Potato-derived prebiotic shows insulin resistance benefits in study

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Earl McLaren, co-founder of MSPrebiotics, said his company's prebiotic ingredient is dervied from a special type of potato. MSPrebiotics Inc photo.
Earl McLaren, co-founder of MSPrebiotics, said his company's prebiotic ingredient is dervied from a special type of potato. MSPrebiotics Inc photo.

Related tags Insulin resistance Diabetes mellitus

A recent study conducted in Canada demonstrated that a potato-derived resistant starch showed positive results in lowering insulin resistance in elderly subjects.

The starch, branded as MSPrebiotic, was developed by a company that goes by the same name (with an ’s’ at the end), which was the outgrowth of a family potato farming operation. It’s a familiar story of innovation in looking for value added health ingredients from an agricultural feedstock.

“We started in the 1980s as a potato harvester,”​ Derek McLaren, vice president of MSPrebitotics Inc. told NutraIngredients-USA. “As we developed the business we got more interested in digestion resistant starch, and we extracted this one from a specific variety of potato.”

Effects in blood markers as well as microbiome makeup

In this most recent study​, the researchers were looking for blood glucose and insulin resistance markers. In a study on the same ingredient published in 2017, the researchers looked at changes in the makeup of the gut microbiome as a result of the fermentation of the substance​. They found that it promoted the growth of Bifidobacteria in both elderly and middle aged patients, and in the elderly group it appeared to restrict the growth of Proteobacteria.

Fermentation of prebiotic ingredients has been widely studied as a mechanism that can promote gut health, but it still has a ways to go to be recognized as such by regulatory authorities both in Canada and the United States. For instance, in its recent guidance on the definition of dietary fiber as it relates to isolated and purified fibers, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) left fermentation as a process aside when assessing the health benefits of these ingredients, much to the dismay of researchers in the field.

“Although many regulatory bodies around the world recognize the value of adequate dietary fiber, there are no dietary recommendations specifically for prebiotic consumption. Verbeke et al. and Bindels et al. have highlighted the value of fermentation metabolites as markers for prebiotic health benefits. However, this is difficult when there are no defined ‘healthy’ levels of such metabolites, and current testing methods do not take into consideration the rapid absorption of such metabolites (e.g., short chain fatty acids),”​ they wrote.

Study design and results

The most recent clinical trial ​followed the design of the 2017 study by looking at groups of elderly and middle aged subjects. The researchers recruited 42 elderly subjects (70 years old or older) and the same number of middle-aged subjects and divided them into treatment and placebo groups. The treatment groups ingested 30 grams of MSPrebiotic (a soluble powder that can be mixed into water, smoothies, etc.) or a placebo for 12 weeks.

The clinical trial demonstrated that MSPrebiotic can improve metabolism. Specifically, the publication showed patent-pending MSPrebiotic significantly reduced blood glucose levels and lowered insulin resistance in elderly people. Elevated blood glucose and increasing insulin resistance are the major risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Canada estimates that nearly 11 million Canadians are living with diabetes or prediabetes.

According to a 2015 JAMA study​, about 12% to 14% of the overall US population suffers from diabetes or have undiagnosed prediabetic conditions, which could equate to as many as 48 million people today using 2017 estimates of the US population. The researchers said the prevalence of the condition had increased in all groups studied in the 1984-2012 time period.

Results could help drive prediabetes intervention compliance

Jason Bush, PhD, senior scientiest for MSPrebiotics, said the results of the trial confirmed results from a 2017 preliminary study in a swine model, which he said equates better to the human digestive system than does mouse data.

The swine study demonstrated that levels of the gut-derived hormone GLP-1 were significantly elevated in animals who consumed MSPrebiotic. He said the same mechanism appears to be acting in elderly individuals who consumed MSPrebiotic, reinforcing an important link between prebiotic consumption and overall metabolism.

We are really excited about the results on insulin because we know that this is a major risk factor for developing Type 2 diabetes. We know about 50% of men over the age of 70 will have difficulty in managing their blood glucose levels,​ Bush said.

Bush said the company is excited by the prospect that the addition of a prebiotic to the diet could by itself move these needles. While improved eating and exercise habits are recommended for this group and are indeed necessary, compliance is often an issue. Bush said there might be a greater expectation of compliance if all a health care practitioner was asking a patient to do would be to add a couple of scoops of powder to a smoothie.

Doctors always tell their patients to eat fewer carbohydrates and exercise more. There is kind of a lip service given to these ideas with very little hope that any of that is going to have an effect. Typically the expectation is that patients wont follow that advice. But with MSPrebiotic, we think we have the ability to add something back in that might be missing from the diet that could help and that we feel will have much higher compliance,​ he said.

Source: Frontiers in Medicine, Geriatric Medicine
A Randomized Placebo Controlled Clinical Trial to Determine the Impact of Digestion Resistant Starch MSPrebiotic on Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance in Elderly and Mid-Age Adults
22 January 2018 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fmed.2017.00260
Authors: Alfa MJ, Strang D, Tappia PS, et al.

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