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, the potential for using chicory root fibres in this area of digestive health cannot be underestimated.

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 between two and three stools per week). Participants were supplemented with three doses of 4g per 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 four-week period and after a two-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 well-being and satisfaction, evaluated by a validated quality of life questionnaire for constipated people.

The research design followed The European Food Safety Authority (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 two doses of 2g per day combination of BENEO’s Orafti® Inulin and Oligofructose, or placebo (maltodextrin), incorporated into yoghurt or fresh cheese, for a six-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 (between zero and two years old), there was previously limited data on their effectiveness in children between the ages of two to five 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.

Vice-president of regulatory affairs and nutrition communication at BENEO Anke Sentko 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-genetically modified organisms (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 differentiate them from others.