Study demonstrates prebiotic effects on gut health

A recently published study conducted by researchers from The Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences University of Reading working in collaboration with the BENEO-Institute, demonstrates that prebiotic chicory root fibres support the selective growth of Bifidobacteria in the human gut, no matter which food application and food matrix they are used in.

BENEO has celebrated the good news for producers looking to bring the gut health benefits of prebiotic chicory root fibre into a range of consumer food products.

Encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacteria is important as it supports human health via positive effects on the gut environment. It also creates less favourable living conditions for potential pathogen bacteria and has benefits beyond digestive health for overall well-being.

The bioavailability and therefore, efficacy, of some ingredients and nutrients has been found to be impacted by the food matrix they are in. As a result, certain benefits cannot be credibly claimed by producers, as the ingredient’s function may differ depending on the application or matrix it is used in.

The study demonstrates that when prebiotic chicory root fibres are incorporated into food application this is no longer the case. This is a key factor for producers to consider.

Studies of inulin-type fructans in various food applications and matrices already exist, but BENEo welcomes the study for showcasing the effects of chicory root fibre in different food applications within one study, enabling direct comparison.

This study was designed as a prospective, parallel-group, randomised trial. The participants were split into four groups  – with 24 participants in each. The foods reflected a wide range of matrices, such as baked, semi-solid and liquid, and were consumed as part of the populations’ habitual diet.

The first group received pure inulin while the other groups were given inulin-enriched foods in the format of shortbread, milk chocolate or a rice drink, depending on which group they belonged to. All groups consumed a total of 10g of chicory root fibre (BENEO’s Orafti® Inulin) per day (5g in the morning and 5g in the evening), and stool samples were taken at the beginning and at the end of the ten day intervention.

At the end of the intervention period, the four groups’ results were analysed and in all cases, the bacterial enumeration demonstrated a significant increase in Bifidobacteria on day ten. In fact, an average 92% increase of Bifidobacteria was seen across all four groups compared to the baseline, and no significant differences were detected between any of the intervention groups on day 10.

“Thanks to this study, product developers can ‘tick off’ one key question from their check list: does the functional ingredient deliver the desired benefit when used in the final application? And the answer for chicory root fibre enrichment clearly is ‘yes’,” said Anke Sentko, Vice President Regulatory Affairs & Nutrition Communication at BENEO. “It has now been scientifically proven that the intended Bifidobacteria growth is independent from the food matrix that is used. These findings add to the large body of studies about the beneficial effects of chicory root fibres that already exist and are based on more than 25 years of scientific research on the proven prebiotics inulin and oligofructose.”

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Media contact

Caitlin Gittins
Editor, International Confectionery
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 920

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