Prebiotics promote satiety, but it's hard to make the claim, expert says

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Satiety is one of the best-supported effects of prebiotic supplementation, an expert says.  But translating that into claims can be tricky.

Joanne Slavin, PhD, professor of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota, spoke with NutraIngredients-USA at the recent Probiota Americas event in San Francisco. Satiety is a clear win for prebiotics, she maintained.  But convincing regulators of the fact is more difficult, she said.

There was a recent review article, a meta analysis, looking at all of the things that prebiotics can do for us and taking all of the studies together some of the strongest support was for satiety,Slavin said.

It’s well known, Slavin said, that anytime fiber is added to the diet that digestion and nutrient absorption is slowed, contributing to the feeling of fullness.

Anytime there is fermentation in the large intestine that makes people feel fuller,” Slavin said.

Does it help people lose weight?

But the problem comes in with what people do with that feeling.  Support still lacks for the notion that frequently experiencing that feeling of fullness, something that could come from regular prebiotic supplementation, will translate into lower body weight over time. Results seem to indicate that, satiated or not, people tend to eat as much as they are accustomed to over time, leading to the inference that there are many more factors at play than just the feedback loop from the gut to the brain as to how much food is being digested.

So often we dont have a lot of claims for satiety, Slavin said.  But she went on to say that just because there is not an ironclad link between the promotion of satiety and lower body weight, that does not mean that prebiotics can’t be a useful tool in the struggle to help people control their weight.

Sure, we don’t have great tools to give to people where we can tell them this for sure will make you lose weight. But helping them not to eat, not to snack, thats a definite advantage,Slavin said.

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