When we think of algae, our minds go to seaweeds and sushi. Few realize that marine algae are used to extract polysaccharides that are used extensively as gelling and emulsifying agents in many human foods, worldwide. Yet, even fewer know that marine algae, and namely macro-algae, are currently being investigated for their multifaceted health properties in human and animals. Indeed, seen from a functional feed perspective, the right type or combination of marine algae can offer the following five advantages:
- Immune modulation and stimulation enhancing animal resistance to diseases
- Stimulation of mucin secretion that protects the luminal surface of the enteric epithelium
- Management of fat metabolism (digestive health) — a yet unexplored benefit in animals
- Prebiotic activity through enhanced counts of beneficial bacteria (lactobacilli, bifidobacteria)
- Interaction of algal polysaccharides and clay for more efficient mycotoxin management
In brief, certain marine macro-algae contain polysaccharides with such functional properties that can enhance the health status of poultry and pigs when used as part of their feed.