BENEO focuses on digestive health

22 Mar 2016

Public awareness of the importance of dietary fibre has been growing in recent decades, notes BENEO, and consumers are increasingly seeking out convenient food and drink that deliver it

According to the company, more than a third of the Chinese are concerned about digestive discomfort, such as constipation. Close to two thirds of Americans want to maintain a healthy digestion and over 70% of those confirm that it plays a very important role in their shopping decisions. Similarly in Europe, consumers see digestive health as desirable: three out of four people in the UK and Spain eat digestive health products to improve their overall health.
Beneficial microorganisms play a key role in maintaining a healthy digestive system, the company goes on to say, and of these, bifidobactyeria and lactobacilli clearly fulfil the criteria of contributing to the stabilisation of a balanced flora; producing short chain fatty acids and preferring non-digestible carbohydrates as its food; and having no negative effects.

Around 20 years ago, BENEO explains, researchers started looking for nutrients that could support the growth of the beneficial microorganisms that occur naturally in the large intestine. Such a nutrient would need to reach the colon intact, escaping the digestion process. On reaching the large intestine, this nutrient would be the preferred substrate for those specific beneficial microorganisms - i.e. the bifidoflora would just love that food and eat it quickly. With the advantage of a privileged nutrient supply, the bifidobacteria would benefit more than any other microorganism and would grow faster than others. The number of the good bacteria in the large intestine would increase. This increase would logically go hand in hand with an increase in the beneficial functions and thus would support a healthy microflora ecosystem.

Prebiotic
The research gave rise to the term “prebiotic”, which is today defined as “a dietary prebiotic is a selectively fermented ingredient that results in specific changes, in the composition and/or activity of the gastrointestinal microbiota, thus conferring benefit(s) upon host health.”
Proven prebiotics today are inulin-type fructans from chicory (plant-made dietary fibre), such as Oraft Inulin and Oligofructose (FOS, fructo-oligosaccharides) which are found in many fruits and vegetables and which are added to food for fibre enrichment.

Chicory root fibre, BENEO notes, has an abundance of sound science related to digestive health, with an official, exclusive health claim (art 13.5) authorised by the European Commission: Chicory inulin contributes to normal bowel function by increasing stool frequency. Consumers understand and deem this official health claim as credible, BENEO believes. They will, says the company, be additionally intrigued by packaging statements such as “promotes digestive health” and “supports a healthy and balanced digestive system”.

Over two decades of nutrition research on chicory root fibre makes it one of the best-researched fibres in the world, BENEO claims. For many studies, the company worked in close collaboration with renowned universities pioneering prebiotic research and research on metabolic aspects. In total, more than 150 high quality human intervention studies have been published on chicory root fibre, delivering strong evidence for a number of distinct physiological benefits.

The original paper on which this article is based contains significantly more information and can be downloaded from here.

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