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How oat beta-glucan can support the microbiome

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Optimising wellbeing from within: could oats be the answer?

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Oats carry a healthy image in the consumer mind, particularly when it comes to heart health.

Their wholesome appeal is well-founded as the benefits of oats have been firmly established by scientific research. In fact, the well-documented research around oat fibre, and particularly oat beta-glucan, has demonstrated its ability to support heart health, digestive health and glycaemic response.

Many of these benefits are supported by authorised claims in Europe and the USA. Much of this research and the ensuing health claims were built on a single oat bran ingredient: OatWellTM​.1,2

OatWellTM​, a Givaudan brand, has some of the strongest scientific and regulatory backings of any ingredient on the market. Its unique and proprietary production process retains the highest quality beta-glucans with a high molecular weight necessary for delivering health benefits.

But the role of oats in optimising wellbeing doesn’t end there. Mounting evidence is demonstrating the benefits of oat beta-glucan to effectively support the microbiome.3

Focusing inward: why the microbiome matters


The microbiome, a complex ecosystem of microorganisms residing in our bodies, has gained significant attention in recent years due to its crucial role in maintaining overall health and wellbeing. Composed of trillions of microorganisms, the microbiome interacts with our body's systems and plays a vital role in digestion, immune function, nutrient absorption, and even mental health.

Emerging research suggests that a healthy gut microbiome is not only essential for digestive health but also impacts cognitive function, mood regulation, and even stress. As a result, nurturing a balanced and diverse gut microbiome through diet and lifestyle choices has become a key focus for individuals.

More mindful than ever about their overall wellbeing, consumers are actively seeking ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle and are particularly interested in the vital role played by gut health. In fact, 70% of European consumers cite gut health and digestion as being among their top three health areas.4​ Similarly, 57% of US consumers actively seek out foods that encourage a healthy gut microbiome.5

With a deepening understanding of the connection between a balanced gut microbiome and various health benefits, consumers are increasingly prioritising gut health and digestion in their pursuit of optimal wellbeing. In response, many consumers are turning to foods they eat to nurture their gut health. This shift in consumer behaviour reflects a desire for holistic and natural approaches to wellness.

High quality oat bran ingredients, such as OatWellTM​, which contain both soluble and insoluble fibres, can act on digestive health in multiple ways, providing prebiotic benefits and promoting regularity.

In particular, with its already well-established credentials, oat beta-glucan, which acts as a prebiotic fibre, is poised to answer consumer demand for experiences that support gut health. 

Oat prebiotic fibre: an ingredient proven to support gut health

Prebiotics are substrates that are selectively used by beneficial host microorganisms in the gut. Prebiotics can be delivered in supplements as well as by many food sources, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains like wheat, oats, and barley.

Studies have shown that oat prebiotic fibre in particular acts as a nourishing substrate for beneficial gut bacteria, promoting their growth and activity. This in turn has been reported to support digestive health and even improve nutrient absorption. The soluble fibre present in oats selectively feeds the beneficial bacteria in the gut and supports a diverse and balanced microbiota. Research conducted on oat beta-glucan demonstrates that it meets three important criteria, confirming its status as a prebiotic fibre.

First, many in vitro​, ex vivo​ and even clinical trials have demonstrated how gut bacteria use oat beta-glucan. These studies measure short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) which are produced when gut bacteria break down the oat beta-glucan. The majority of these studies showed that oat beta-glucan helps produce a particular SCFA called propionate.6,7​ A 2021 study by Gudej found higher levels of SCFAs like acetate, propionate and butyrate when people consumed oat beta-glucan.6

Second, the same study by Gudej found that eating oat beta-glucan increased the amount of beneficial lactic acid bacteria in faeces. Another study also showed that consuming oat beta-glucan increased the number of two other healthy bacteria: bifidobacteria and lactobacilli.8

Third, the European Union has authorised certain health claims for oat fibre. One of these claims is that it helps increase faecal bulk and promotes the proper functioning of the gut. This is based on a study by Cummings published in 2001, which explained that when soluble fibre like oat beta-glucan is fermented by bacteria, it increases bacterial mass in faeces and thus water content because bacteria contains about 80% water.9

Applications: delivering nutritious and delightful food experiences


Whether they’re trying to improve overall wellbeing, balance their gut microbiome or reduce cholesterol, consumers don’t need to take a pill to enjoy these myriad benefits. Givaudan’s Oatwell™ oat bran ingredients can help consumers optimise their wellbeing through a wide range of satisfying and nutritious food experiences.

