of just what the microbiome does. On a certain level, how to use which term and to what depth is at the core of any emerging space.: the need for simplicity and consumer-friendly terms, while at the same time not leaving the science untold.  

If we’re not going to use the term ‘microbiome’, just what will we use to describe this platform and environment? Where it netted out, at least for the purposes of the pre-conference sessions, was an acceptance of the dangers of ‘conflating the microbiome with a health effect’.

To the main event

As we moved to the more technical sessions of the main conference, the scope ranged from food policy and diet, all the way to basic, applied and corporate driven science.

On the policy side, the current disconnect between microbiome and policy, and the need to tie them together was made clear, including the challenge of understanding, defining and measuring dysbiosis – especially at population level.

Several corporate programs described current research programs targeting infants, toddlers and children in an effort to better understand early-stage nutrition, deficiencies, gaps and health outcomes. From asthma and immune challenges to autism, the microbiome link is becoming evident and research strategies to map species/strain gaps that can then be addressed by supplementation (pro/pre/syn) are taking shape.

We’re also hearing more and more about the gut brain axis and connection. An interesting presentation on ‘psychobiotics’ delivered by Timothy Dinan of Atlantia Food Clinical Trials dovetailed nicely from an earlier presentation that discussed the ability of modulators like probiotics and prebiotics to directly impact neurotransmitter pathways including production of serotonin, cortisol and the amino acid tryptophan. This discussion evolved to bring into question the broader role of many phytonutrients, often originally mechanistically attributed to act outside the gut per se, whereas emerging science is confirming a gut-mediated role. An example that springs to mind of this is the growing science for the microbiome-mediated effects of curcumin, which were discussed at WholeFoods Magazine and Trust Transparency Center’s Naturally Informed Microbiome event a few weeks ago.

On a personal level, I was obviously most interested in the prebiotic side of microbiome science, and was pleased to see prebiotics such as GOS, HMOs, beta-glucans and polyphenols all discussed for age-related and condition targeted applications.

In a pre-clinical presentation by platform company Prodigest, a novel carrot-based polysaccharide was introduced showing the ongoing emergence of food-based compounds with promise.

Increasingly, a broader understanding of mechanisms is increasing the potential of prebiotics. For example, one presenter discussed the role of GOS in iron absorption. Several of the presentations dealt with comparisons of prebiotic mechanisms as well as outcomes. For instance, in an examination of inflammatory markers, butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) triggered by prebiotic supplementation, was seen to increase several markers, while other SCFAs such as acetate suppressed these same markers. Prebiotics and probiotics were not the only ‘otics’ presented. Not to be dismissed, compelling early stage research on heat-killed probiotics (postbiotics per ISAPP definition) were effective on suppression of aging markers.

The volume of research into and surrounding the microbiome is truly astonishing. Any two or even three-day conference will only scratch the surface of what’s really going on.

For me, watching new connections being established between platform companies, basic and applied researchers, food policy experts and commercial organizations was a glimpse into a not-so-distant future where prebiotics, probiotics and yes, postbiotics are regular contributors to health solutions as foods, beverages, supplements and drugs.


Anthony Reyes
Author: Anthony Reyes

Unlock the Power of Transparency: Schedule a Meeting Now

Ready to Illuminate Your Path?
Partner with Trust Transparency Today.

Get inTouch

Lori Diez

Lori Diez combines compassion and excellence to lead organizations to their next level. A small-town Texas childhood taught her the value of hard work and relationships, which she uses to foster teamwork that brings results that have transformed cultures and programs to their highest potential. Her successful career in pharmaceutical and nutraceutical sales leadership and event hosting has prepared her to deliver results as the COO of TrustTransparency, where she uses her industry knowledge to ensure that the company’s operations run smoothly as they support nutraceutical companies in their mission to help others. Lori’s passion for charity reflects her belief that individuals working together can change the world, no matter how small their contribution to the effort. This year, she looks forward to continuing over a decade of service at the Houston Livestock Show And Rodeo, where she will be the Chairman of the Livestock Committee.

