Two recently published scientific studies are building on findings from earlier research, with results showing that BENEO’s prebiotic chicory root fibres support digestive health by improving bowel regularity and softening stools, while being very well tolerated. With up to 30% of the Western population (including children) affected by a low number of weekly bowel movements and hard stools[i], the potential for using chicory root fibres in this area of digestive health cannot be underestimated.
The first study by Antje Micka et al.[ii], shows that chicory root inulin improves bowel function in adults and contributes to improved digestive health. The second study by Ricardo Closa-Monasterolo et al.[iii], focuses on children between the ages of two to five years old and demonstrates that prebiotic chicory root fibres, inulin and oligofructose, support digestive health by improving stool consistency, while being very well tolerated.
The clinical trial conducted by Micka et al. was a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over design trial of 44 healthy, slightly constipated subjects (self-reported constipation defined as 2-3 stools per week). Participants were supplemented with 3x4g/day of BENEO’s chicory root fibre, Orafti® Inulin, or placebo (maltodextrin). The supplements were delivered in a drink form that was consumed together with breakfast, lunch and dinner over a 4-week period and after a 2-week run-in phase. The results showed that BENEO’s prebiotic chicory inulin significantly improved stool frequency per week without resulting in gastrointestinal discomfort. It also contributed to improved overall wellbeing and satisfaction, evaluated by a validated quality of life questionnaire for constipated people.
The research design followed the EFSA guidance documents for studies addressing digestive function (EFSA Gold Standard). It was also included in BENEO’s dossier for a 13.5 claim that resulted in a positive opinion, as well as an exclusive claim for its prebiotic chicory inulin and digestive health.
The study by Closa-Monasterolo et al. is the first to show that prebiotic chicory inulin and oligofructose also support normal bowel habits in children between the ages of two to five years old. It was a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled parallel group design. The children received a 2x2g/day combination of BENEO’s Orafti® Inulin and Oligofructose, or placebo (maltodextrin), incorporated into yoghurt or fresh cheese, for a 6-week period. Results showed that the chicory root fibres softened the stools of the constipated children and were as well tolerated as the fully digestible placebo.
While there are a number of scientific studies that demonstrate the positive effects of prebiotic fibres, inulin and oligofructose, in infants and small children (0-2 years old)[iv],[v],[vi], there was previously limited data on their effect in children between the ages of 2 to 5 years old. This really highlights the high level of importance of the recent study results. Also, this is especially significant because this age group is particularly at risk of constipation due to their change in diet (overall low dietary fibre intake), toilet and potty training, as well as more exposure outside of the home (kindergarten), all of which may influence their digestive well-being.
The physiological mechanisms underlying this digestive support by chicory root fibres are related to their prebiotic effect. They selectively stimulate the growth of bacteria promoting saccharolytic fermentation, in particular Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) described the underlying fermentation-driven mechanism in their positive opinion on Orafti® Inulin and the improvement of regularity[vii].
Anke Sentko, Vice President Regulatory Affairs and Nutrition Communication at BENEO commented: “Digestive health matters at every age. The two recent high quality human intervention studies show once again that BENEO’s prebiotic chicory root fibres effectively support digestive health in children and adults. Chicory root fibres, inulin and oligofructose, are the best studied prebiotic fibres. They support regularity as well as wellbeing, therefore meeting consumers’ needs and making them an important area of focus for many food and drink manufacturers.”
BENEO’s Orafti® Inulin and Oligofructose are natural, non-GMO, clean label prebiotic fibres that are derived from chicory root via a gentle hot water extraction method. These characteristics underline the uniqueness of these dietary fibres and differentiates them from others.
[ii] Micka A., et al (2016): Effect of consumption of chicory inulin on bowel function in healthy subjects with constipation: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, DOI: 10.1080/09637486.2016.1212819
[iii] Closa-Monasterolo, R., Ferre, N., Castillejo-DeVillasante, G., Luque, V., Gispert-Llaurado, M., Zaragoza-Jordana, M., Theis, S., Escribano, J. (2016) The use of inulin-type fructans improves stool consistency in constipated children. A randomised clinical trial: pilot study. International journal of food sciences and nutrition, 1–11.
[iv] Closa-Monasterolo, R., Gispert-Llaurado, M., Luque, V., Ferre, N., Rubio-Torrents, C., Zaragoza-Jordana, M., Escribano, J. (2013) Safety and efficacy of inulin and oligofructose supplementation in infant formula: results from a randomized clinical trial. Clinical nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland) 32, 918–927. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23498848
[v] Wernimont, S., Northington, R., Kullen, M.J., Yao, M., Bettler, J. (2015) Effect of an α-lactalbumin-enriched infant formula supplemented with oligofructose on fecal microbiota, stool characteristics, and hydration status: a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial. Clin Pediatr (Phila) 54, 359–370.
[vi] Veereman-Wauters, G., Staelens, S., van de Broek, H., Plaskie, K., Wesling, F., Roger, L., McCartney, A., Assam, P. (2011) Physiological and bifidogenic effects of prebiotic supplements in infant formulae. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 52, 763–771.
[vii] EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) (2015) Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of a health claim related to “native chicory inulin” and maintenance of normal defecation by increasing stool frequency pursuant to Article 13.5 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/20061. EFSA Journal 13 (1) 3951.Citation: “Inulin resists hydrolysis and absorption in the human small intestine, but reaches the large intestine essentially complete, where it is fermented to short-chain fatty acids, lactate and gases by colonic bacteria. This is accompanied by an increase in bacterial cell mass and a higher water content of digesta. In this way Orafti®Inulin leads to softer stools and facilitated excretion as well as to an enhanced propulsion of colonic contents via chemical and mechanical stimulation of the peristaltic reflex and hence an increase in the frequency of bowel movements.”