Oats are already a well-loved ingredient in cereals, but they can make a terrific addition in many applications, including bread, crackers, pasta, sweet baked goods and extruded snacks.

As the demand for healthy snacking options rises, consumers are looking for convenient, nutritious alternatives to traditional snacks. Oatwell™ has emerged as a valuable ingredient in the creation of extruded snacks. Oatwell™ brings together the perfect combination of health and indulgence by incorporating its exceptional nutritional profile into these popular snack choices. By adding Oatwell™ to extruded snacks like puffs, cereals and crackers, as well as other baked goods, manufacturers can meet the wellbeing goals of health-conscious consumers.

The Oatwell™ range offers varying levels of total dietary fibre, oat beta-glucan and protein content, as well as different particle sizes. Its unique characteristics make it easy to incorporate in application while meeting taste and nutritional targets for a truly satisfying consumer experience.

Sustainability: good for people and planet

In line with consumer expectations for environmentally friendly foods, Oatwell™ prioritises sustainability throughout its entire process, from sourcing to processing. By purchasing and processing oats locally, Oatwell™ significantly reduces overall CO2 emissions and transportation impact. The gentle fractionation method employed during processing preserves the native structure and high molecular weight of the oat beta-glucan, maximising its nutritional benefits.

Full traceability is maintained from Sweden and Finland, ensuring transparency and accountability throughout the entire supply chain. Oatwell™ contributes to soil fertility and structure preservation by cultivating oats as a low-demanding cereal well adapted to crop rotation cycles, thereby supporting biodiversity preservation. Farmers follow responsible agricultural practices with minimal use of pesticides and herbicides.

Waste handling is minimised by utilising rinse water from operations for fertilising fields and using semi-solid waste from oil extraction for biogas production. The plant where Oatwell™ is processed operates on renewable energy, where 75% of electricity is sourced sustainably.

Partner with Givaudan

Givaudan co-creates with its customers, transforming products into food experiences that do good and feel good for mind, body and planet. By offering ingredients like OatWell™,  customers can deliver the goodness of oats through food experiences with far-reaching benefits.

Learn more about leveraging the power of oats​ to create nutritious and delightful food experiences.

1.​ Ferguson J.; Stojanovski E.; MacDonald-Wicks L.; et al. 2019. High molecular weight oat β-glucan enhances lipid-lowering effects of phytosterols. A randomised controlled trial​. Clinical Nutrition, Volume 39, Issue 1.
2.​ Tosh SM, 2013. Review of human studies investigating the post-prandial blood-glucose lowering ability of oat and barley food products​. The European Journal of Nutrition.
3.​ Poeker, S.A., Geirnaert, A., Berchtold, L. et al. Understanding the prebiotic potential of different dietary fibers using an in vitro​ continuous adult fermentation model​. (PolyFermS). Sci Rep 8, 4318. 2018.
4.​ Givaudan Oats study in Europe, December 2021, 5 countries, (n=2123).
5.​ Kantar Profiles/Mintel, June 2020.
6. ​Gudej S.; Filip R.; Harasym J.; et. al. 2021. Clinical Outcomes after Oat Beta-Glucans Dietary Treatment in Gastritis Patients​. Nutrients, 13, 2791.
7. ​Nilsson U.; Johansson M.; Nilsson A.; et. al. 2008. Dietary supplementation with beta-glucan enriched oat bran increases faecal concentration of carboxylic acids in healthy subjects​. Eur J Clin Nutr. 62(8):978-84.
8. ​Duysburgh C.; Van den Abbeele P.; Alison Kamil A.; 2021. In vitro–in vivo Validation of Stimulatory Effect of Oat Ingredients on Lactobacilli​. Pathogens, 235.
9. Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to oat and​ barley grain fibre and increase in faecal bulk (ID 819, 822) pursuant to​ Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/20061​. European Food Safety Authority Journal 2011.