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Prebiotics May Help Women Make Healthier Food Choices and Consume Less Sugar

A study from the University of Surrey has found that young women who took four weeks of a prebiotic supplement made healthier food choices and consumed less sugar.

The prebiotics used in this study were galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) which increase the amount of ‘friendly’ gut bacteria.

The investigation was carried out on 48 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 25 years. The women were divided into a group that took a GOS supplement (a product from Biotis™) and another group which was given a placebo for 28 days. The women were asked to keep a food diary of their eating and drinking habits; the researchers also collected a stool sample for microbiome sequencing.

The research team found that participants who used the GOS supplement consumed 4.1% less sugar and 4.3% fewer calories from carbohydrates overall than women from the placebo group. The study also found that those who took the GOS supplement consumed around 4.2% more energy from fats.

After analysing their results, the Surrey team found that the prebiotic supplement modified the composition of the gut microbiome, increasing levels of Bifidobacterium. These changes were associated with the women’s nutritional intake over the four-week period.

Dr Kathrin Cohen Kadosh, ( lead author of the study from the University of Surrey, said: “In this study, we looked at the effect of prebiotic intake on the wellbeing of young women. Stress and anxiety have long been blamed for ‘comfort eating’, and there is growing evidence to support the influence of stress on unhealthy eating behaviours.”

Dr Nicola Johnstone, co-author of the study from the University of Surrey, added: “So far, our research makes it clear that prebiotics such as GOS are effective in increasing the growth of gut bacteria, and this may have a positive impact on what we eat and how we feel. Now, more work needs to be done to confirm and help us understand the mechanisms that allow GOS to suppress our longing for sugary products.”

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