Maintaining gut health is essential for all of us throughout our lifecycle. Prebiotics support the body’s natural defenses,1-3 improve the absorption of key minerals4-6 in our diet and promote digestive comfort.7-9
Prebiotics are also helping to meet the rising challenges within the animal husbandry industry. They can play an important role in managing the increasing global demand for protein and pressure to improve animal welfare whilst reducing the over-reliance on antibiotics.
Probiotics are live, ‘friendly’ bacteria that create a more favourable gut environment, thereby supporting a healthy digestive tract.10
Prebiotics feed these ‘friendly’ bacteria found within the large intestine, encouraging them to thrive and helping to maintain a healthy gut.11-13
We all come into contact with harmful bacteria every day and some may be ingested in the food we eat. A healthy digestive system is essential as it is the body’s first line of defence against infection
• It stimulates the production of mucin to line the gut, providing an effective barrier31
• Helping friendly bacteria, especially Bifidobacteria, to thrive and outcompete harmful bacteria12,15,16
• Reducing the pH in the gut, an acidic environment is more hostile to harmful bacteria16,32
• Exerting an antimicrobial effect which kills harmful bacteria (a ‘natural antibiotic effect’)22,23
• GOS ‘directly’ modulates the immune system through its interaction with the epithelial cells in the gut wall and also helps to improve gut cell health30
• GOS in conjunction with Bifidobacteria has been shown to suppress intestinal allergic inflammation33
• GOS has a potential role in helping to reverse age-related changes to the bacteria in the gut.34,35 In healthy elderly people (67-88 years), a decrease in ‘friendly’ bacteria has been shown to be common.36 These changes can alter the effective functioning of the gut.36 Some studies show that age-associated changes in the composition of the bacteria can cause inflammation, which can lead to inflammatory diseases. Including GOS in the diet can help to reduce age-associated inflammation.37
Adapted from reference 31
By helping to ensure healthy epithelial cells and by lowering the pH in the gut to make it more acidic, GOS improves mineral absorption:
Calcium has several important functions that include helping build strong bones and teeth, regulating muscle contractions (including the heartbeat) and ensuring blood clots normally.
Iron is important in making the red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body. A shortage of iron can lead to iron deficiency anaemia.
Zinc is important for the normal functioning of the immune system. Zinc also helps make new cells and aids wound healing.
Magnesium is essential for many processes in the body, including regulating muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure. It also reduces tiredness and improves psychological function.
GOS improves gut motility, in other words ‘keeping regular’, helps avoid constipation, diarrhoea and associated problems.7-9
This can be particularly important in the elderly. As we age we become less active, reduce our fluid intake and eat a less well balanced diet. This combination of events often causes constipation.