12 January - 20 June 2016

Prebiotics and health of the elderly

8 May 13

An article published in Food Research International reviews the effects of prebiotics on the health of the elderly, and largely argues in favour of their benefits. Prebiotics are ingredients that selectively stimulate the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of species/genera of bacteria in the intestinal microbiota. To be considered prebiotic a food component must be resistant to salivary, pancreatic, and intestinal enzymes; be fermentable by the intestinal microbiota; and selectively stimulate the growth and/or activity of intestinal bacteria to contribute to health and wellbeing. Inulin type fructans (ITF), such as inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS), and  galactooligosaccharides (GOS) exhibit prebiotic effects.  The Brazilian review writers cite approximately 100 papers. They note that changes to intestinal microbiota occur with ageing and these changes affect immune function, diet, and lifestyle, and predispose the elderly to illness. They conclude that fructan-type prebiotics are an effective option for preserving colonic health and welfare because they reduce the risk of chronic diseases in the elderly. However, they note that while in vitro and in vivo studies have shown the favourable effect of prebiotics, crucially, the mechanisms of action of prebiotics in the aged human body are not yet fully explained. Therefore, new and broader interventions in humans are necessary to determine the effectiveness of prebiotics in the elderly, especially studies with specific methodologies that clarify the metabolism and possible mechanisms and sites of action of these nutrients.

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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