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‘Second generation’ prebiotic shows potential against metabolic syndrome

By Stephen DANIELLS , 18-Feb-2013

Daily supplements of a novel mixture of prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides may boost gut health and immune function and help reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome, UK researchers report.

The mixture, patented and available commercially from Clasado under the brand name Bimuno, was shown to boost bifidobacteria bacteria populations, reduce markers of inflammation, cholesterol levels, and benefit the immune system in overweight adults, according to data published in The Journal of Nutrition.

“There has been little conclusive research so far into the biological mechanisms causing Metabolic Syndrome, given the diversity and size of the human microbiome,” said Dr. Jelena Vulevic from the University of Reading, UK and lead author of the paper.

“Greater understanding of these areas will contribute towards providing personalized nutrition that includes functional food ingredients targeting the microbiota. This will help prevent or delay the development of many current disorders such as metabolic syndrome, functional gut disorders or stress related disorders.”

Metabolic syndrome refers to a cluster of conditions including high blood pressure, raised blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist or low HDL (the good cholesterol) and increased blood triglycerides – all of which are known to significantly increase the risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are defined as "nondigestible substances that provide a beneficial physiological effect on the host by selectively stimulating the favourable growth or activity of a limited number of indigenous bacteria".

Bimuno has previously been hailed as a 'second generation' prebiotic , since it not only boosts probiotic bacteria at a group level, but also offers additional functionality by inhibiting the adhesion of 'bad' bacteria to the gut wall.

In an email to NutraIngredients-USA, Prof Glenn Gibson, a world-renowned prebiotic expert at the University of Reading and co-author on the paper, said: "We undertook this study because of recent evidence showing that the gut microbiota of lean and obese people differs. If this is the case, then the situation can potentially be altered through dietary intervention targeting particular groups of gut bacteria.

"We used a prebiotic approach (galactooligosaccharides) that had been successfully applied to previous human trials. We saw a prebiotic effect, which was not surprising but were also very pleased to see that certain markers of the metabolic syndrome were positively affected (increased secretory IgA, decreased faecal calprotectin, and plasma levels of C-reactive protein, insulin, triglyceride, and total cholesterol (TC), and TC-to-HDL cholesterol ratios).

"We plan further studies into weight management, including conditions like diabetes."

Study details

Dr Vulevic and her colleagues recruited 45 overweight people with at least 3 risk factors for metabolic syndrome to participate in their double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover study.

During the first 12 weeks, volunteers were randomly assigned to consume either 5.5 grams of placebo (maltodextrin) daily or the same amount of Bimuno-GOS. After a 4-week ‘washout period’, each subject was crossed over to the other intervention for an additional 12 weeks.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that has looked at the effect of an non-digestible oligosaccharide on such components in overweight humans,” they explained.

Results showed that the prebiotic intervention was associated with an increase in the number of fecal bifidobacteria at the expense of less desirable groups of bacteria.

In addition, levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation, decreased significantly after 12 weeks of Bimuno supplementation.

Improvements in triglyceride levels, total cholesterol levels, the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol, and insulin levels were observed following 12 weeks of prebiotic supplementation.

“Dietary intervention using B-GOS is not only an attractive option for enhancement of both the gastrointestinal and immune systems in overweight individuals, but it is also potentially beneficial in reducing some of the markers of metabolic syndrome independent of other lifestyle changes, which could be of particular importance in ameliorating the disorders associated with metabolic syndrome,” concluded the researchers.

Combating MetS

Geoff Collins, head of consumer marketing for Clasado, welcomed the results. “Poor diet and inactive lifestyles in the western world continue to increase the prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome, already affecting 25% of those in the US and UK, and resulting in cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancers,” he said.

“It is critical to understand how modifying the gut microbiota and immune system can affect this. We are delighted that Clasado’s Bimuno might be able to contribute to combating Metabolic Syndrome.”

The study was funded by Clasado.

Source: The Journal of Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi:10.3945/jn.112.166132
“A Mixture of trans-Galactooligosaccharides Reduces Markers of Metabolic Syndrome and Modulates the Fecal Microbiota and Immune Function of Overweight Adults”
Authors: J. Vulevic, A. Juric, G. Tzortzis, G.R. Gibson

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