Meta-analysis supports prebiotic effect for chicory root fibre

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© RuudMorijn / Getty Images
© RuudMorijn / Getty Images

Related tags Inulin chicory Prebiotics Gut health oligofructose Fructooligosaccharide bifidobacteria bowel function

Data from 50 human intervention studies supports the efficacy of chicory root fibre intake to promote Bifidobacteria growth in the gut in all age groups and improves bowel function.

The new systematic literature review with meta-analyses, conducted by scientists from the University of Pécs in Hungary and Beneo, included data from 2,495 people aged between 0 and 83, and assessed the efficacy of chicory root fibre in doses ranging from three to 20 grams per day.

“To the best of our knowledge, our systematic review and meta-analysis is the first overview on RCTs investigating the effect of chicory-derived inulin-type fructan supplementation on gut Bifidobacterium abundance, as well as health-related outcomes both in healthy subjects and in individuals with various diseases,” ​wrote the authors, led by Dávid Nagy.

“Our results indicate that chicory-derived inulin type fructans may have selective bifidogenic effects. In specific subgroups of healthy subjects, bifidogenic effects are probably accompanied by increased stool frequency and softer stool consistency,” ​they added.

The systematic review with meta-analyses demonstrates that inulin-type fructans derived chicory root match the ISAPP (International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics) definition of prebiotics: “A substrate that is selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit”.​ (Gibson et al. 2017, Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology)


Commenting on the findings, Anke Sentko, vice president regulatory affairs & nutrition communication at Beneo, which funded the work, said: “I am extremely pleased that this detailed critical systematic review with meta-analyses has been conducted.

“Following the highest quality scientific evidence methodology, the prebiotic effect of inulin-type fructans sourced from the chicory root is confirmed. It yet again shows that integrating chicory root fibres into a person’s daily diet supports Bifidobacteria and thus their gut microbiome, while also improving the bowel functions of the very young to the very old."

Systematic review and meta-analysis

Nagy and his co-workers followed the guidelines of the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews and Interventions.

Fifty randomized controlled studies with humans of all age and health conditions were identified for inclusion in the review and meta-analysis.

The data showed that inulin, oligofructose and combinations thereof, derived from the chicory root elicited significant bifidogenic effects in healthy individuals and in populations with health impairments, except people with gastrointestinal disorders.

The bifidogenic effects of the chicory root fibres, which were observed across all doses ranging from 3 to 20 g/d, were accompanied by improved bowel regularity, said the reviewers. This was validated by increased stool frequency in healthy adults, and by softer stools in healthy infants and children.

“This effect is measurable after seven days of supplementation, and is maintained over longer periods of supplementation,”​ they noted.

The reviewers called for additional large randomized clinical trials involving people with different health conditions to “increase our confidence in the present findings”.

Source: Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2022.2098246
“Effect of chicory-derived inulin-type fructans on abundance of Bifidobacterium and on bowel function: a systematic review with meta-analyses”
Authors: D.U. Nagy et al.

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