A lot has been written about probiotics over recent years, but there is not the same awareness about prebiotics.
For HCPs who are aware of the importance of prebiotics, it was generally assumed that enough was obtained through the diet. Prebiotics are an important nutrient in the diet as they provide a substrate for beneficial bacteria in the gut microbiome.
All prebiotics are fibre but not all fibre is prebiotic and consumption of this type of fibre through diet alone is low in the UK. This was highlighted by the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) in 2018 which estimated that only 9% of adults in the UK eat the recommended 30g of fibre a day1, which includes 5g of prebiotic fibre.2
This significant gap between recommended dietary intake and actual intake of prebiotic fibre poses a public health issue given the established and emerging research linking the gut microbiome to many areas of health. Given the established and emerging research linking the gut microbiome to many areas of health, this is an important area of nutritional advice.
In order to provide clarity to HCPs and to raise awareness of the science and research behind prebiotics, in 2018 Clasado asked the British Nutrition Foundation to write a literature review.3
Below is the abstract from the paper and a link to get full access to this area is below it.
Prebiotics – an added benefit of some fibre types
Prebiotics are food components that are selectively used by gut bacteria, conferring a health benefit, most notably stimulating the growth of Bifidobacteria. Accepted prebiotics at present are the fibre types galacto-oligosaccharides, fructo-oligosaccharides and inulin, some forms of which occur naturally in foods such as pulses, grains, fruit and vegetables. Prebiotics can also be isolated and produced commercially for use as functional ingredients and supplements. The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the place of prebiotics in a healthy, balanced diet, to explore potential health effects, particularly in relation to gut health, and to consider whether there are implications of consuming a diet low in prebiotics. Dietary fibre is important for health, with high-fibre diets reducing risk of several chronic diseases, via its effects on bowel function, gut microbiota, and cholesterol and glycaemic levels. The prebiotic effects of some fibre types may contribute to these effects. Evidence from supplementation studies carried out in humans suggests that consumption of prebiotics may confer an array of health benefits such as cholesterol lowering, relief of symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders, increased satiety and immunomodulatory effects, though more studies are needed. Findings from observational and intervention studies indicate that exclusion diets, such as low-carbohydrate, gluten-free and the low Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols (FODMAPs) diet, result in changes to the gut microbiota such as reduced abundance of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species, though whether or not there are any long-term health implications remains unknown. Studies investigating whether prebiotic supplements may be useful in conjunction with such diets (when these are required for medical reasons) to help restore levels of bacteria that are considered to be beneficial are warranted. Overall, there is a need to promote high-fibre foods across the UK population as intakes currently fall well below recommendations.
Click here to access the full literature review
This significant gap between recommended dietary intake and actual intake of prebiotic fibre poses a public health issue given the established and emerging research linking the gut microbiome to many areas of health.