Mark Thurston, president of AIDP, which supplies PreticX, a prebiotic ingredient, spoke with NutraIngredients-USA about the survey, whose complete results with be released at the upcoming Institute of Food Technologists show in Chicago later this month. But the top line results of the poll, which was commissioned by AIDP, were encouraging, he said.
Word is getting out
The poll of 400 dietary supplement users revealed that more than 38% would be very likely or somewhat likely to try a prebiotic with strong digestive and immune health benefits, if the product were science-validated by a research conducted at and published by a major university. The survey also showed that 44% of these consumers had tried a probiotic supplement.
Further results showed that more than 60% of respondents would be interested in buying a product that contained both a prebiotic and a probiotic. Thurston said this reflects the rapidly developing body of scientific research leading to a better understanding of the role of these ingredients in digestive and immune wellness.
Respondents most frequently associated the word “prebiotic” with the terms “healthy,” “digestion,” “bacteria” and “help.”
Thurston said that the questions were carefully vetted by the survey vendor to make sure they were not leading the answers in any way. For that reason, he believes the word is getting out about prebiotics and what they can do.
“We did not explain what prebiotic or probiotic was in the first two questions in which we used these terms. Therefore I believe the message is getting through but much more needs to be done,” he said.
Hetero- and homo-synbiotics
Dietary fiber has long been recommended by dietitians and gastroenterologists as a healthy and necessary part of a balanced diet and it has often been observed that North Americans in particular are deficient in this important nutrient. From a recommendation of simple overall intake suppliers such as AIDP have focused on purified fibers backed by specific clinical studies. This evidence backs the concept of ‘synbiotics,’ that is, pairing prebiotic fibers with probiotic organisms in a combination gut health product. The original idea was that a prebiotic could be paired with the type of organism it preferentially feeds, leading to a claim of heightened benefits.
PreticX is an xylooligosaccharide that is derived from the cobs of organically grown, non GMO corn, and AIDP has evidence showing that the ingredient preferentially supports the growth of bifidobacteria, but that does not mean that that is the only application. In this Thurston makes a differentiation between hetero- and homo-synbiotics. The inclusion of a prebiotic fiber with probiotic organisms, even if they are not the sort that the prebiotic preferentially supports, could also lead to a claim of supporting greater overall microbiome diversity, which has also been shown in recent research to be one of the hallmarks of a healthy gut.
“If you have probiotic species in a formulation combined with a prebiotic which feeds those probiotic species then this is a homo-synbiotic. If you combine probiotics with a prebiotic that feeds other species that is a hetero-synbiotic. For example, we have customers combining lactobacteria with XOS, which will boost the bifido in the consumer,” he said.
Thurston said using a branded ingredient gives customers confidence that it is backing by credible evidence and has the correct regulatory approvals.
“PreticX brings comfort to the consumer that this is the product that has gone through FDA NDI approval and has both safety and clinical studies and is not a generic XOS from any other source,” he said.