The Asian diet is filled with fermented ingredients such as fermented cabbage (kimchi), fermented soy beans (miso), and salted duck eggs just to name a few. Not surprisingly, Asia-Pacific is expected to be the fastest-growing market for the global microbial food culture market between 2017-2022.
Fermented foods are naturally rich in probiotics, which are good bacteria that aid in digestion. An additional way of improving gut health is through prebiotics. While probiotics introduce foreign bacteria into the gut, prebiotics act as ‘fertilizers’ that promote the growth of good bacteria already present in our bodies.
Prebiotics are naturally available in some foods such as onions, garlic or bananas, but are typically present only at low levels. This is why foods enriched with prebiotics and prebiotic supplements are the best way for consumers to conveniently and efficiently increase their prebiotic intake for a healthier digestive system.
Bad lifestyle habits affect gut health
Gut health is essential for us to lead a healthy life, as the small and large intestines help our bodies absorb the nutrients it needs to run smoothly. However, bad eating habits like consuming large quantities of fatty foods, and drinking too much caffeinated or carbonated sugary drinks, can lead to the depletion of healthy gut bacteria, especially as we age.
Furthermore, more people are living fast-paced, busy lifestyles these days due to rapid urbanization. This also means that many are leaning towards convenient, easy-to-consume foods that are usually highly processed, laden with saturated fat and/ or sugar, and low in fibre – in other words, foods that neither promote gut health nor contribute to overall wellbeing.
Studies have linked the lack of our dietary fibre intake to health issues like obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease. In Asia, one of the most common dietary problems is digestive discomfort, which includes symptoms like constipation and bloating. Although health authorities recommend a daily fibre intake of about 25g for adults, many consumers only manage to take in about half of what is required. This lack of fibre can lead to ‘lazy and silent guts’, as the intake is too low to move digestion processes along.
Helping consumers eat smarter
Manufacturers have been boosting the fibre content of their food products using functional fibres, which helps consumers increase fibre intake without the need for major dietary adjustments. Prebiotic fibres like inulin and oligofructose can restore the balance of our intestinal flora by stimulating beneficial bifidobacteria growth – an important element of good digestive health.
BENEO’s Orafti Inulin and Orafti Oligofructose, for instance, are of 100% vegetable origin since they are derived from the chicory root. In fact, inulin and oligofructose are the only existing prebiotics derived from herbal sources. The prebiotic fermentation of inulin and oligofructose leads to the production of short-chain fatty acids, which help to stimulate bowel movements in a mild and natural manner. This beneficial effect has been acknowledged by the European Union Commission, which has approved an exclusive health claim for BENEO’s Orafti Inulin in the promotion of digestive health.
These natural and soluble prebiotic fibres can be easily incorporated into many popular products, including baked goods, baby food, dairy products, and cereal bars. With a mild, sugar-like sweetness, oligofructose can be used to reduce sucrose in food and beverages, provide all the nutritional benefits of fibre, at just half the calories of sugar. On the other hand, inulin’s fat mimicking properties can be used to replace part of the fat content in foods, thus creating healthier products while preserving desired textures and tastes.
This natural way of achieving digestive health is particularly important to many children and elderly, who often face poor bowel movements. Toddlers might be at particular risk of constipation due to changes in diet (overall low dietary fibre intake), toilet and potty training, as well as more exposure outside of the home (kindergarten) – factors which may negatively influence their digestive well-being.
Such prebiotics with 100% vegetable origin also stand out as viable options to naturally achieve a healthy and balanced digestive system. They are highly suitable for all age groups, including elderly, young children and infants.
A healthy life from the inside out
Consumers today long for tasty, easy-to-consume foods that can simultaneously bring proven health benefits. Functional fibres offer manufacturers the flexibility to enhance the fibre content in their food products without major changes in their formulation. At the same time, they deliver a host of nutritional benefits. Manufacturers who apply Orafti® Inulin and Oligofructose in their recipes can confidently market their products with scientifically proven health benefits that are in line with their customers’ demands for better nutrition.
 Business Wire, Global Microbial Food Culture Market – Growth, Trends & Forecasts (2017-2022) – Research and Markets
 International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics, Prebiotics
 TODAY Online, Take note of that gut feeling
 BENEO, Matching today’s expectations – Digestive health and prebiotic fibers
 BENEO, Health claim available: Orafti® Inulin improves bowel function
 BENEO News, Studies show further digestive health benefits for BENEO’s chicory fibre