The inaugural Global Prebiotics Week, created by the Global Prebiotic Association (GPA), has now come to a close, but the opportunities to learn more about gut health last all year round.
Designed to help make prebiotic knowledge more accessible, each day took a different perspective on this growing category to build a fuller, and more well-rounded understanding. Throughout the week, we have played our part by sharing content and amplifying the messages of gut health from the GPA.
During the week, Per Rehné, CEO at Clasado Biosciences, the team behind Bimuno®, took part in an ‘Ask an Expert’ session. The session can be watched here, breaking down the science behind the prebiotic category and what the future may hold for nutritional supplements.
So, what did we learn during Global Prebiotics Week? Below is a roundup of key learning points discussed.
The definition of a prebiotic
It’s safe to say that gut health is becoming high on the agenda for people around the world. As we become more aware of how important the gut is to physical health and wellbeing, there are also new terms and technologies to add to our lexicon.
The Global Prebiotic Association defines a prebiotic as “a nutritional product and/or ingredient that is selectively utilised in the microbiome, producing health benefits”.
We can see this in action with our award-winning prebiotic supplement Bimuno® DAILY. Bimuno travels through the digestive system to the gut. As prebiotic fibre is the preferred fuel source for bifidobacteria, it nourishes and encourages proliferation of this ‘good bacteria’ without feeding the bad.
The good bacteria that thrive with prebiotic fibre are known to have additional benefits to physical wellbeing and therefore, a health benefit.
Why are prebiotics proving so successful?
The prebiotic category, including functional foods and supplements, is seeing a significant rise. In fact, according to intelligence agency Grand View Research, the market for prebiotics is expected to reach a global market value of $7.11Bn by 2024. This projection shows that a specific type of prebiotic, Galactooligosaccharides (GOS), is set to experience particularly strong growth as the public becomes more attuned to gut health support. Bimuno contains a proprietary GOS mixture derived from lactose, which powers its ability to nourish bifidobacteria in the gut.
A key goal of Global Prebiotics Week, as well as creating greater understanding of the category, is to help the public distinguish between prebiotics and the similarly named probiotics, which have been available on the market for a much longer time.
The two share a common goal - but achieve it through different methods. Probiotics are good bacteria that are added to the gut microbiome through the digestive system – kefir and fermented foods are good examples of this. In contrast, prebiotics are fuel for the good bacteria that are already in the gut microbiome, encouraging them to grow and flourish in numbers.
During Global Prebiotics Week, resources touched on the development of a third category, ‘synbiotics’, which was discussed during the ‘Ask the Experts’ webinar. This is a product that combines both probiotics and prebiotics to add more helpful microbes to the gut and nourish the microbiome’s good bacteria at the same time.
How do prebiotics fit into everyday diet?
Prebiotic fibre can be found naturally in many foods – some of which are common in our diets, and some that are not.
It is present in foods such as Jerusalem artichokes, shallots, garlic and whole grain oats. It can also be found in many legumes, such as chickpeas and lentils. However, despite being found in a diverse range of foods, there is a known public health challenge surrounding fibre intake, known as the ‘fibre gap’. Studies on behalf of Public Health England show that just 9% of adults in the UK are reaching the recommended 30g of fibre per day, which includes 5g of prebiotic fibre.
As a type of fibre, prebiotics are one way to help bridge the fibre gap, which means they could be a very important part of the diet!
Where can we find prebiotics outside of food?
It is important to note that not everyone can easily increase their intake of prebiotic fibre through changes to diet. One example is those that are on a ‘Low-FODMAP diet’ (‘Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols’). This dietary practice seeks to avoid certain carbohydrates that can trigger digestive symptoms in some individuals and is a particularly common approach for those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS).
For those that cannot easily increase their fibre intake through diet alone, a prebiotic supplement such as Bimuno may be recommended by a healthcare professional as an alternative.
Bimuno is the result of a long research project that began at the University of Reading in 2004. Since then, Bimuno has become the most studied prebiotic of its kind, supported by over 90 scientific publications, including more than 20 clinical trials.
What does the science tell us?
The key to appreciating the potential of prebiotics is in knowing how valuable the good bacteria is in supporting physical and mental health. Our gut microbiome has such a vast influence over the body that the benefits of supporting our good bacteria become very clear.
As well as aiding digestion, the gut microbiome exerts influence over areas including the immune function, mood and cognition.
For example, through nourishing the good bacteria, Bimuno has been shown in several studies to reduce the physical effects of digestive discomfort. Crucially, by specifically targeting bifidobacteria, which do not contribute to intestinal gas production, Bimuno does not lead to increased buildup of gas, which may be a concern for some individuals.
Further studies have shown that Bimuno can support the immune system through its selective nourishment of bifidobacteria. Research highlights improve immune resilience in older individuals, as well a positive influence on inflammation.
Nutrition in the future
As the arena of prebiotics continues to grow, more individuals across the globe are electing to support the gut microbiome through dietary fibre. This means there is a heightened focus on what the future of nutrition could look like.
During the 'Ask an Expert' session, Per highlighted several key trends that could provide insight into supplements and functional foods in the future. The gut microbiome is an exciting field of study and will prove key to how we view health and wellness in the future.
Perhaps the most exciting route for exploration is the potential to include prebiotic ingredients in plant-based foods. As the market for plant-based foods grows, driven by a rising vegan population and greater awareness of nutritional advantages, the category is projected to enjoy a strong compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.9% to 2027, reflecting a global value of $74.2Bn.
With both the prebiotic and plant-based food sectors growing as a strong rate, there may be ample opportunity in the future to marry the two trends up onto one singular product.
Global Prebiotics Week is designed to get us thinking more in-depth about gut health, and the exciting technologies we can use to support it. It’s a great chance to get to know the science behind products such as Bimuno and find out more about their unique role in health and wellness.
As the prebiotic category continues to grow across the globe, there has never been a better time to explore what makes them so effective, and why our good gut bacteria are so essential to wellbeing.
Global Prebiotic Week may have finished – but the opportunities to learn are all year round! On Bimuno.com, we have a host of articles designed to support gut health knowledge and help everyone begin the journey towards a better-supported gut.
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