Experts gather at the 14th European Nutrition Conference FENS to discuss cross-talk between the gut and brain

Published: 17-Nov-2023

The 14th European Nutrition Conference organised by the Federation of European Nutrition Societies (FENS) recently took place in Belgrade, Serbia

BENEO hosted a symposium with leading scientists to discuss the connection between the gut and the brain, and the important role functional carbohydrates and prebiotic fibres play within this. 

The cross-talk between the gut and the brain is a complex and bidirectional communication that influences various aspects of consumer health, including mood, cognition and overall well-being.

There is growing evidence demonstrating the important role nutrition plays in modulating this interaction, by supporting a healthy gut microbiota, regulating blood sugar and providing essential nutrients.

With this in mind, BENEO hosted an exclusive symposium with leading scientific experts presenting insights into recent study results. 

Dr Stephan Theis, Head of Nutrition Science at BENEO, comments: “BENEO’s purpose is to contribute to better nutrition and health based on sound science."

"Therefore, sharing the latest results and insights into how functional carbohydrates and prebiotic fibres impact not only our gut health and energy metabolism, but also play a pivotal role in maintaining cognitive well-being was the key focus of BENEO’s scientific symposium.”

Speakers at the event and their respective topics included the following

  • Professor Markus Heinrichs, University of Freiburg, Germany (Prebiotics and the Gut-Brain-Axis)
  • Professor David Benton, Swansea University, UK (Impact of Glycaemic Index on Sleep and Memory Consolidation)
  • Professor R.A. Rastall, University of Reading, UK (Effects of Prebiotics on Intestinal Colonisation and Mood).

Providing insights into their discussions at the event, the speakers shared the following comments.

Professor Markus Heinrichs, University of Freiburg, Germany: “Psychosocial stress is a ubiquitous challenge affecting a wide spectrum of diseases. Individuals who exhibit exaggerated cortisol responses to stress are at increased risk of future negative health outcomes including depression and cardiovascular diseases."

Experts gather at the 14th European Nutrition Conference FENS to discuss cross-talk between the gut and brain

"Recent evidence from research suggests that diet plays a prominent role in stress responsiveness via the gut microbiome."

"We found that a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind 4-week prebiotic supplementation (5 g of chicory root inulin or placebo twice daily) reduces cortisol and anxiety responses to a standardised psychosocial stress exposure, especially in more vulnerable participants with high cortisol stress responses. Therefore, a microbiota-targeted intervention may alleviate responses to stress.”

Professor David Benton, Swansea University, UK: “A literature review found that varying carbohydrates in meals, which would inevitably result in different levels of blood glucose, produced changes in sleep, with less carbohydrate associated with more slow-wave, and less rapid eye movement sleep."  

"As in the hypothalamus there are glucose-sensing neurons, that influence the sleep-wake cycle, an exploratory study compared two drinks prior to sleeping. A drink containing the alternative sugar isomaltulose, rather than glucose, tended to be associated with more slow-wave sleep.”

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Professor R.A. Rastall, University of Reading, UK: “The study investigated the potential impact of the prebiotic oligofructose and the human milk oligosaccharide 2’fucosyllactose (2’FL) on symptoms of anxiety and depression in individuals who were not taking antidepressant medication."

"The study shows that oligofructose consumption resulted in significant reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression. 2'FL was also effective in some, but not all individuals whereas oligofructose was effective in the majority."

"The combination of oligofructose and 2'FL increased the positive impact on mood. The study results suggest that a readily formulated food ingredient could be of benefit to people suffering from non-clinical anxiety and depression, allowing for a wide range of finished products with benefits to mental health.”

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