Microbiota modulation with prebiotic chicory root fibre shows mood improvement

The first human intervention study using prebiotic dietary fibre oligofructose and the human milk oligosaccharide 2’fucosyllactose has shown that its intake can result in improvements in mood

A new study, conducted by Jackson et al, has demonstrated that the intake of the prebiotic dietary fibre oligofructose alone, or in combination with the human milk oligosaccharide 2’fucosyllactose, promotes a significant increase in bifidobacteria in the gut and can result in substantial improvements in mood* in healthy adults with mild to moderate feelings of anxiety and depression.1

Two out of three consumers across the globe already see the importance of their gut on mood, saying that their digestive health has an influence on their mental wellbeing and stress levels.2 Thanks to the gut-brain axis, important mood parameters can be influenced via microbiota modulation. With mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression an increasing burden to the health systems globally,3 using a diet-approach that positively influences microbiota using gut-friendly food is an attractive proposition for decreasing public health costs and supporting healthy living.

The study, which ran over five weeks (comprised of a one week run-in and a four-week intervention), aimed to look at the effect of the chicory root fibre oligofructose and the human milk oligosaccharide 2’fucosyllactose on intestinal colonisation and their ability to reduce anxiety and depression. The 92 subjects chosen for the study were healthy and had mild to moderate levels of anxiety and depression. Using a randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled, parallel designed methodology, the subjects were split into four groups of 23 and given either 8g of oligofructose plus 2g of maltodextrin per day, 8g of oligofructose plus 2g of 2’fucosyllactose per day, 2g of 2’fucosyllactose plus 8g of maltodextrin per day, or 10g of maltodextrin per day.

The results showed that at the end of the four-week intervention period, those participants taking the prebiotic oligofructose on its own, or in combination with 2’fucosyllactose, experienced significant increases in beneficial gut bacteria, including bifidobacterium, bacteroides, roseburia and faecalibacterium prausnitzii, compared to the control group. Additionally, those taking oligofructose on its own or in combination with 2’fucosyllactose also outperformed the control group in improvements in several mood state parameters.

Commenting on the findings, Dr Stephan Theis, head of Nutrition Science at BENEO, said: “Thanks to this study, an important piece of scientific evidence has been contributed to the fascinating science of the gut-brain-axis. The results add to the growing body of evidence showing that the composition of gut microbiota and resulting metabolites impact mood state. The findings also demonstrate that targeted influence with prebiotics may be a viable way to improve mood. It is notable that oligofructose has once again been shown to have a significant effect on beneficial microbiota and is an essential contributor to the beneficial effects on gut microbiota and mood parameters when combined with 2’fucosyllactose.”

BENEO’s prebiotic chicory root fibre, Orafti Oligofructose, is natural, non-GMO and clean label. Chicory root fibres are derived from the plant via a gentle hot water extraction method, unlike some synthetic fibres. Due to their technical properties, chicory root fibres can be used in a range of food and beverage applications including baby food, according to national legislations. As the only proven plant-based prebiotics, inulin and oligofructose support a healthy gut microbiota and selectively promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms, such as bifidobacteria, in the gut. They are preferred food for those good microorganisms and thus help them to selectively multiply and grow in numbers. Due to the increased bacterial metabolism in the large intestine, regularity is also improved.

* “Mood” in this study covers several mood state parameter such as depression (beck depression inventory), anxiety (state trait anxiety inventory) and positive and negative feelings (positive and negative affect schedule short form)


1 Jackson PPJ,Wijeyesekera A, Williams CM, Theis S, van Harsselaar J, Rastall RA, (2023) Inulin-type fructas and 2’fucosyllactose alter both microbial composition and appear to alleviate stress-induced mood state in a working population compared to placebo (maltodextrin): the EFFICAD Trial, a randomized, controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Published 29 August 2023, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajcnut.2023.08.016

2 BENEO’s Global Prebiotic Survey 2023 (N= 9243)

3 Chisholm, Dan; Sweeny, Kim; Sheehan, Peter; Rasmussen, Bruce; Smit, Filip; Cuijpers, Pim; Saxena, Shekhar (2016): Scaling-up treatment of depression and anxiety: a global return on investment analysis. In: The Lancet Psychiatry 3 (5), S. 415–424. DOI: 10.1016/S2215-0366(16)30024-4.