A recently published studyi conducted by researchers from The Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences University of Reading (UK), 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. This is good news for producers wanting to bring the bifidogenic effect and gut health benefits of prebiotic chicory root fibre to a wide variety 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 have 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. However, the study shows that when incorporating prebiotic chicory root fibre into food applications, this is not the case. This is a key factor for producers to consider given that three in four consumers who buy prebiotics state product efficacy as a key purchasing factor (76%)ii.
Though several studies of inulin-type fructans in various food applications and matrices already exist, this is the first time that the effects of chicory root fibre in different food applications have been included within one study design, enabling their 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. While the first group received pure inulin (for comparison purposes), the other participants 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 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 ten. Irrespective of the food application and matrix, the prebiotic chicory root fibres were shown to support the selective growth of Bifidobacteria and the results were consistent across two different study methods used within the research. Thanks to these findings, product developers can have even more science-based trust in the functional benefits of BENEO’s chicory root fibres.
Anke Sentko, Vice President Regulatory Affairs & Nutrition Communication at BENEO comments: “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’. 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.”
BENEO’s chicory root fibres, Orafti® Inulin, and Oligofructose, are the only proven plant-based prebiotics, comply with the ISAPP (International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics) definition of prebioticsiii and are backed up by the highest level of scientific evidence established in more than 25 years of scientific research. The prebiotic effect of chicory root fibres has been shown to support a number of health aspects in numerous human intervention studies, including improved bowel function, the inner defense system, weight, and blood sugar management.
The BENEO-Institute is an organization that brings together BENEO’s expertise from Nutrition Science and Legislation teams. It acts as an advisory body for customers and partners reaching from ingredient approval, physiological effects, and nutritional composition to communication, education, and labelling. The BENEO-Institute works on topics related to the microbiome and prebiotics, digestive health and well-being, blood sugar management, and the achievement of lower glycaemic diets, cognition, and mental health, as well as bone health. It also addresses nutrition related questions regarding protein and fibre intake requirements, sugar reduction, and more.
The BENEO-Institute facilitates access to the latest scientific research and knowledge throughout all nutritional and regulatory topics related to BENEO ingredients. It provides BENEO customers and partners with substantiated guidance for some of the most critical questions in the food and feed industry and public health. BENEO is a division of the Südzucker Group that employs more than 1,000 people and has production units in Belgium, Chile, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands.
i Jackson PPJ, Wijeyesekera A, Theis S, Van Harsselaar J, Rastall RA (2023) Effects of food matrix on the prebiotic efficacy of inulin-type fructans: a randomised trial. Beneficial microbes. Published 29 August 2023: https://brill.com/view/journals/bm/aop/article-10.1163-18762891-20220120/article-10.1163-18762891-20220120.xml
ii FMCG Gurus, Prebiotics survey, Q2 2022. A total of 10,000 consumers were surveyed across 10 countries (1,000 per country), here: filtered by consumers who purchase prebiotics, N = 1,260. iii Gibson GR, Hutkins R, Sanders ME, et al. (2017) Expert consensus document: The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on the definition and scope of prebiotics. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 14(8): 491–502.