Solactis® Solvay range of nutritional ingredients, presents its first success: galactofructose.
How can I make a reliable innovation, in the field of nutrition
and more specifically on digestive health? This is the problem
that we, at Solvay have been trying to tackle, in a field where
the chemist as its word to say, complementary to the food scientist.
This is the reason for the development of the SOLACTIS® range, the
Solvay brand of nutritional food ingredients, with a first achievement
that we hereby propose to present.
Galactofructose is a milk-derived disaccharide obtained by
isomerisation of lactose. It is a sweet tasting functional ingredient
recognized for its digestive qualities by the EFSA (European Food
Safety Authorities) and KFDA (Korean Food & Drug Administration).
Although the SOLACTIS® range is new to the industry, its first
ingredient, the galactofructose, is one of the best studied health
ingredients. Indeed, it was first introduced in infant food in 1957
when the growth of the bifidogenic bacteria in infants by adding
galactofructose to their diet was demonstrated. Two years later it was
shown to be effective to regulate transit disorders through its osmotic
effect. Galactofructose is the first prebiotic, with strong supporting
evidence of its effect in the human gastrointestinal tract. Its health
properties make its use relevant for the food industry.
Galactofructose is a food ingredient which is also used, at higher
dosages, in the pharmaceutical area, for the treatment of specific
medical conditions (to release people from pathologies linked to
slow transit, and to prevent and treat hepatic encephalopathy). In
these applications, the denomination commonly used is lactulose as
lactulose and galactofructose are synonyms. Since over 40 years, the
pharmacodynamics of lactulose has made it an efficacious and very
safe medicine. So, galactofructose has had a long history of use both
in the pharmaceutical industry and in a more limited scope, in food.
In Asia (specifically Japan and Korea), it has already been used in
food applications for many years.
From legal aspects, galactofructose is recognized as a standard
nutritional food ingredient. The transit regulation effect has been
acknowledged by the European Authorities (EFSA), while the
bifidogenic effect has been accepted by Korean authorities (KFDA).
Several health properties of galactofructose open up new lines of
research, notably in the areas of mineral absorption and weight
Digestive Health: two benefits recognized by authorities
Galactofructose provides a more comfortable transit on healthy
people. This results from the combination of different effects, at
different levels of the intestinal tract. Before galactofructose is
used by the intestinal bacteria, it exerts an osmotic action in the
small intestine. It draws water into the intestinal lumen, thereby
increasing the mass of the stool. This in turn has a stimulating effect
on the intestinal musculature and stimulates the bowel movement.
In addition, in the colon, total biomass, stool volume and osmotic
pressure is increased and pH decreased, resulting in accelerated
bowel movement and shorter transit time.
A regular daily consumption of galactofructose optimizes
functioning of the intestinal tract by regulating intestinal transit.
Some factors in diet and lifestyle lead to small intestinal disorders,
such as occasional constipation states. Slow gut transit time causes
discomfort and has been proposed as a promoting factor to the
accumulation of toxic substances in the organism. Regulation of the
intestinal transit time, especially in people with slow transit, improves
overall well – being and quality of life.
The daily dose recommended by the authorities is 10g per day.
Very few side effects are observed. Transit effect of galactofructose
does not affect gastric emptying nor protein and lipid metabolism.
Galactofructose is obtained from the milk sugar lactose by
isomerisation of glucose to fructose, and consists of galactose linked
by ß-1,4-linkage to fructose. It is not defined as a fibre in Europe
because of its low degree of polymerization (DP2). However, it holds
many of the health benefits attached to fibres as the ß-1,4-linkage
between galactose and fructose cannot be degraded by animal or
human digestive enzymes.
As a result it remains undigested until it reaches the large intestine.
In the colon, galactofructose is the energy source for beneficial
saccharolytical bacteria like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli which can
metabolise it to produce short-chain fatty acids. Galactofructose acts
as a prebiotic within the colonic microflora, increasing numbers of
bifidobacteria and improving transit time in healthy volunteers: it is the
A number of human intervention studies have confirmed the
bifidogenic nature of galactofructose in healthy consumers. For
instance, in a 14 day(s) intervention study it stimulated bifidobacterial
growth at a dose of 3g/day. Conversely, the numbers of non-beneficial
bacteria Clostridium perfringens, Streptococcus spp, Bacteroides spp,
and the Enterobacteriaceae decreased significantly.
