Researchers from the Federation University in Australia were the first to study the effects on the digestion behaviour of co-microencapsules, consisting of two different bioactive ingredients such as omega-3 oil and probiotic bacteria; which was published in Food Chemistry.
The co-microencapsulation of probiotic bacteria with omega-3 rich tuna oil boosted its survival and intestinal adhering ability, and it also helped in maintaining a higher proportion of omega-3 acids in the digestive system. Microencapsulation is the process whereby particles are surrounded by a coating into capsules, and used to incorporate food ingredients, enzymes, cells or other materials on a micro metric scale.
In the study, the performance of the strain L.casei with omega-3 rich tuna oil when co-microencapsulated in a shell material made of whey protein isolate (WPI) and gum Arabic (GA) were examined.
The researchers wrote the digestibility of the co-microcapsules and microcapsules was studied in terms of the survival of L.casei, and release of oil in sequential exposure to simulated salivary, gastric and intestinal fluids. “Co-microencapsulation significantly increased the survival and surface hydrophobicity and the ability of L.casei to adhere to the intestinal wall.”
Three different microencapsulations were studied on. The first was a solution of tuna oil (15g) encapsulated in WPI and GA; the second L.casei probiotic cell mass in WPI and GA; and the third was co-microencapsulation of tuna oil with L.casei cell mass with WPI & GA. The findings revealed the unencapsulated probiotic culture showed a stable loss in viability in all three solutions.
All the samples, encapsulated or otherwise, eventually suffered loss of viability after being exposed to the simulated gastric condition. However, it was observed that there was significant reduction in viability from the encapsulation of only L.casei, compared to capsule with the combination of tuna oil and L.casei capsule. This revealed the microencapsulation of L.casei in complex coacervate shell material helps to improve its survival rate.
Nutraceutical manufacturers can encapsulate omega-3 for health supplements to improve the retention of probiotic cells, intestinal adhesion ability of L.casei, and increased omega-3 fatty acids content in the digestive system.