Posted on May 11, 2016, 6 a.m.
The agave plant is abundant in inulin, which may shift gut bacteria populations and activities.
Prebiotics are digestion-resistant compounds that feed the “good bacteria” in the GI tract. The agave plant contains inulin, a polysaccharide for which some previous studies suggest a physiologic effect. Kelly Swanson, from the University of Illinois (Illinois, USA), and colleagues enrolled 29 healthy adults in a 3-period crossover double-blind study in which subjects were randomized to 1of 3 groups: 0, 5.0, or 7.5 grams per day of agave inulin; each period was followed by a 7-day washout before crossover. Fecal samples were collected and fermented, then analyzed to determine gut bacteria populations. Data analysis revealed that Bifidobacterium levels increased 4-fold after 5.0 and 7.5 grams per day agave inulin; as well, Desultivibrio levels decreased 40%. Agave inulin consumption also associated with reduced fecal pH and increased butyrate – suggesting increased saccharolytic fermentation and reduced proteolytic fermentation. The study authors observe that: “Agave inulin supplementation shifted the gastrointestinal microbiota composition and activity in healthy adults.”
Holscher HD, Bauer LL, Gourineni V, Pelkman CL, Fahey GC Jr, Swanson KS. “Agave Inulin Supplementation Affects the Fecal Microbiota of Healthy Adults Participating in a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Trial.” J Nutr. 2015 Jul 22. pii: jn217331.