Prebiotics and the health benefits of fiber: Current regulatory status, future research, and goals

Amy M. Brownawell, Wim Caers, Glenn R. Gibson, Cyril W.C. Kendall, Kara D. Lewis, Yehuda Ringel, Joanne L. Slavin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations

Abstract

First defined in the mid-1990s, prebiotics, which alter the composition and activity of gastrointestinal (GI) microbiota to improve health and well-being, have generated scientific and consumer interest and regulatory debate. The Life Sciences Research Organization, Inc. (LSRO) held a workshop, Prebiotics and the Health Benefits of Fiber: Future Research and Goals, in February 2011 to assess the current state of the science and the international regulatory environment for prebiotics, identify research gaps, and create a strategy for future research. A developing body of evidence supports a role for prebiotics in reducing the risk and severity of GI infection and inflammation, including diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, and ulcerative colitis as well as bowel function disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome. Prebiotics also increase the bioavailability and uptake of minerals and data suggest that they reduce the risk of obesity by promoting satiety and weight loss. Additional research is needed to define the relationship between the consumption of different prebiotics and improvement of human health. New information derived from the characterization of the composition and function of different prebiotics as well as the interactions among and between gut microbiota and the human host would improve our understanding of the effects of prebiotics on health and disease and could assist in surmounting regulatory issues related to prebiotic use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)962-974
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Volume142
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2012

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