Prof. Raylene Reimer (University of Calgary, Canada) spoke at the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo™ in Chicago in October 2017 on how a healthy gut microbiota can help you eat less and improve your metabolism. She explained how prebiotic chicory root fibers are an important tool in the fight against obesity, a topic of increasing relevance in light of the worldwide rise in obesity. The numbers of obese and overweight adults in the U.S. has doubled within the past 25 years – 42 % obesity and 33 % overweight.
New research suggests an imbalance in the gut microbiota may be connected to obesity.
Evidence is growing that prebiotics, who beneficially affect the gut microbiota, can not only improve appetite control and reduce body fat, but also reduce inflammation in the body and improve blood glucose control.
Studies by Prof. Reimer’s group demonstrated that metabolic diseases, like obesity, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease etc., can be positively influenced by a selective manipulation of the microbiota through the intake of prebiotic chicory root fibers, supporting a healthy microbiota.
Research shows that prebiotics help to:
- Control blood glucose levels
- Improve appetite control
- Decrease inflammation in the body
- Reduce body fat
A study conducted by the team of Prof. Reimer showed a halt in adult weight gain. After consuming 21 g of oligofructose per day for three months, the overweight or obese participants lost 1.1 kg body weight while the placebo group gained 0.5 kg body weight. Weight loss was primarily associated with reduction of trunk fat mass which can be especially detrimental for health. The subjects in the oligofructose group ate less and had a higher satiety feeling. This study demonstrates that the consumption of oligofructose can stop the slow persistent weight gain which affects most adults.
A further study on 7 – 12 year old obese or overweight children confirmed the beneficial effects of chicory root fiber supplementation on body weight and body composition. The children consumed 8 g of oligofructose enriched inulin (Orafti® Synergy1) over a period of four months. Both the placebo group and the Orafti® Synergy1 group gained weight, as expected, however the placebo group gained triple the expected yearly increase in weight whereas the prebiotic group met the expected increase in body weight. The children with the prebiotic treatment had an improved appetite control, consuming less calories.
Early life nutrition is important for health outcomes later in life. It is therefore worthwhile to look at the effects of prebiotics from the beginning and even during pregnancy. A healthy weight during pregnancy can protect the child’s health. Obesity or too much weight gain during pregnancy negatively changes the microbiota profile of the mother which can be passed on to the child and trigger susceptibility of diseases later on.
In a study on pregnant rats it was shown that their weight gain normalized after the addition of prebiotic fiber to the diet. As a result, the body fat in the offspring was normal.
Overall, the gut microbiota can be positively influenced by the food we eat. As the gut microbiota is well-established by the age of three, the earlier this happens, the better.
Check out Prof. Reimer’s final summarizing words in this short video clip.