12 January - 20 June 2016

How might prebiotics help?

06 Feb 13

A review paper published in British Journal of Nutrition by researchers at the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium) attempts to explain how prebiotic carbohydrates might work.  Citing 60+ references, the paper notes that experimental data suggest that the composition of the gut microbiota differs in obese v. lean individuals, in diabetic v. non-diabetic patients, or in patients presenting other diseases associated with obesity or nutritional imbalance. They argue that highly fermentable carbohydrates, such as prebiotics, can influence the composition of gut bacteria, and this in turn can modulate host gene expression and metabolism, affecting metabolic pathways linked to obesity, including hyperglycaemia, inflammation and hepatic steatosis. In particular, the authors argue that prebiotic consumption can be related to an improvement of gut bacterial functions implicated in the regulation of host energy homoeostasis. Prebiotics favour growth of bacteria that help control gut barrier function and host immunity. They also promote gut hormones that control appetite, glucose homoeostasis and systemic inflammation. The prebiotic approach also counteracts hepatic steatosis, hepatic insulin resistance and adiposity by modifying gene expression at the tissue level.  In presenting their paper, the authors also acknowledge that more work needs to be done to discover exactly if and how prebiotics can aid human health. They argue for appropriate human intervention studies with ‘colonic’ nutrients (dietary fibres, prebiotics and others) able to selectively promote beneficial bacteria, or with food containing colonic nutrients. Such studies, they conclude, are essential to confirm the relevance of those nutrients in the nutritional management of overweight and obesity.

RSSL's Product and Ingredient Innovation Team, has considerable experience in formulating products containing prebiotics and probiotics. For more information please contact Customer Services on Freephone 0800 243482 or email enquiries@rssl.com

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