Inulin, a highly studied prebiotic
December 13, 2016
by Laurie Gorton
Recent scientific research proves the worth of inulin in the diets of children and prediabetics.
Inulin is, no doubt, the most studied of all prebiotics, the food ingredients that work with probiotic cultures to aid health and wellness. Jon Peters, president of BENEO, Inc., Morris Plains, NJ, explains how this research can benefit formulators of baked foods and snacks in this exclusive Baking & Snack Q&A session.
Baking & Snack: What is the latest news about inulin’s role as a fiber health and wellness? How does it figure into satiety? What other benefits has it been linked to and why?
Jon Peters: BENEO’s chicory root fibers inulin and oligofructose have been the subject of more than 20 years of nutrition research and are the best-researched dietary fibers worldwide. The studies provide a comprehensive body of evidence. To date, more than 150 high-quality human intervention studies for inulin and oligofructose are available. These studies deliver strong evidence for distinct health benefits, including digestive health , weight management , blood glucose management and bone health .
BENEO’s chicory root fiber is one of the few proven prebiotics worldwide. Several studies, approximately 45, have consistently demonstrated that chicory root fiber consumption influences gut microbiota composition and results in higher counts of bifidobacteria, supporting digestive health as well as bowel regularity .
Prebiotic chicory root fibers are highly successful in the area of weight management.
A very recent research study , conducted by professor Gary Frost and his team from Imperial College London and funded by Diabetes UK, have shown beneficial effects of BENEO’s chicory root fiber OraftiSynergy1 in helping pre-diabetic people to lower energy intake and enhance weight loss. This is the first time that regular Orafti Synergy1 supplementation has been confirmed, in the pre-diabetic population, as enhancing a traditional calorie-restricted lifestyle program that leads to greater weight loss.
Another study conducted by the research team of professor Raylene Reimer from the University of Calgary in Canada, released in May 2015, shows that the prebiotic chicory root fiber OraftiSynergy1 from BENEO improves appetite regulation and decreases food intake in overweight and obese children, helping those children to eat less, naturally.
Earlier research in this series, including several human intervention studies with the prebiotic chicory root fibers Orafti P95 and OraftiSynergy1, also provided positive evidence for the parameters relevant to assessing the potential of an ingredient to contribute to weight management. This included subjective appetite rating,satiety regulation on hormonal basis, energy intake over the long-term covering potential compensation aspects and body weight and body composition.
Additionally, it’s becoming more evident that good gut bacteria play a significant role in this fiber’s prebiotic fermentation. Bacterial metabolites are signals to the brain that regulate hunger and satiety. A team of researchers led by professor Frost is currently doing research on this topic.
The effects of being overweight or obese are a main health concern in the US, according to Ipsos Consumer Research from 2016. About one in three consumers are concerned with this issue. As a result, the interest in food and beverage products supporting weight control and energy management is expected to grow.
What can inulin do for formulating baked foods and snacks that other forms of fiber cannot?
The BENEO range of chicory root fibers is unrivalled in the realm of low-viscosity fibers in terms of versatility and product variant for a multitude of technical applications. The BENEO portfolio of chicory root fibers gives developers the widest choice possible. Being soluble and having a mild sweet taste, BENEO’s chicory fiber inulin and oligofructose are easily incorporated into a wide range of bakery and cereal products while maintaining or even improving taste and texture. For example, in cereal bars BENEO’s oligofructose or inulin add a mild sweet taste, reduces sugar and calories while adding fiber and contributing to digestive health. Additionally, they act as a humectant, helping the product maintain moisture over time.
Do these ingredients bring clean-label benefits to bakery or snack formulations? What are they?
Yes, BENEO’s prebiotic chicory fibers are clean label. It is all natural. Chicory root fiber is isolated by a gentle hot water extraction method. Additionally, the chicory plant can be considered an ancient ingredient, because it was part of the everyday diet in Roman times. With consumer focus moving towards “all things natural,” BENEO’s chicory fibers are “on trend.”
Please also describe your recent product introductions in the chicory root fiber category. What do they offer to formulators?
BENEO is constantly working on new solutions and formulations. One of the most recent technical trials analyzed the development of a sugar-reduced multi-cereal biscuits. In the diet, 75% of all the added sugars intake is coming from sweet bakery applications, dairy desserts and confectionery items.
 Guess et al. (2015). A randomized controlled trial: the effect of inulin on weight management and ectopic fat in subjects with prediabetes. Nutr Metab 12:36.
 Hume, M.; Nicolucci, A.; and Reimer, R. (2015). Prebiotic fiber consumption decreases energy intake in overweight and obese children. The FASEB Journal Vol 29 No.1, Supplement, Abstract 597.3 and presentation handout.
 Nicolucci, A.; Hume, M.; and Reimer, R. (2015). Effect of Prebiotic Fiber-Induced Changes in Gut Microbiota on Adiposity in Obese and Overweight Children. The FASEB Journal Vo. 29, No. 1 Supplement 276.6 and presentation handout.