BeniCaros Accelerates Protective Immune Responses and Helps Healthy Individuals Maintain Quality of Life, New Clinical Data Finds

Clinical Study Results Published in Peer-reviewed Journal Nutrients

October 17, 2022 – A new clinical research paper provides additional evidence that BeniCaros®, a functional food, beverage and supplement ingredient, prepares the immune system and strengthens healthy immune responses, NutriLeads BV announced today. The research was recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients.

The research paper elaborates on previous findings that showed 300 mgs. of BeniCaros accelerated immune responses and significantly reduced the severity and duration of symptoms in a study of 146 healthy human subjects following a controlled challenge with a common cold virus. These latest data demonstrate that BeniCaros, a soluble prebiotic carrot fiber known scientifically as Rhamnogalacturonan-I or cRG-I, significantly reduced individual cold symptoms and helped subjects feel better and maintain their quality of life. The paper is titled, “Effects of Dietary Supplementation with Carrot-Derived Rhamnogalacturonan-I (cRG-I) on Accelerated Protective Immune Responses and Quality of Life in Healthy Volunteers Challenged with Rhinovirus in a Randomized Trial.”

“Subjects taking BeniCaros felt considerably better and reported significant reductions in common cold symptoms, including a runny nose, sore throat, coughing and feeling tired, compared with the placebo group,” said Ruud Albers, Ph.D., NutriLeads founder and Chief Scientific Officer. “The BeniCaros group also reported significantly better quality-of-life scores than the placebo group, including the ability to think clearly, exercise and accomplish daily activities and work inside and outside the home.”

BeniCaros has a dual mode of action that trains the immune system to respond faster, preparing innate immune cells for a heightened state of readiness, and selectively increases beneficial gut microorganisms and their metabolites that support immune responses.

“Our research shows that BeniCaros supports and accelerates healthy immune responses when they are needed most,” said Joana Carneiro, NutriLeads Chief Executive Officer. “These latest data illustrate the ways in which BeniCaros helps individuals live their lives so nothing slows them down.”

Study Design

In the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 146 healthy adults were given either BeniCaros or a placebo for eight weeks, after which they were exposed to a standardized dose of a mild rhinovirus via the nose. Researchers utilized blood, fecal and nasal fluid samples to count immune cells, track blood markers, measure immune responses and investigate gene expression. In addition, a validated clinical questionnaire was used to evaluate common cold symptom severity and quality of life.

Subjects were asked to complete the Wisconsin Upper Respiratory Symptom Score-21 (WURSS-21) questionnaire every morning for two weeks starting the day before infection. WURSS-21 is comprised of 21 questions divided into three sections: total score and “how well do you feel today?”, upper respiratory tract infection symptoms, and quality-of-life questions to assess the impact of a common cold on daily activities.

Study Results: BeniCaros Reduced Severity, Duration & Impact of Cold Symptoms

Subjects taking 300 mgs. of BeniCaros reported statistically significant reductions in symptom severity (20-33%) and duration (28-43%) compared with the placebo group, based on the total WURSS-21 over 13 days post infection. BeniCaros subjects experienced a lower peak value in severity (day 3) and lower impact (10-30%) of a variety of common cold symptoms, including runny nose, sore throat, cough and feeling tired.

BeniCaros also significantly reduced the negative impact of a common cold on quality of life. In comparison with the placebo group, BeniCaros subjects reported that their colds interfered 10-30% less with their quality of life. Key measurements included the ability to think clearly, walk, climb stairs, exercise, accomplish daily activities, work inside and outside the home and live their personal lives.

Biological study data show BeniCaros supports a cascade of protective immune responses in the presence of a health challenge. BeniCaros accelerated local and systemic immune response biomarkers, including critical anti-viral interferon gene expression and mobilization of innate immune cells to the site (nasal cavities) of the challenge. Ex vivo stimulation of whole blood samples demonstrated that BeniCaros enhanced the function of natural killer cells, which play an important role in the early innate immune response to virus infections. Importantly, systemic immune responses following BeniCaros supplementation were unchanged in the absence of an immune challenge.

“BeniCaros trains the immune system to be ready to respond when it is challenged,” said Dr. Albers. “It does not lead to broad, non-specific activation of the innate immune system. It is important that immune-support products designed to be taken long term do not stimulate or boost the immune system unnecessarily.”


NutriLeads Names Pathway International as Distributor for its Immune-support Ingredient BeniCaros in Australia and New Zealand

October 14, 2022 – NutriLeads BV today announced the appointment of Pathway International Pty Ltd as its representative in the Australian and New Zealand markets for functional food, beverage and supplement ingredients. NutriLeads is the manufacturer of award-winning BeniCaros®, a soluble prebiotic carrot fiber that trains the immune system to respond faster. Scientifically known as RG-I (Rhamnogalacturonan-I), BeniCaros works through a dual mode of action that prepares innate immune cells for a heightened state of readiness and selectively increases beneficial gut microorganisms and their metabolites that support immune responses.

A clinical study utilizing a controlled challenge with a common cold virus found that just 300 mgs. of BeniCaros daily accelerated protective immune responsiveness, reduced airway symptom severity (20-33%) and duration (25-43%) and minimized the impact on quality of life.“Pathway International’s experience in the sale of branded, specialized ingredients and its extensive relationships with major food, beverage and supplement manufacturers throughout the region make it an excellent partner for NutriLeads,” said Joana Carneiro, NutriLeads Chief Executive Officer.

“BeniCaros offers multifunctional immune and gut health benefits and it’s backed by strong science,” said Wayne Coote, Managing Director, Pathway International. “We believe this new relationship will make it easier for manufacturers to create new products with this innovative immune health ingredient.”

