What is chicory?
Chicory is a blue flowering plant belonging to the dandelion family. Its root is a great source of inulin, a type of prebiotic. Inulin is also found in wheat, onions, bananas, garlic and asparagus.
As onions and garlic are toxic to dogs and wheat can trigger an adverse food reaction, we use inulin from chicory root. We use chicory root in nearly all of our dry dog and cat food range, wet dog food products and our Healthy Digestion supplement, which comes in a liquid form rather than a tablet.
The Science Bit!
Chicory root contains inulin. This belongs to the fructo-oligosaccharide or FOS family of oligosaccharides. Oligosaccharides are a natural sugar carbohydrate found in many plants. Unlike other carbohydrates, the enzymes in the digestive system struggle to break down oligosaccharides and most of them reach the colon undigested.
They then act as a food substance to help the beneficial bacteria thrive. Studies (Swanson, 2002) showed diets supplemented with FOS prebiotics increased the amount of the anti-body immunoglobulin A (meaning a healthier immune system) and decreased faecal odour. Inulin also acts as a dietary fibre source slowing down the time it takes for food to get from one end the gut to the other, allowing the body to absorb more nutrients and helping the human or animal feel fuller for longer.
In simpler terms
When it comes to the digestive system, prebiotics are broken down (fermented) by the bacteria in the large intestine and used like a fertilizer or energy source to encourage healthy/beneficial bacterial growth.
Why does beneficial bacteria matter?
Prebiotics effect the levels, species and activity of beneficial bacteria in the gut which in turn can have a positive effect on digestion.
Beneficial bacteria can help the digestive system by:
Producing certain vitamins, including Vitamin K (required for blood clotting).
Helping to breakdown and digest food.
Aiding the absorption of nutrients.
Making the environment in the gut less favourable for harmful bacteria.
Positively affecting and regulating the immune system.
Chicory in Vet’s Kitchen