Prebiotic Information and Scientific Study and Research Referrences

Commonly known, and researched, prebiotics are:

Oligofructose (FOS), Inulin , Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), Lactulose , Breast milk oligosaccharides and Psyllium

Lactulose is a synthetic disaccharide used as a drug for the treatment of constipation and hepatic encephalopathy. The prebiotic oligofructose is found naturally in many foods, such as wheat, onions, bananas, honey, garlic, and leeks. Oligofructose can also be isolated from chicory root or synthesized enzymatically from sucrose. Inulins are a group of naturally occurring polysaccharides produced by many types of plants. They belong to a class of dietary fibers known as fructans. Galacto-oligosaccharides are produced through the enzymatic conversion of lactose, a component of bovine milk. They do not occur naturally in human milk. Breast milk oligosaccharides do. Psyllium (or Ispaghula) is the common name used for several members of the plant genus Plantago, whose seeds are used commercially as polar glycoproteins and as exopolysaccharides.

Prebiotic fibres cannot be absorbed or broken down by the body and therefore serve as a great food source for probiotics, in particular the beneficial Bifidobacteria genus, to increase their numbers, especially in the colon. Prebiotics by nature do not stimulate the growth of bad bacteria or other pathogens. Research shows that there are different types of prebiotics, in a similar manner as there are different types of probiotics. With prebiotics, the key differentiating factor is the length of the chemical chain – short chain; medium chain or long chain determines where in the gastrointestinal tract the prebiotic has its effect & how the benefits are felt by the host.

Scientific studies and referrences we have found for prebiotics

Researchers at the Human Nutrition Research Centre in Auvergne found that mice given long-chain inulin or an oligofructose-enriched inulin showed significantly reduced levels of triacylglycerol and 30% less atherosclerotic plaque. Source: M-H Rault-Nania et al., British Journal of Nutrition, Volume 96, Number 5, Pages 840-844

A large study sponsored by the EU found that a mix of both probiotics and prebiotics largely modified the composition of the colonic bacterial ecosystem, and could in this way diminish the amount of cancer-promoting bacteria. The number of Clostridium perfringens, a bacterial strain thought to convert dietary substances to carcinogenic compounds, decreased notably in participants given the synbiotic product. Lead author Joseph Rafter stated that use of synbiotics may represent a fine means of “chemoprevention of colon cancer in humans”. Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Volume 85, Pages 488-496 "Dietary synbiotics reduce cancer risk factors in polypectomized and colon cancer patients" Feb.2007

An animal study at the Université Henri Poincare Nancy rats were administered with the prebiotics inulin and oligofructose (FOS). Results demonstrated increased survival rates in rats given the prebiotics, and also lower body weight and lower cholesterol when compared to rats in the control group. Within the male rats’groups, at 18 months old all animals on prebiotics were still alive, compared to 76% of the rats not on prebiotics. Source: British Journal of Nutrition Published online ahead of print, 11 Apr 2008, doi: 10.1017/S0007114508975607, "Effects of lifelong intervention with an oligofructose-enriched inulin in rats on general health and lifespan" Authors: P. Rozan, A. Nejdi, S. Hidalgo, J.-F. Bisson, D. Desor, M. Messaoudi

A blend of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium probiotics with the prebiotic oligofructose was linked to a reduction in the oxidation of LDL, associated with hardening of the arteries. This EU and MicroFunction Project concluded that the overall antioxidant activity of the participants taking synbiotic supplements was higher than the antioxidant activity of placebo subjects.
Source: Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 2007, Volume 66, Page 101A "Effects of a synbiotic on biomarkers of oxidative stress and faecal microbiota in healthy adults: results of a cross-over double-blind placebo-controlled trial

Paineau, D. et al. (2007) The effects of regular consumption of short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides on digestive comfort of subjects with minor functional bowel disorders. British Journal of Nutrition. 99: pp. 311-318. Results - increased regularity of bowel movement

A study by Nestle found that formula with Bifidobacterium longum and the prebiotics GOS and FOS was beneficial to the general health of infants. The study covered 138 infants and gave each of them either a synbiotic mix (with both prebiotics and probiotics) in their formula, or a placebo control. The conclusion was that children with the synbiotic mix had less incidences of constipation, as well as less infections of the respiratory tract.
Source: Nutrition January 2007, Volume 23, Issue 1, Pages 1-8 "Clinical evaluation of a new starter formula for infants containing live Bifidobacterium longum BL999 and prebiotics" Authors: G. Puccio, C. Cajozzo, F. Meli, F. Rochat, D. Grathwohl and P. Steenhout

A small study at the Paris Université René Descartes in Oct. 2006 involving 35 healthy children administered either oligofructose (FOS) or a maltodextrin placebo for a period of 21 days. Children given the prebiotics were found to have increased Bifidobacteria in the faeces, and significantly decreased levels of the potentially harmful bacteria, Clostridia. They also caught fewer infectious diseases, and demonstrated less flatulence, diarrhoea, vomiting and fever when compared to the children given the placebo.

October 2007 - Australian researchers analysed 12 studies covering 2,000 infants to find that probiotics such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and prebiotics such as GOS and FOS demonstrated benefits for various allergic and atopic diseases, and food intolerances. The majority of the studies analysed for this report administered probiotics during the mother’s pregnancy or when breastfeeding, or added probiotics to infant formula for the first six months.
Source: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 4. "Prebiotics in infants for prevention of allergic disease and food hypersensitivity" Authors: D.A. Osborn, J.K. Sinn

Cazzola, M. et al. (2010) Immunomodulatory impact of synbiotic in TH1 and TH2 models of infection; Therapeutic Advances in Respiratory Disease 0(0) pp. 1-13 :- Study showed efficacy of a synbiotic supplementation in the prevention of common diseases in children in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study;


NB: In some cases, prebiotics can cause minor disturbance / flatulence in the first few days of taking them… but after 3-4 days of continued use (once the intestines have adapted to the prebiotics) this discomfort tends to disappear, and positive results are experienced.

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UK prebiotics scientific studies and research information