Conference Handouts

Conference Handouts

CoQ10 Statin Associated Myaglia Meta Study Barry Tan 0618 Case Study

CoQ10 Statin Associated Myaglia Meta Study Barry Tan 0618 (1)

Statin Q10 Effect Case Study

Statin Q10 Effect Case Study

Schedule Consultation with Trust Transparency

Glynnda Steinford

Glynnda Steinford, Trust Transparency Consulting’s Director of Customer Relations, brings over four decades of healthcare experience to her vital role in client engagement and relationship building. Her diverse background spans from administering medical groups to impactful stints in pharmaceutical and nutraceutical sales, all underlined by her degree in Healthcare Administration.

At the heart of Glynnda’s work is her talent for nurturing long-term connections, a skill she leverages to enhance client experiences and partnerships within the consultancy. Beyond her professional commitments, she enjoys life’s simple pleasures, whether it’s her love for cats and cooking or her ventures into golf, always prioritizing cherished moments with family and friends. Her personal interests echo the dedication and warmth she extends in her professional network, making her an invaluable asset to the team.

Caiti Dowden

Caiti Dowden stands as a crucial pillar at Trust Transparency Consulting, bringing invaluable insight and expertise to her role as Senior Executive Assistant’ since her start in 2018. With an academic background from Sam Houston University and a career shift from education to the nutraceutical sphere in 2010, Caiti has cultivated a sharp acumen for dissecting industry trends and bolstering strategic decision-making.

Her transition from Data Analyst reflects her growth and deep understanding of the business landscape. Caiti’s commitment goes beyond professional excellence; she thrives on balance, drawing from her rich life outside of work to enhance her organizational contributions. Whether it’s family time, volunteering, or rooting for Houston’s sports teams, she believes in embracing experiences to fuel her professional creativity and insight.

In her current role, Caiti’s dedication to dynamic business analysis and operational support proves her to be an irreplaceable asset to our team, embodying the synergy of personal enrichment and professional success.

Pam Hilpert

Pam Hilpert, Chief of Staff at Trust Transparency Consulting, has been instrumental in the firm since its inception, leveraging her 17 years of accounting experience, including a significant tenure in the nutrition sector. Her collaboration with Scott Steinford spans various successful ventures, emphasizing her integral role in the company’s financial and strategic initiatives.

An alumnus of Sam Houston State University, Pam holds degrees in both Business Administration and Accounting, as well as an MBA, adding academic heft to her practical industry insights. Beyond her professional prowess, Pam is passionate about family, enjoys live music, delves into quilting, and volunteers at her church, reflecting her well-rounded life.

Her multifaceted expertise and longstanding dedication make Pam a cornerstone of Trust Transparency Consulting’s operational strength and team unity.

Scott Steinford

Scott Steinford, a trailblazer in strategic leadership, boasts a certified M&A background, having navigated companies from their genesis to industry prominence. His brainchild, Trust Transparency Consulting, born in 2007, stands as a testament to his dedication to ethical business practices and strategic foresight, offering industry stakeholders invaluable guidance.

Beyond founding and steering companies, Scott has enriched the business landscape with his insightful keynotes and prolific written contributions, emphasizing his commitment to elevating industry standards. His executive tenure shines in roles as CEO or President of for-profits like ZMC-USA and Doctor’s Best, extending to significant contributions in non-profit sectors.

Notably, Scott’s influence is a driving force in the CoQ10 market, where his leadership has significantly bolstered the ingredient’s global presence. His roles in various capacities, including as a New Hope Ambassador, keep the community informed, providing in-depth industry reports and insights.

An active advocate within professional associations and an Editorial Advisor for leading industry publications, Scott’s expertise is both recognized and sought after. With academic roots in Pre-Law and a Master’s in Law, his journey transcends textbooks, embodying real-world business acumen and transformative leadership.

Scott Steinford merges visionary entrepreneurship with principled leadership, creating a legacy of innovation, growth, and unwavering commitment to industry excellence.