New Study Reveals How Precision Prebiotic Benicaros Reshapes Microbiota Composition for Consistent, Predictable Gut Health Benefits

Wageningen, the Netherlands A new study provides insights into the fermentation mechanisms that enable precision prebiotic Benicaros® from NutriLeads to overcome differences in individual gut microbiota composition to consistently increase beneficial bacteria present in the gut of most people. The in vitro study, published in Food Hydrocolloids has broad implications for prebiotic product formulation.

“The study results provide further evidence on how complex prebiotic fibers, such as Benicaros, can reliably deliver health benefits,” said Joana Carneiro, Ph.D., NutriLeads Chief Executive Officer. “These findings are especially interesting for manufacturers of prebiotic health products aiming to deliver more effective propositions with predictable, consistent gut health benefits.”

Previous research demonstrated that the impact of different prebiotic fibers on the gut microbiota varies as it is influenced by the complexity of the fiber itself as well as the unique gut microbial composition of each individual. However, a recently published study utilizing SIFR® technology, found that Benicaros, which is a complex and a rather high specificity fiber, consistently had positive effects across all individuals despite initial differences in their gut microbiota composition.

This newly published study sought to better understand the reasons for Benicaros’ remarkable consistency. It explored the structural changes of Benicaros during fermentation and its functional impact in the gut. The research employed the widely recognized in vitro intestinal model, the M-SHIME ®, which was adapted to study the fermentation kinetics of Benicaros by the gut microbiota of four healthy donors in parallel.

Results Confirm that Prebiotic Fiber Structure Matters

Benicaros, a prebiotic fiber identified as rhamnogalacturonan-I (carrot RG-I, cRG-I), is sourced from upcycled carrot pomace. It is a complex polysaccharide belonging to the pectin family, a class of carbohydrates present in the cell walls of carrots and other crops. Its molecular structure comprises a main backbone of repeating units of galacturonic acid and rhamnose, the latter carrying side chains of different composition and complexity, with arabinan and galactan sidechains being the most abundant.

Despite its complex structure, Benicaros underwent rapid fermentation in the proximal colon compartment by a consortium of gut microorganisms. The initial fermentation pattern varied among donors and was influenced by the individual baseline microbiota. However, after daily supplementation of cRG-I- for three weeks, the final fermentation characteristics became consistent across all four donors. The fermentation of BeniCaros resulted in an increased production of short-chain fatty acids, especially propionate, known to confer beneficial health effects on the host.

The authors noted that during fermentation, Benicaros’ side chains (especially arabinan) are preferentially degraded over the cRG-I backbone, thus consistently stimulating bifidobacteria for which arabinose and galactose are preferential growth substrates. Dr. Ruud Albers, NutriLeads founder and one of the co-authors, emphasized that “while different gut bacteria consortia may participate in the successive steps of cRG-I hydrolysis, repeated exposure to this high specificity fiber similarly stimulated beneficial bacteria and metabolites known to contribute to the positive effect on gut health across all donors”.

Details about the study are available in the full paper, “Structure dependent fermentation kinetics of dietary carrot rhamnogalacturonan-I in an in vitro gut model” [Desai et al, Food Hydrocolloids, 2024, 110036].