Supplements & functional ingredients

trials, to determine a fuller extent of prebiotic impacts. Current targets for prebiotics have now expanded, beyond LAB, to a wider range of microbial responders. Similar to probiotics, these include candidate health- promoting genera such as Eubacterium spp., Akkermansia spp., Christensensella spp., Propionibacterium spp., and Faecalibacterium spp. Prebiotics may be used to stimulate the growth of these and other bacterial groups directly or indirectly through cross-feeding interactions. One of the key health promoting benefits of such genera is their production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that regulate a range of gut and ex-gut functions, including gut epithelial and mucus barrier function, immunity, inflammation, glucose and lipid metabolism, energy expenditure, and satiety.

Introducing prebiotics Currently, a narrow range of confirmed prebiotic substances exist, with galactans and fructans – for example, inulin – dominating the market. The desire to stimulate a wider group of commensal organisms has allowed the development of novel candidate prebiotic compounds. These will likely include carbohydrate-based substances derived from plants – the source of traditional prebiotics such as inulin – but may also include those that mimic animal-derived substrates, yeast-based substances, and many non- carbohydrate substances including polyphenolics, fatty acids, herbs, and other micronutrients. Over 8,000 known polyphenols exist in plants, vegetables, and fruits, and many reach the colon intact, to be utilised by resident microorganisms. Some polyphenols have been shown to have prebiotic potential, such as cranberry-rich extracts stimulating A. muciniphila, or to provide antimicrobial action against pathogens. In the future, prebiotics will likely be isolated from novel sources as focus on sustainability, cost, and scale emerges. The 1.3 billion tonnes of food waste generated annually in the food chain represents a rich and sustainable source of natural bioactive ingredients. Many side streams from fruit, vegetable, and grain processing contain potential prebiotics, such as pectin from orange peel and arabinoxylans from distillery and brewing waste. Future prebiotic compounds may also be chemically or structurally modified by the application of sonication, high pressure, acid, enzyme and oxidation treatments, in order to modify functionality.

There is also growing interest in the use of prebiotics to affect other microbiomes within the host, such as the female urogenital tract, oral cavity, and skin. As an example, prebiotic glucomannan hydrolysates have been shown to modulate the skin microbiome and reduce acne when administrated topically. There is also interest in more targeted prebiotic delivery

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within the distal colon for treatment or prevention of colorectal cancer and ulcerative colitis. A mixture of different chain length prebiotics, or specific delivery technologies, may allow delivery of intact prebiotics towards the distal colon and selective stimulation of carbohydrate-metabolising genera. Such modulation of the colonic microbial metabolome to a healthier profile is likely to become a key target for prebiotics, beyond simple microbial growth promotion. The ability of prebiotics to control detrimental bacterial growth via pathogen exclusion and virulence attenuation is an area of interest and may extend into viral pathogens. Prebiotics, such as human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), may also act as decoy receptors that prevent the attachment of pathogenic microorganisms, or via immunomodulatory interactions with host gut epithelial or immune cells.

Future perspectives

The wealth of research into microbiome-targeted nutrition and therapeutics has expanded the fields of probiotics and prebiotics as well as many related interventions. Both within and outside of the current definitions, new probiotics and prebiotics will emerge, challenging scientific as well as regulatory definitions.

Many substances will be derived from novel sources that meet economic and environmental needs to target a growing range of compositional and functional niches within the microbiome. Industry trends and consumer preferences will continue to drive demand for integration of probiotic, prebiotic, and other bioactive substances into a plethora of formats, supported by advancements in delivery technologies and quality assurance.

While the gut will likely remain as the heartland of these therapies, clinically proven applications will continue to expand in the respiratory system, immune system, urogenital tract, skin, nervous system, oral cavity, cardiometabolic system, and weight-management field. Although widespread clinical data does not yet support prebiotic use for prevention or treatment of serious viral infections, this represents a potential future area of investigation. Emerging healthcare challenges will drive research into new areas of global health importance, and a growing body of evidence for key applications will guide increased implementation in healthcare policy and practice. ●

Andrea Azcarate-Peril Alan Barnard, Valerie Benoit, General Mills, Roberta Grimaldi, Denis Guyonnet, Symrise Nutrition, Hannah D Holscher, Kirsty Hunter, Sarmauli Manurung, Reckitt Benckiser, David Obis, Danone Nutricia Research, Mariya I, Petrova Winclove, Robert E Steinert, Kelly S Swanson, Douwe van Sinderen, Jelena Vulevic, and Glenn R. Gibson also contributed to this study.

35 1.3 FAO of the UN

billion tonnes

The amount of food waste generated annually in the food chain represents a rich and sustainable source of natural bioactive ingredients.

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