Assessing the science supporting the use of prebiotics to rebalance and maintain health

Strategic Vision

It is the task force’s ambition to provide recommendations for beneficial prebiotics usage for various target groups.

Background

A prebiotic is a food ingredient that selectively stimulates growth and/or the activity of microbial species inhabiting the host, and that confers health benefits to the host.

Objectives

  • Improve the understanding of mechanisms of prebiotics (e.g. structure-function correlation) and provide mechanistic insights linking prebiotics to individual health benefits.
  • Identify and explore the health benefits of prebiotic fermentation (gut-brain, gut-kidney, gut-liver, metabolic syndrome).

Achieved Results

Within the framework of the activity on ‘Short Chain Fatty Acids for Health’, the Prebiotics Task Force organised a workshop on ‘The Role of Gut Derived Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) in Human Health’ on 28-29 November 2018 in Brussels.

The conclusions of the SCFA workshop will be presented at Food Matters Live 2019.

Scientific Impact

  • The recent publication on ‘Gut Microbiota Functions: Metabolism of Nutrients and Other Food Components’ (Rowland et al., 2017) and the ‘Systematic Review of The Effects of The Intestinal Microbiota on Selected Nutrients and Non-Nutrients’ (Shortt et al., 2017) have been cited 175 times.
  • The collaboration with the Probiotics Task Force resulted in a Concise Monograph (N. Binns 2013) that summarises the science and principles valid for prebiotics, probiotics and synbiotics today. This publication is often used as teaching material by students and SMEs.
  • The publication ‘Prebiotic Effects: Metabolic and Health Benefits’ (Roberfroid et al., 2010) summarising beneficial health effects of specific prebiotics consumption has been cited 1,353 times.

For more detailed information, please contact Dr Michela Miani at mmiani@ilsieurope.be

Task Force Members

Expert Groups

Revealing the Mechanistic Role in Human Physiology and Beneficial Aspects of Short Chain Fatty Acid (SCFA) Production in the Gastro-Intestinal Tract (GIT)

Background & Objectives

Increased SCFA production from prebiotic consumption is considered as (part of) the mechanism by which prebiotics exert beneficial effects on gut health and metabolic function. Since SCFA production is often not considered as a health benefit as such, this activity is intended to:

  • review and evaluate coherent evidence of the beneficial action(s) of SCFAs;
  • clarify whether it is scientifically justified and appropriate to consider alterations in SCFA production as a health benefit/ biomarker;
  • obtain a consensus view on microbial SCFA formation as a benefit for human physiology.

The task force organised the workshop ‘The Role of Gut Derived Short Chain Fatty Acids in Human Health’ (28-29 November, Brussels, Belgium) with an enlarged panel of multidisciplinary experts in which the expert group’s conclusion on SCFA production in relation to health were refined.

The communication and dissemination of the conclusions will provide guidance facilitating the design and interpretation of academic and industrial prebiotic research. Furthermore, the consensus may support the development of health claims (procedures) on prebiotics.

Understand the Relationship Between the Molecular Structure and the Effects of Prebiotic Compounds on Microbiota and its Metabolites

Background & Objectives

Prebiotic compounds display great variability and so far, no clear conclusion regarding structure-function relationship has been drawn.

The activity is not restricted to the definition of prebiotics but generally considers fermentable carbohydrates (prebiotics, candidate prebiotics and oligosaccharides). The aims of this activity are:

  • To determine the relationship between specific structure characteristics of fermentable carbohydrates and the impact on the composition and activity of the gut microbiota;
  • To investigate the metabolic capacity of human gut microbiota;
  • to consider potential direct effects of the fermentable carbohydrates on the host (without being fermented first) as a secondary objective.

Output

The outcome from this activity, in the form of a peer-reviewed paper, will support the understanding how carbohydrate bioengineering tools to manufacture next generation prebiotics for lifelong health can be reasonably applied.

Joint Nutrition Cluster Activity on ‘Mechanistic Insights into the Gut-Brain Axis’ – In collaboration with Early-Life and Long-Term Health; Health Benefits Assessment of Foods; Nutrition, Immunity & Inflammation; Nutrition & Mental Performance and Probiotics Task Forces  New

Background & Objectives
Currently, half of the literature available on the gut-brain axis is state-of-the-art reviews or correlative studies and comprehensive mechanistic insights underlining the bidirectional communication between the gut and the brain are lacking.
In this context, several Nutrition Task Forces decided to join forces to understand where we stand today regarding the mechanisms and more specifically to:

  • focus on translational aspects from pre-clinical to clinical studies;
  • focus on lifespan-related changes (but not disease-related) in gut structure and function which play a role in long-term immune and brain health;
  • discuss the nutritional and lifestyle interventions with positive impact on the lifespan gut structure/function and thus on immune and brain health.

Output
A workshop will bring together key experts from different fields of expertise to debate and discuss on the current knowledge and data gaps, followed by a live-streamed debate leading to the publication of a report/position paper. A series of webinars will then be organised to discuss the identified gaps in more details.

Expert Group Members

Revealing the Mechanistic Role in Human Physiology and Beneficial Aspects of Short Chain Fatty Acid (SCFA) Production in the Gastro-Intestinal Tract (GIT)



Understand the Relationship Between the Molecular Structure and the Effects of Prebiotic Compounds on Microbiota and its Metabolites

Joint Nutrition Cluster Activity on ‘Mechanistic Insights into the Gut-Brain Axis’In collaboration with Early-Life and Long-Term Health; Health Benefits Assessment of Foods; Nutrition, Immunity & Inflammation; Nutrition & Mental Performance and Probiotics Task Forces – New

Posters

Understanding the Prebiotics Metabolic and Health Effects

Publications

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