The Healthy-Ageing Powers Of Prebiotic Fibre

Thursday, October 8th, 2020

There is no better time than now for manufacturers to introduce their consumers to fibre-enhanced and tasty products that can help them live longer yet healthier lives.

Christian Philippsen, Managing Director at BENEO Asia Pacific


Adding healthy years to our life is a public health goal and a personal goal for every one of us. As the ageing process begin from birth, our eating and lifestyle habits are strongly influencing the way we age.

The good news is we are on the right track—humans are increasingly living longer due to advancements in medical science and improved living conditions. However, the burden of diet-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is a threat to our public health systems and to each individual. In combination with the fact that 25 percent of people (1.3 billion) in Asia will be older than 60 by 2050, up more than 12 percent in 2016, the challenges of this near future are grim. This is all the more evident in a recent study which found that while Singaporeans may now be the world’s longest living people, they are also living a slightly longer proportion of their life in ill health. 

So how can we help ourselves live longer, healthier lives?


Healthy Nutrition Goes Beyond Traditional Essentials

The usual lifestyle recommendations we hear about such as quitting smoking, drinking less alcohol and ensuring we get at least 60 to 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week are an important part of daily schedules. While these are good habits to cultivate, a healthy and balanced diet plays a decisive role in ensuring we age healthily; however, it is also much more complex.

Traditionally, nutrition-related recommendations focused on making sure that enough essential vitamins and minerals along with a balanced amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates are consumed. For dietary fibres, it is alarming to note that the intake is only half of what it should be in most countries around the world. 

Another important thing to take note of is to pay more attention to your microbiota, i.e. those microorganisms that are living in the large intestine. In particular, it is important to promote the good, beneficial ones in their growth. Only very few dietary fibres have this capability and are scientifically and clinically proven prebiotics. Chicory root fibre (inulin, oligofructose) belong to this exclusive group of particular fermentable fibres. 

According to a study in the Journals of Gerontology, older people who have fibre-rich diets were 80 percent more likely to live longer and stay healthier than those who did not. 


Prebiotic Fibres Beneficially Impact The Gut Microbiome

Studies reported age-related changes of the gut microbiome may not only influence digestive health but also the immune response. Influencing the bacterial imbalances by prebiotic dietary fibres may be a very useful dietary support for the elderly, as imbalances are typically associated with the development of a number of diseases. 

Latest literature supports the existence of a gut-muscle axis where metabolites of the bacterial breakdown of fermentable dietary fibres may have stimulating effects on muscle cells and thus a positive influence of sarcopenia. Also improvements of frailty related to age, measured in inhabitants of nursing homes being 65 and older, showed significant improvement. 


Using Prebiotic Fibres To Improve Gut Health & Digestive Well-Being

In all phases of age, avoiding constipation by supporting normal bowel movements is appreciated. This can happen by improving frequency per week and softness of the stools. With age, the concerns related to weak gut barrier functions and leaky guts increase. 

Prebiotic chicory root fibre can support the maintenance of normal gut functions as they positively influence the inner gut environment, nourish the epithelium of the large intestine, stimulate bowel movement to increase the number of stools per week and make stools softer to avoid straining.


Increasing Calcium Absorption For Healthier Bones

We lose bone mass as we age. Many published studies show that low calcium intake is linked to low bone mass and an increased risk of fractures, especially as we get older. Unfortunately, Asia’s calcium intake is alarmingly low. 

It is a commonly known fact that consuming calcium-rich foods is important for bone health, since the human body does not produce its own calcium. However, most people absorb only about 30 percent of dietary calcium, while the rest is excreted. 

One way that food manufacturers can help improve bone health is by boosting calcium absorption using a patented mix of inulin and oligofructose, such as BENEO’s Orafti Synergy. It leads to the production of short-chain fatty acids in the large intestine, which acidifies the entire large intestine and thus increasing the bioavailability of calcium so that more calcium can be absorbed. 


Maintaining A Healthy Weight With The Help Of Fibre

Weight management today is a topic that affects all age groups. As we age, it becomes worse as hormonal changes influence weight gain. The good news is this is something that we can change through regular exercise and by making better food choices.  

High fibre foods tend to be more filling than low fibre foods. However, prebiotic fermentable fibre, as demonstrated with chicory root fibre inulin and oligofructose, additionally introduces the function of activating satiety hormones that provide signals to the brain and influence the hunger-satiety regulation. Chicory root fibre naturally helps you to eat less. They can help put a halt to weight gain, better manage blood sugar and even reduce body weight and body fat mass—increasingly important as we get older.

Chicory root fibres can also help consumers eat more fibre and maintain a healthy weight in the long term. Next to adding a valuable and natural source of fibre, they also enable manufacturers to reduce the overall caloric value of their offerings by replacing partial fat and sugar. Due to a mild, natural taste and texturizing properties, they can be easily incorporated while maintaining or even improving taste and texture. Chicory root fibre provide only half the calories of carbohydrates. They allow food manufacturers to produce lighter versions of traditionally indulgent food products such as ice cream, cookies, diary products or smoothies that consumers do not want to give up when following a healthier eating regime.

There is no better time than now for manufacturers to introduce their consumers to fibre-enhanced and tasty products that can help them live longer yet healthier lives. Natural prebiotic fibres like inulin and oligofructose can be easily incorporated into existing recipes and help manufacturers appeal to consumers looking to age healthily.


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