Prebiotic: a non-digestible substrate that has a positive effect on health by selectively stimulating the growth of beneficial microbes. This means that a prebiotic is a food source that cannot be used by human cells or pathogens but that can be used as food by microbes that help us.

Prebiotics are usually chains of sugars between 5 and 25 monosaccharide units long.

There are many different types of sugar. Normal table sugar (sucrose) is made of two monosaccharides (glucose and fructose). Sugar chains this short are very quickly and easily used as food by human cells and microbes. Freely available energy generally promotes the growth of opportunistic species (like pathogens). Longer chain sugars will only be available to species that are adapted to use them. This food requires more time and investment to digest and will only be available to species that have longer-term residence on skin. If we feed the beneficial species it means that they will be able to out-compete opportunistic species.

Esse uses Inulin, Fructo-Oligosaccharides (FOS) and Gluco-Oligosaccharides (GOS). These sugar chains have all shown prebiotic activity in the gut and on skin.

Inulin occurs naturally in many plant species. The fructose sugar chain can be from 10 to 60 monosaccharide units long. Inulin is sourced from either chicory root or blue agave. Esse prefers an average chain length of 20.

Fructo-Oligosaccharides (FOS) are often made from inulin and have similar sources. Esse often uses Yacon Root as a source of these important prebiotics.

α-gluco-oligosaccharides (GOS) are produced by enzymatic synthesis from maltose (corn) and saccharose (beetroot). The chain length used in Esse is 5 to 8 monosaccharide units.

Yacon Root (also known as Jicama root) (Polymnia sonchifolia) is produced from the juice pressed out of the tubers of this South American plant. The juice contains a high level of ß-Fructo-Oligosaccharides (FOS) and Inulin.

Staphylococcus aureus and Propionibacterium acnes cannot digest prebiotics, but it has been shown that some skin commensal species of Lactobacillus, Corynebacterium, Micrococcus and Staphylococcus epidermidis can use GOS, FOS or Inulin as food source.

Used in the BIOME+ products as a food source that favours the growth of beneficial microbes over opportunistic microbes.

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