The new study is the first human trial to demonstrate a link between GOS consumption, gut microbiota composition and mental well-being.
Its findings, “open the door for prolific, clinically-proven innovation in the supplement and functional food sectors,” according to André Groeneveld, discovery manager at FrieslandCampina Ingredients.
During the four-week trial, 64 women aged 18 to 25, with self-reported anxiety, received a daily dose of Biotis GOS or a placebo supplement. Participants completed baseline and end-of-study surveys to assess their general health, including their sleep quality, mood and stress levels. Gut microbiome sequencing analysis was also carried out.
After 28 days, the group receiving Biotis GOS reported improved mental well-being and reduced anxiety levels, while the microbiome sequencing analysis showed they had better gut health, characterized by significantly increased Bifidobacteria levels, compared to the control group. In addition, brain imaging was employed on a sub-sample of participants to measure key emotion regulation regions, allowing for further understanding of how changes in the gut microbiome may relate to brain functioning.
The results suggest a daily Biotis GOS supplement in a fortified food or drink may be beneficial in instances of pre-clinical anxiety.
Vicky Davies, global marketing director at FrieslandCampina Ingredients, said, “Research into the gut-brain axis is still a relatively new field, so it’s very exciting that this study has provided further evidence of the link between the gut microbiome and mental well-being, as well as how psychobiotics like Biotis GOS can reduce symptoms and feelings of anxiety.
“We developed Biotis to usher in a new era of ingredients science – one that responds directly to the key concerns of today’s consumers. Given the challenges of the last year, mental well-being, including anxiety, is one of the most pressing and widespread global health issues right now. We’re very proud to be playing our role in furthering scientific understanding of how prebiotics like galacto-oligosaccharides can target the microbiome to bring about benefits in mental wellbeing.”
Dr Kathrin Cohen Kadosh, reader in developmental cognitive neuroscience at the University of Surrey and head of the Social Brain and Development Lab, said, “We have been able to show that a simple and safe food supplement including prebiotics can improve both the abundance of beneficial bacteria in the gut, and mental health and well-being in young women. This new research marks a significant step forward and opens up more opportunity to advance our understanding of the link between the gut microbiome and mental well-being.”