Microbiota composition matters

New research shows improved digestive health and strengthened defences in children after taking chicory root fibres

A recently published scientific study by Professor Tamás Decsi and Szminoetta Lohner at the Department of Paediatrics, University of Pécs, Hungary, has shown important health benefits in kindergarten children aged 3–6 years, as a result of consuming chicory root fibres. Inulin-type fructan supplementation in 3–6 year old children is associated with higher fecal bifidobacterial levels and fewer febrile episodes requiring medical attention.

Previous studies have demonstrated a strengthening of the natural defence system on infants and children between birth and 2 years of age. However, this is the first time this evidence has been established for this age group.

The human intervention study, which examined the supplementation of a daily dosage of 6 g of chicory root fibre during the autumn and winter period, demonstrated various health benefits amongst children.

These include improved gut microbiota composition, softer stools in a normal range and fewer incidences of infections in the group of 3–6 year old children. The study, conducted for 6 months with a double-blind, placebo controlled design, also confirmed that chicory root fibre was very well tolerated.

Regular intake of a dedicated composition of chicory root fibre, a variant of Orafti inulin, was found to support the gut microbiota of the children by increasing bifidobacterial and lactobacilli numbers. This resulted in lower numbers of fever episodes requiring a physician’s consultation and sinusitis in kindergarten children. In addition, the positive effect on digestive health was further supported by a softer stool consistency.

Acute infections, particularly in the winter season, are common in kindergarten children. The negative impact of the children’s poor well-being can be linked to increased health care costs and workday losses by the caretaking parent(s).

This latest research highlights that the risk of such infections can be reduced by incorporating chicory root fibre, Orafti inulin, into the daily diet of children to strengthen their defence forces and improve digestive health.

Anke Sentko, Vice President Regulatory Affairs and Nutrition Communication at Beneo, commented: “This study demonstrates the importance of healthy, prevention orientated eating also in this age group. By making small adjustments to your daily choices you can achieve significant improvements to your health status, from very early on."

"It also shows once again that your microbiota composition matters. With the chicory root fibre used in this study, we can strengthen their natural defence forces. These are very exciting results that can be achieved by these particular dietary fibres.”

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