Created by co-founders Alyssa Reid, Mohsin Laginaf, and Jay Curthan, ió fibrewater is the first product launched by The Prebiotic Company.
The founders of ió fibrewater discovered that prebiotic fibre, and in particular, chicory root fibre, otherwise known as inulin, feeds friendly bacteria, commonly referred to as probiotics.
“With numerous studies supporting improved sleep, mood, and digestive health issues, and the potential to boost the immune system, we were keen to see if chicory root fibre made a difference for us,” says Alyssa Reid, co-founder, ió fibrewater.
Re-imagining fibre with chicory root
The brand’s founders wanted to create a product that was innovative and different in using prebiotic fibre because of the amount of scientific evidence supporting its effects on health and wellbeing, its co-founders reveal. Many people who took part in its initial research associated fibre with ‘bits’, so the founders wanted to create a product that was ‘fibre re-imagined’.
“As fibre needs water to work properly to help with digestion, as well as being natural, no calories or carbs and something that we should all be consuming to boost health and wellness, water was the natural choice for combining with prebiotic fibre to create ió fibrewater,” says Reid.
The prebiotic water product contains ultra-purified water infused with soluble prebiotic fibre in the form of chicory root fibre and natural fruit flavour. It is this combination, the brand says, that enabled the founders to develop a clear, easy and enjoyable unique solution to boosting prebiotic and dietary fibre intake in addition to hydration.
“ió fibrewater is the first and only prebiotic water brand currently available in the UK, as each bottle provides 4.5g of chicory root fibre (100% of the recommended daily intake),” says Reid. The brand found that good gut bacteria love chicory root fibre, one of the few fibres they can feed on. “Most dietary fibres do not feed your friendly gut bacteria, but chicory root fibre does, and this helps to create improved gut health above and beyond that achievable with non-prebiotic fibre,” shares Reid.
Focusing on prebiotics in water
After carrying out research into prebiotic fibre, the brand found that functional ingredient developer and producer, Beneo, is a leader in the field, achieving two health claims on the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) register: one for supporting digestive health and one for lowering and slowing blood glucose rise.
ió fibrewater worked with food and drink experts, carried out a gap analysis of current drinks on the market, and discovered that the closest product to ió fibrewater, Get More Vits Fibre, was not prebiotic and contained artificial sweetener and artificial preservatives, it states. Noting that these are ingredients many consumers avoid, the brand spotted a gap in the market for a prebiotic water product.
The brand also carried out research regarding people’s perceptions of dietary fibre—identified as heavy, brown foods, higher in carbohydrates and calories— and found that 90% of adults in the UK weren’t achieving the recommended daily intake of 30 grammes, with the average intake for women being 17 grammes and men 21 grammes.
In working with healthcare practitioners, ió fibrewater discovered a significant prevalence of constipation and reliance on laxatives for children and adults. According to the NHS, the brand reports, one in three children and one in seven adults experience constipation at any one time. Creating a product that helped people get off the ‘laxative merry-go-round’, as one practitioner stated, was incredibly important to them, in addition to the other health benefits it saw prebiotic chicory root fibre offer.
It took several months to find a recipe development house that had experience with chicory root fibre, and then, due to Covid-19, the founders recipe taste tested remotely. In total, it took close to 15 months to finish the process and get its two flavours of Lemon & Lime and Strawberry completed to the standard it wanted.
The team worked through 27 recipes and a group of taste testers to ensure that the water was clear, had a smooth, refreshing taste, no aftertaste, wasn’t too sweet and was low in calories and carbohydrates, in addition to hitting the 20% of dietary and 100% of daily prebiotic fibre intake in one bottle.
ió fibrewater also notes it sourced natural ingredients to ensure that the product was as ‘clean’ as possible and had no artificial colours, flavours, preservatives or sweeteners and no added sugar or genetically-modified organism (GMO) ingredients.
Research continues to be a key component for the brand, it states, and it has just completed a survey with 21 participants trialling ió fibrewater for 12 days. “To date, the results have been incredibly positive regarding improved sleep, energy, mental clarity, mood, digestion, constipation, appetite, weight management and overall sense of wellbeing,” Reid shares.
Additionally, Dr John Butcher and Dr Ryan Kean of Glasgow Caledonian University recently completed a study on ió fibrewater in June 2022, which the brand notes will be published shortly. “The results proved that ió fibrewater was significantly better at promoting the growth of friendly bacteria when compared to regular flavoured water,” says Reid.
Within 48 hours of consumption, the brand states the research found that probiotic type Saccharomyces boulardii (S. boulardii) was 4,000,000,000% higher and Bacillus coagulans (B. coagulans) was 25,000% higher with ió fibrewater than with regular flavoured water. “These two friendly bacteria strains can help to boost the immune system and support digestive health,” states Reid.
Nutritional impact of prebiotic water
ió fibrewater delivers 100% of the recommended daily prebiotic fibre intake: 4.5 grams (g) per 500 millilitre (ml) bottle, the brand shares. While each bottle of ió fibrewater provides 20% of the daily recommended dietary fibre intake via its six grammes of fibre, 75% of this dietary fibre comes from chicory root fibre.
In comparison, the other 25% comes from non-GMO corn fibre. The non-GMO corn fibre is “a fibre source that is very soluble, and it helps ió fibrewater to be high in fibre while still retaining the same mouthfeel of regular bottled water,” says Reid.
There is no added sugar, the product contains 17 kilocalories (kcal) and six grams of carbohydrates per 500ml bottle.
“ió fibrewater can therefore contribute to consumers’ calls for nutritious choices by providing a source of both dietary and prebiotic fibre while having a minimal impact on the consumers’ calories, carbohydrates and sugar intake [as] there’s just 0.8g of sugar per bottle,” Reid details.
“Often with functional food products, consumers may be getting added protein, fibre or vitamins but this comes in a food or drink product that is high in sugar or contains artificial ingredients,” says Reid.