This bifidogenic effect initiates a number of gastrointestinal and
systemic health benefits that may be associated to a strengthened
immune system, improved intestinal barrier function and reduced
susceptibility to illness.
From the gut to diversified health benefits
The health effects of galactofructose are not limited to gut health as
it can also be used to stimulate calcium and magnesium absorption.
Clinical trials conducted in 24 healthy adult volunteers have shown that
when ingesting food containing 4g of galactofructose, 300mg calcium
and 150mg magnesium the absorption of calcium and magnesium is
Increased calcium absorption has also been observed in studies
conducted with postmenopausal women, where a 9-day(s) programme
of galactofructose consumption revealed higher levels of calcium in a
dose–response way. These results reinforce those of various animal
studies which show enhanced mineral absorption and improved bone
A recent study has also revealed the beneficial effect of
galactofructose on insulin resistance through stimulation of colonic
fermentation which reduced lipotoxicity.
Finally, scientific results support the idea that modulating gut
microbiota could be beneficial for managing weight issues and obesity.
Prebiotics and galactofructose in particular seem efficient at modifying
gut microflora and potentially achieving these effects.
Towards Health Claims of galactofructose
The market development of functional ingredients in Europe is
constricted by the need for their successful registration under the
Nutrition and Health Claims Legislation (EC1924/2006), based on the
recommendations of European Food Safety Authority, finalised in the
summer of 2011.
In the meantime, the strong body of science behind its functional
properties, its wide range of health benefits and the growing number
of potential product applications, all underpin galactofructose’s market
growth potential, as the market needs ingredients associated with
functional health benefits.
This food ingredient is now recognized by European authorities for
its beneficial effect on intestinal transit, with a daily dose of 10grams in
a portion. In its opinion, EFSA has thus confirmed a direct cause and
effect relationship between the consumption of galactofructose and a
return to normal transit time. In the view of the Authority, this reduction
of the transit time can be considered as a beneficial physiological
effect for the consumer. In this way, the galactofructose SOLACTIS®
becomes one of the first nutritional ingredients to have a digestive
health claim validated by the EFSA.
Bifidogenic benefits of galactofructose in food applications have
been recognized by the Korean authorities: Korean Food and Drug
From a regulatory point of view, galactofructose is recognized as
a standard nutritional food ingredient and thus is not a ’novel food’.
Therefore, it will enable food processing industries to develop new
products combining tasty recipes with two interesting intestinal health
claims: ‘transit regulate”, “bifidogenic effect”, depending where the
product will be developed.
Properties & Food Application
Galactofructose is commercially available either in liquid form as a
yellowish, odourless clear syrup, or in solid form as an amorphous
white powder, which is highly soluble in water. It has no taste but
exhibits a sweetness which is equivalent to 0,6-0,8 (the sweetness
of sucrose) and is very stable at both high temperature and low pH
A series of tests also have been performed on yoghurts, drink
yoghurts, multi-juice drinks and bakery products including cereal
bars, breakfast cereals and biscuits, to study the behaviour of
galactofructose during processing and its effect on sensory properties.
In every application it was shown to process well due to the solubility
of the powder and the well-balanced viscosity of the syrup.
The presence of galactofructose has no major effect on sensory
properties, colour and texture, so manufacturers can also consider
incorporating it in other applications such as beverages, fruit
preparations or in preparations for infants.
The digestive properties of galactofructose SOLACTIS® have
been known for more than 50 years and numerous studies have
confirmed that it has multiple health benefits as a food ingredient,
including selective stimulation of intestinal flora, transit regulation
and improvement of mineral absorption. Moreover, the improved
performance of SOLACTIS® offers significant added value for new
yoghurts, biscuits, beverages and similar products.
With the growing interest in functional foods, and especially in
the digestive health area, the quest for reliable health ingredients
has increased considerably during recent years. Galactofructose
SOLACTIS® offers excellent and scientifically tested functional
properties that go beyond its claims, offering a wide range of
applications for the development of new functional foods. Moreover,
the product is easy to formulate and has a pleasant sweet taste.
For more information or references contact:
Pascal Ronfard – Program Manager SOLVAY SA
Tel.: +33 1 40 75 81 50 firstname.lastname@example.org