Special Edition: Botanicals

Unique botanical feedstock gives rise to promising prebiotic

By Hank Schultz contact

- Last updated on GMT

Botanicals are often thought of as powdered ingredients that go into tea-like preparations or find their way into capsules as powders or extracts. But botanical feedstocks can also give rise to other categories of ingredients, such as Prenexus Health’s new prebiotic ingredient.

Sugar cane is the root of Prenexus Health’s new ingredient, designated as XOS95. Sugar cane, as a source material, is also one of the sources of policosanol, a long chain alcohol that has been researched as a dietary ingredient that can support healthy blood lipid levels.

Proprietary cultivar of cane

In Prenexus’s case, the company contracts for a proprietary variety of high fiber cane grown in the Imperial Valley in California.

“It’s organic. It’s non-GMO. So it’s unique right from the feedstock,​ said Brad Saville, chief science officer for the company. Saville spoke with NutraIngredients-USA at the recent Expo West trade show in Anaheim, CA.

One of the issues that has swirled around purified fibers is the processing steps needed to liberate them from their feedstocks. Multistep extraction processes can be seen as a vulnerability in this era of an active plaintiff’s bar. Many of these chemical reactions, while familiar to food chemists, can be spun to seem alien, unfriendly and ‘unnatural’ when presented to consumers.

Saville said Prenexus has found a way around this conundrum. That is one of the things that made it attractive to DSM, which invested in the company in 2017. Prenexus is now constructing a full scale production plant in Gilbert, AZ.

“What’s also unique is how we process it. The only thing we add is water. Pure water. So we end up with a very clean, high purity ingredient,​ he said.

Another attractive aspect of the product, which chemically is defined as a xylooligosaccharide, is the strong suite of scientific evidence that Saville said Prenexus has on the ingredient. This includes data on positive laxation benefits as well as the generation of desirable short chain fatty acids in the gut.

Marketing on the prebiotic benefits

The data on these benefits helps the ingredient surmount another hurdle, that being the limbo that many purified fibers find themselves in after the release of FDA’s guidance on the definition of dietary fiber. The manufacturers of many purified fibers have now been put in the position of having to submit scientific dossiers to FDA to prove why their ingredients provide the benefits associated with dietary fiber and therefore ought to be allowed to be described as such.

But Saville said if you have evidence for prebiotic benefits, as Prenexus claims to have, you can market your ingredient on that action and leave the fiber question aside. The effective dose of XOS95 that has been studied is only 1.5 grams, which would not add much fiber punch to a label claim in any case.

“Prebiotics are unique and have important attributes of their own and can be marketed on those. Our prebiotic is something that is selective, effective and pure,​ he said.

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