About Pathway International

Pathway International is a privately owned Australian company that was established in 1995 to supply ingredients to the complementary medicine, personal care, functional food and beverage industries in Australia and New Zealand. The company has established strategic relationships with major brand marketers and contract manufacturers in Australia and New Zealand providing our principals broad access to a diverse customer base.


Staying immune fit: how to train the body’s defence system

The immune system is the body’s surveillance system that responds to infections. It’s our defence against the various challenges that we encounter every day, most of which are fought off without notice, reports Ruud Albers, CSO, NutriLeads

Optimal functioning of the immune system is crucial to remain fit and enjoy life to its fullest. To respond to infections, the immune system deploys two interconnected defence methods: the innate and the adaptive immune system. The innate immune system is the body’s first line of defence; it can quickly respond to infections without needing to first learn how to recognise an invading pathogen.

It also triggers the adaptive immune system, which takes time to identify a particular infection and generate immunological memory. Effective innate immune responses limit the extent of an infection early on and ensure that many infections are curbed before their presence can even be realised.

Just like other parts of the body, the immune system needs to be nourished and trained to effectively respond to challenges. A fit immune system ensures the best outcomes: quick, appropriate and effective responses against infections. Immune fitness provides the resilience required for the body to remain in a healthy balanced state — or quickly bounce back to it — in the face of daily infectious challenges from potentially harmful agents.

The majority (70–80%) of immune cells within the human body are found in the stomach where they work together with the gut microbiota to regulate immune balance. The immune system co-evolves with the gut microbiota and both work together to defend against pathogens and to develop tolerance for beneficial microbes.

The immune system senses what passes through the gut and its responsiveness is tuned by the signals it detects from food, especially from specific fibres and the gut microbiota.

Cells from the immune system circulate from the gut to other parts of the body to relay the messages they picked up in the gut. A healthy diet comprising sufficient fibres that contain appropriate signals, combined with the crosstalk between the gut microbiota and the immune system, supports protective responses against pathogens, promotes tolerance to harmless microbes and avoids harmful chronic inflammatory responses.

The maintenance of this delicate balance between consumed food, the gut microbiota that grows on it and the immune system is crucial to human health, especially when faced with harmful agents that threaten to adversely affect our well-being.

The immune system requires energy and micronutrients to perform its basic functions. However, to be at its best, it also needs to be trained through exposure to specific patterns (signals) from the diet and the gut microbiota. Fibres are particularly important when it comes to training the immune system and reinforcing a healthy level of crosstalk between the gut microbiota and the immune system.

However, similar to the fact that not all vitamins are the same, not all fibres have the same characteristics … and some are more effective than others. A fit immune system requires that nutritional deficiencies (vitamin B6, C, D and zinc, for example) are adequately supplemented and that it receives appropriate “training” stimuli in the gut from the diet and the microbiota.

Recently, it was discovered that a specific fibre derived from carrot pomace (rhamnogalacturonan-I or cRG-I) has unique properties when it comes to supporting immune fitness. When unlocked from the plant cell wall, complex chemical patterns in cRG-I are recognised by the innate immune system in the gut, contributing to its training.

cRG-I is not digested, but preferentially fermented by beneficial micro-organisms that produce metabolites — such as short chain fatty acids — which also affect the immune system.1 With this dual mode of action, cRG-I contributes to immune fitness by training immune cells in the gut, which, after migration through the body, improves immune system responsiveness.

NutriLeads’ clinical studies have shown that cRG-I produced by upcycling carrot pomace, a side stream of carrot juice production, is safe for human consumption, signals to the innate immune system and stimulates beneficial micro-organisms and their production of immune supportive metabolites.2–5

In a unique clinical trial, it was subsequently shown that the daily intake of 0.3 g of cRG-I accelerates protective immune responses against a common pathogen, significantly reducing its impact.6

Immune fitness requires more than the right micronutrients; the immune system needs training. Carrot RG-I has been clinically demonstrated to prepare the immune system to be fit all year round and is now commercially available for the first time. It offers the opportunity to develop new dietary supplements, functional foods and beverages with a differentiating immune health claim and communication versus micronutrient supplementation alone.


  1. D. Wu, et al., “Rethinking the Impact of RG-I Mainly from Fruits and Vegetables on Dietary Health,” Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 60(17), 2938–2960 (2020).
  2. D. Jonker,et al., “Safety Assessment of Rhamnogalacturonan-Enriched Carrot Pectin Fraction: 90-Day Oral Toxicity Study in Rats and In Vitro Genotoxicity Studies,” Food and Chemical Toxicology 139, 111243 (2020).
  3. S. McKay, et al., “Development of an Affordable, Sustainable and Efficacious Plant-Based Immunomodulatory Food Ingredient Based on Bell Pepper or Carrot RG-I Pectic Polysaccharides,” Nutrients 13(3), 963 (2021).
  4. P. Van den Abbeele, et al., “A Novel Non-Digestible, Carrot-Derived Polysaccharide (cRG-I) Selectively Modulates the Human Gut Microbiota While Promoting Gut Barrier Integrity: An Integrated In Vitro Approach,” Nutrients 12(7), 1917 (2020).
  5. P. Van den Abbeele, et al., “Consistent Prebiotic Effects of Carrot RG-I on the Gut Microbiota of Four Human Adult Donors in the SHIME® Model Despite Baseline Individual Variability,” Microorganisms 9(10), 2142 (2021).
  6. R. Lutter, et al., “Dietary Intake of Carrot-Derived Rhamnogalacturonan-I Accelerates and Augments the Innate Immune and Anti-Viral Interferon Response to Rhinovirus Infection and Reduces Duration and Severity of Symptoms in Humans,” submitted for publication.

Article in Nutraceutical Business Review, date: 4 November 2021.