Gum arabic establishes prebiotic functionality in healthy human volunteers in a dose-dependent manner.

The present study was undertaken to determine the prebiotic efficacy of gum arabic upon consumption by man for up to 4 weeks and, if any, to establish the dose-effect relationship. Human healthy volunteers consumed various daily doses (5, 10, 20, 40 g) of gum arabic (EmulGold) in water for up to 4 weeks. Daily consumption of water was taken as the negative control and that of 10 g inulin as the positive control. At 0, 1, 2 and 4 weeks quantification of bacterial numbers in stool samples was performed via real time-PCR techniques and questionnaires were filled in to account for potential drawbacks. The genera of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli were taken as potentially beneficial bacteria and those of Bacteroides, Clostridium difficile and Enterococci as potentially non-beneficial, this distinction was dependent on the issue of these numbers being or becoming out of balance in the host. Compared with the negative control the numbers of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli 4 weeks after consumption were significantly higher for gum arabic: the optimal dose being around 10 g. Moreover, at this dose the numbers of Bifidobacteria, Lactobacilli and Bacteroides were significantly higher for gum arabic than for inulin. No significant drawback was encountered during the study. It is concluded that gum arabic establishes prebiotic efficacy, at least as good as inulin. The optimal daily dose was found to be 10 g.