Strengthen Immunity with Prebiotic Chicory Root Fibres

health immunity priority

For maintaining good health, a well-functioning immune system is essential. It is the body’s natural defence to recognise and fight against harmful substances, such as pathogenic bacteria, toxins and viruses. It is a complex network of specialised organs, cells and other elements working together to protect the body and fight infection. Keeping a healthy immune system is more important than ever all throughout life.  

Chicory root fibres can help to strengthen our inner defence with their positive effects on immunity in various ways involving the gut and its microbiota.

The gut is where the magic happens

A balanced and smart choice of nutrients can support our inner defence system. This is because our gut is the barrier between the inside of our body and the outside world. This physical barrier is important since the gut is in daily contact with food, drinks and even bacteria and pathogens through the mouth. 

As well as acting as a protective barrier, the gut also builds a major part of our immune system. More than 70% of the immune system is located in the intestines. Because pathogens can enter our body, both a well-functioning gut barrier and a strong immune system can help prevent these pathogens from harming us. 

Our gut is also where trillions of bacteria live, and our gut bacteria play an important role in supporting our immune system. Imbalances in the gut microbiota have been linked to disturbed immunity and diseases. Good health starts with taking care of our gut microbiota, particularly the beneficial bacteria which are an essential part of the body’s inner defence system. 

Prebiotics, like chicory root fibres, help to strengthen immunity. They naturally support a healthy microbiota by increasing the beneficial bacteria, already present in the gut.

How do prebiotic chicory root fibres help strengthen immunity?

Some of our gut bacteria are known to be beneficial for health, e.g. bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. These bacteria can be selectively increased by eating prebiotics, like the prebiotic fibres Orafti® Inulin and Oligofructose from the chicory root. In this way, our immune system can be strengthened. 

Prebiotic inulin and oligofructose are not digested in the small intestine. Instead, they reach the large intestine untouched and are selectively fermented by beneficial bacteria in the gut. This results in a higher number of good bacteria, in particular bifidobacteria, which is the first step of prebiotics positively influencing the microbiota composition. 

Good bacteria show their support of the immune system already in the gut environment as such.  

  1. Their fermentation lowers the pH in the gut and creates a less favourable environment for harmful bacteria.   
  1. These bacteria can also produce antimicrobial substances to fight harmful bacteria preventing them from colonising the gut.   
  1. Good bacteria also produce beneficial metabolites from prebiotic chicory root fibres such as short-chain fatty acids, which nourish the cells of the gut wall. Healthy gut cells with tight junctions and a protective film prevent pathogens from entering the body. This is one of the mechanisms by which chicory root fibre and the good bacteria work together to support gut health and the immune system. 

Prebiotic chicory root fibres, inulin and oligofructose, are special nutrients that help our immune system in many ways. These prebiotics not only improve the number of beneficial bifidobacteria, they can reduce potential pathogens, counterbalance negative effects of antibiotics on the gut microbiota, support immune cells inside and outside the gut, reduce inflammation, improve antibody responses after vaccination, and may modulate immunity in allergy and autoimmune diseases. 

How do prebiotic chicory root fibres help strengthen immunity

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Building strength from within with prebiotic fibres from the chicory root.

Immunity early in life

Building up the gut microbiota and the immune system starts immediately with birth. In the first weeks and months, a baby’s immune system is very much influenced by the bacteria colonising in the gut, with the beneficial bacteria playing an important role. As such, healthy nutrition in the first years of life is key. 

Infants receive their first prebiotics with breast milk feeding due to the presence of HMOs (Human Milk Oligosaccharides). This leads to the growth of bifidobacteria as the dominant microorganisms in the infant’s microbiota. This has been linked to positive effects on immunity such as less allergy development.  

When breastfeeding is not possible, infant formula enriched with prebiotics are the best choice to support the baby’s gut microbiota. Prebiotics therefore play an important role in the maturation of the gut, the microbiota and the immune system. 

Naturally occurring prebiotics, such as inulin and oligofructose from the chicory root, increase the beneficial bifidobacteria in the gut, improve digestive health and strengthen inner defence in babies and children. Because of these health benefits, prebiotic chicory root fibres are added to many infant formulas, follow-on formulas and other foods and drinks for babies and children. Apart from our extensive nutritional expertise on the subject, BENEO’s Technology Center specialises in developing general and customised recipes for our business partners in the baby food segment.  

Want to learn more about how chicory root fibres can play an important role for healthy nutrition in the first years of life?

Immunity support throughout life

Developing a healthy immune system early in life is key, supporting it throughout life is no less important. Maintaining health, fighting off infections and recovering from diseases are lifelong tasks for our body.  

Over the course of a lifetime, the immune system ages and weakens. Imbalances in the microbiota are common and correlate with certain diseases, e.g. inflammation inside and outside the gut,  that increase in prevalence with age. 

The support of a balanced microbiota seems to be a good preventive, health supporting measure. While it is good to start as early as possible, it is never too late to begin: everyone can support their inner defence with a small dietary intervention. Including just 3 grams of BENEO’s prebiotic inulin or oligofructose per day significantly increases bifidobacteria. The beneficial effect on the microbiota helps to support a person’s digestive health and overall wellbeing, while helping to keep the immune system in good shape. 

Meet market needs – Innovate with prebiotics 

Food and beverages with functional benefits are increasing in popularity on consumers shopping lists. On a global level, already 2 in 5 people consume foods/drinks with a positive impact on their health. What’s more, a similar number of Asian consumers are willing to pay more for products that improve their physical health; with 49% the Indonesians being the most willing. 

In fact, for the global consumer, boosting immunity and improving gut health are in the top 3 most desirable functions of food and beverages; and almost one third of people eats foods/beverages that support the body functions, such as immune health or gut health. For 75% of the people in Asia Pacific, digestive health plays an important role to their immunity and 43% of Asians believing pre-pro-postbiotics can benefit their immune system.  

The food industry can help consumers in their desire for such functional, active nutrition by reinventing their product lines with prebiotic chicory root fibres. Prebiotics positively support the good gut microbiota, being beneficial for people’s digestive health and immune system. 

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Inner defence support with prebiotic chicory root fibres

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