The current scientific consensus definition of a prebiotic is, “a substrate that is selectively utilised by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit,” which was developed by a panel of experts in microbiology, nutrition and clinical research in 2016 under the umbrella of the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISCAPP). The first mention of prebiotics was, however, in 1995, in a scientific publication called, “Dietary modulation of the human colonic microbiota: Introducing the concept of prebiotics,” by Gibson and Roberfroid.
Prebiotics are commonly thought of as fibres, but recently many functional fibres have been developed, especially in the form of non-digestible oligosaccharides.
The most effective and efficacious prebiotic will be those that can confer the maximum number of health benefits. This article looks at some of the strategies taken by Microbiome Labs to achieve this and how they have been applied to MegaPre™️, their prebiotic supplement.
The strategies that have been taken are to:
- target the growth of keystone bacteria within the microbiome
- use oligosaccharides proven to increase specific keystone species
- choose oligosaccharides that also confer other proven health benefits
- use variety to promote diversity
- Target the growth of keystone bacteria within the microbiome
Microbes are highly communicative organisms, and keystone bacteria are the most effective at stimulating quorum sensing, the biological mechanism that brings microbes together through chemical signalling. Through this mechanism, keystone bacteria actually drive microbial community composition and function, irrespective of their abundance, and create the foundation of a stable microbial ecosystem.
Loss or removal of keystone taxa can cause a pyramid collapse, and lead to dramatic shifts in microbiome structure and function and resulting in many negative health consequences. Unfortunately their populations are constantly under attack by antibiotics, stress, unhealthy diets, glyphosate and other environmental toxins, so prevalent in today’s modern society. And, as many of these strains are anaerobic, it is almost impossible to take them orally as probiotics, but, just like fertilising and watering a garden, the right nutrition and conditions can increase their abundance.
For this reason, MegaPre™️ has been formulated to target the growth of three keystone species, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Akkermansia muciniphila and Bifidobacteria spp, for the following reasons.
Faecalibacterium prausnitziiis one of the most abundant and important commensal organisms in the human gut and a prolific butyrate producer. By producing butyrate, it plays a significant role in providing energy for intestinal cells and reducing intestinal inflammation. Low levels are common signatures of inflammatory intestinal disorders like IBS, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, colorectal cancer, obesity, and celiac disease.
Akkermansia muciniphilais a mucin-degrading bacterium that plays an important role in the regulation of the gut barrier and metabolism. In humans, it is associated with healthier metabolic status, particularly improved insulin sensitivity and glucose homeostasis, and better outcomes after weight loss. Low abundance has been linked to obesity, diabetes, liver disease, cardiometabolic diseases, and low-grade inflammation.
The genus Bifidobacterium also plays an important role in maintaining barrier function and stimulating the immune system. Because Bifidobacteria are also butyrate-producers, they help reduce intestinal inflammation and also appear to help with weight management. Low levels have been associated with obesity, diabetes, celiac disease, allergic asthma, dermatitis, IBD, chronic fatigue syndrome, and psoriasis.
2. Use oligosaccharides proven to increase these keystone species
It is really important to know which bacterial species are increased (or decreased) with a chosen prebiotic, and at which dose these changes occur. Without human research, it is impossible to know exactly what a prebiotic is doing in the human microbiome, or at which dose it is actually doing anything. For this reason, MegaPre™️ only contains evidence-based oligosaccharides, which have been shown to target the growth of certain keystone bacteria in human trials.
Oligosaccharides are essentially medium-chain carbohydrates, where the prefix oligo- denotes few, which means that there are only a few links in the chain. Mono- and di- saccharides have one or two links in their chains, respectively, and polysaccharides contain many links in the molecular chain. Non-digestible oligosaccharides can be considered functional fibres because they perform the same function as complex dietary fibres, namely to be fermented by intestinal bacteria.
In fact, oligosaccharides are our baseline natural prebiotics, with over 200 found in mothers’ milk, where they are used to modulate and develop the infant’s microbiome during a crucial stage of life. Oligosaccharides are therefore one of nature’s prebiotic choices for gut microbiome modulation.
Bulkier prebiotics such as cellulose, resistant starch and inulin feed primary degraders which go on convert the fibre through fermentation into intermediate products like acetate, lactate and oligosaccharides. These fermentation products then go on to feed secondary degraders, many of which are keystone species. Feeding primary degraders lacks precision and can exacerbate existing digestive issues and this is why the chosen oligosaccharides in MegaPre™️ feed secondary degraders only. Secondary degraders also produce much of the short chain fatty acids, such of butyrate, and this really important for your intestinal cells, or enterocytes, as SCFAs are their prime energy source, and they can also soothe intestinal inflammation, which often drives systemic inflammation.
Short-chain fatty acids are extremely important in the intestines because they are the prime energy source for your intestinal cells, known as enterocytes, but they can also soothe intestinal inflammation – which is the major source of systemic inflammation. For this reason, a gut microbiome that produces a large amount of SCFAs will be much more capable of fighting inflammation and protecting the human host from disease.
