The microbes that populate the human body provide vital functions that are essential for health. Food components known as probiotics and prebiotics help these beneficial microorganisms to flourish.  Synbiotic foods, those that combine the action of prebiotics and probiotics along the gastrointestinal tract, may be particularly advantageous. 

A recent study, published in the October 2019 issue of The Journal of Nutrition, studied how an innovative synbiotic pasta containing a prebiotic fiber and probiotic bacteria impacted inflammatory and metabolic health among 41 sedentary overweight and obese adults. This is the first study to investigate how a synbiotic pasta impacted not only the gut microbiota composition but also biomarkers of cardiometabolic health in a cohort consuming their habitual diets. A corresponding editorial by Corrie Whisner added further insights into the complexities of these research findings.

The randomized, placebo-controlled study by Nicoletta Pellegrini (University of Parma) and colleagues showed that 12 wk of once-daily synbiotic whole-grain pasta consumption did not improve biomarkers of inflammation, glucose, or lipid metabolism when compared to placebo whole-grain pasta. However, further analyses revealed that a specific subgroup, consisting of obese participants that consumed the synbiotic pasta, had reduced inflammatory markers and improved plasma LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio.

Hyperglycemic participants also benefited from the synbiotic pasta with a reduction in plasma resistin, a hormone associated with insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Consumption of synbiotic pasta also resulted in beneficial microbial changes in these subgroups.

Although the metabolic and inflammatory benefits of the synbiotic pasta were limited to subgroups of the cohort with elevated glucose and body weight, study results set a foundation for future research that aims to understand how changes in human health relate to modifications of the gut microbiota.

“Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of this study was the use of pasta as a vehicle for delivering synbiotics”

Dr. Corrie Whisner, nutrition researcher at Arizona State University.

According to Dr. Whisner, pasta is a staple food in many countries, which makes it a viable dietary intervention for enhancing the health of obese individuals with or without hyperglycemia.

References Angelino D, Martina A, Rosi A, Veronesi L, Antonini M, Mennella H, Vitaglione P, Grioni S, Brighenti F, Zavaroni I, Fares C, Torriani S, Pellegrini N. Glucose- and Lipid-Related Biomarkers Are Affected in Healthy Obese or Hyperglycemic Adults Consuming a Whole-Grain Pasta Enriched in Prebiotics and Probiotics: A 12-Week Randomized Control Trial. The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 149, Issue 10, October 2019, Pages 1714–1723, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxz071

Whisner CM. Ingestion of a Synbiotic Pasta by Those with Elevated Blood Sugar and Body Mass Index Results in Health Benefits. The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 149, Issue 10, October 2019, Pages 1687–1689, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxz132

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