“This study verifies previous reports that soluble and fermentable fructans provide a laxation benefit for healthy human participants with a diet that doesn’t provide adequate fiber,” the researchers wrote in their paper, published in the journal Nutrients.
They argued that inadequate dietary fiber intake contributes to the prevalenrt irregularity and constipation in Western countries.
In fact, fiber intake of Americans are only around half of the recommended amount, with a mean intake of 17 g per day and only 5% of the population meeting adequate intake of 25 to 30 g per day, according to a position paper by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics published in 2015.
The randomized, placebo-controlled trial was funded by German ingredient manufacturer BENEO GmbH, which markets a chicory root oligofructose ingredient called Orafti.
Study design: Orafti vs. maltodextrin placebo
Adults aged 18 to 65 years were recruited. To qualify, participants had to have a body mass index of 35 or under, one to three reported bowel movements per week, not taking fiber supplements or medications for constipation, and habitually consuming a routine diet that has 50% or less of the recommended dietary fiber intake. A total of 97 participants completed the study.
The study started with a three-week run-in phase where all of the participants consumed a placebo of 5 g maltodextrin. The placebo was dissolved in a drink taken with main meals. After the run-in phase, stool samples were collected. The next phase started immediately and included three consecutive four-week periods, in which participants were divided into a placebo group (48 participants) or Orafti group (49 participants).
The placebo group consumed only the maltodextrin powder, three times per day, throughout the study period. Meanwhile, the Orafti group consumed the fiber supplement in three sachets per day with dosages increased for each four-week period, starting at 1.67 g of Orafti per sachet to 5 g per sachet of Orafti at the last period.
Bowel movements per weel for the Orafti group and placebo group were initially similar. By the end of the study, there were no changes in the placebo group, but increased for the Orafti group with the most significant difference noted at the 15 g per day period. Stool consistency was similar and remained unchanged at all doses for both groups.
Additionally, laxation benefits were especially pronounced for participants with more than 13 g per day of dietary fiber intake, with significant laxation at 10 g and 15 g of Orafti per day.
“Our study definitively showed that bowel regularity is one of the many health effects gained from the prebiotic fermentation of chicory root fibers,” said Professor Randal Buddington, lead researcher of the study who is now at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center.
“A daily supplementation with oligofructose not only increased dietary fiber and significantly improved bowel regularity but also did so without causing gastrointestinal distress.”
“Chicory root fibers can improve digestive well-being in various ways and help to bridge the fiber gap. These soluble, non-viscous and fermentable fibers are proven prebiotics and thus naturally improving the microbiota composition in the gut,” said Anke Sentko, BENEO-Institute vice president of regulatory affairs and nutrition communication.
Published online, doi:10.3390/nu9121372
Oligofructose Provides Laxation for Irregularity Associated with Low Fiber Intake
Randal K. Buddington, Cavita Kapadia, Franka Neumer, and Stephan Theis