To do this, MegaPre™️ uses four carefully chosen oligosaccharides at proven therapeutic doses, which are:
- a xylo-oligosaccharide (XOS) isolated from the cob of corn
- two fructo-oligosaccharides ( FOSs) extracted from green & gold kiwi cores, and
- a galacto-oligosaccharide (GOS) derived from lactose
For some, the involvement of corn and lactose may cause concern. However, the XOS and GOS used in MegaPre™️ does not contain any proteins or disaccharides (which are the usual offenders in most food allergies and sensitivities), using instead isolated oligosaccharides, each with a wealth of research behind them, which do not not usually cause any reactions to those sensitive to corn or dairy.
For example, a 2017 study published in the ‘Journal of Nutritional Sciences’ found that oral supplementation of this FOS combination increased the abundance of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii by 100% in 4 weeks, and another study, published in ‘Diabetes’, found it was correlated with an 8,000% increase in Akkermansia muciniphila in only 5 weeks.
A study conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2014 found that this XOS increased the abundance of Bifidobacteria by 21% in as little as 4 weeks, and a randomised, double-blind, and placebo-controlled crossover study published in the ‘American Journal of Clinical Nutrition’ found that this GOS increased the abundance of Bifidobacteria by 66% in just 7 days.
MegaPre™️ only contains evidence based oligosaccharides at therapeutic dose, that have been proven to target the growth of important keystone bacteria and increase SCFA production, improve gut barrier function and optimise immune responses. As MegaPreBiotic contains a much smaller dose of prebiotic fibres than most products on the market, it makes it easier to tolerate and less likely to produce gas and bloating.
4. Chose oligosaccharides that also confer other proven health benefits
The best oligosaccharides are those that have also been shown to have many other prove benefits and those use in MegaPre™️ have demonstrated the following in numerous published research studies.
The GOS used in MegaPre™️ has been shown to:
- improve digestive discomfort in numerous studies, including in one where it reduced symptoms as effectively as a low FODMAP diet
- increase Bifidobacteria
- up-regulate natural killer cell activity and anti-inflammatory cytokines while reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines
- improve lactose intolerance
- demonstrate reductions in C-reactive protein and calprotectin whilst increasing secretory IgA
- improve anti-social behaviour and urine metabolites in children on the autistic spectrum
- reduce the salivary awakening response
The XOS used has been shown to:
- increase Bifidobacteria
- lower the Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio (where a higher ratio is associated with an overweight microbiome)
- Reduce insulin levels in pre-diabetic adults
The two FOSs, when researched together, were shown to:
- significantly increase Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Akkermansia muciniphila
- reduce inflammatory cytokines
- support regular bowel movements
- improve colonic pH
This means that MegaPre™️ helps to reconfigure the microbiome so that it becomes more health-promoting, and this leads to a series of positive feedback loops, resulting in more SCFA production, less immune reactivity and better metabolic function.
5. Use a variety to promote microbial diversity
We all know that diversity is a hallmark of health in a microbiome. This means that it is important that any prebiotic should contain a variety of substates, which also mimics natural sources. That is why MegaPre™️ contains four carefully selected oligosaccharides at therapeutic doses, that work together synergistically to confer many proven health benefits.
Microbiome Labs UK also recommends that you combine MegaPre™️ with our spore-based probiotic, MegaSporeBiotic. In another recent study, MegaSporeBiotic alone was shown to increase SCFA production by 20-70%, but this jumped to 80-140% when used in combination with MegaPre™️.
MegaSporeBiotic, MegaPre™️ and MegaMucosa also combine to make up Microbiome Lab’s ‘Total Gut Restoration’ protocol, more details of which can be found on the website, under the Education Tab (only available to registered practitioners).
MegaPre™️ combines extensively researched oligosaccharides into either a convenient capsule form, or a powder form that can be mixed into a drink and sipped to provide a steady source of prebiotic nutrition throughout the day.
Both forms are in doses shown to be effective at increasing the important SCFA producing keystone species Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Akkermansia muciniphila and Bifidobacteria as well as conferring many additional proven benefits, as outlined above.
MegaPre capsule dosage
Week 1 – 3 capsules daily
Week 2+ – 6 capsules daily
MegaPre powder dosage
Start with ½ scoop daily for one week, then increase to 1 scoop daily with or without food, or as directed by your healthcare practitioner. Mix into 16 oz of cold water or liquid of your choic
NOTE: Sensitive individuals or children may require a smaller dosage. This may include people with known GI-related issues or those who are highly sensitive to supplements. The content of the capsule can be combined with a small amount of food or drink for a more individualised dosage.
My name is Karen Jones and I am a BANT registered nutritional therapist practicing in London. I also provide practitioner support for Microbiome Labs products in the UK. Please email me on karen@tmcventures if you would like any further support or information about any of the Microbiome Labs product range.
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