Seaweeds are potentially sustainable crops and are receiving significant interest because of their rich bioactive compound content; including fatty acids, polyphenols, carotenoids, and complex polysaccharides. However, there is little information on the in vivo effects on gut health of the polysaccharides and their low‐molecular‐weight derivatives. Herein, we describe the first investigation into the prebiotic potential of low‐molecular‐weight polysaccharides (LMWPs) derived from alginate and agar in order to validate their in vivo efficacy. We conducted a randomized; placebo‐controlled trial testing the impact of alginate and agar LWMPs on faecal weight and other markers of gut health and on composition of gut microbiota. We show that these LMWPs led to significantly increased faecal bulk (20–30%). Analysis of gut microbiome composition by sequencing indicated
no significant changes attributable to treatment at the phylum and family level, although FISH analysis showed an increase in Faecalibacterium prausnitzii in subjects consuming agar LMWP. Sequence analysis of gut bacteria corroborated with the FISH data, indicating that alginate and agar LWMPs do not alter human gut microbiome health markers. Crucially, our findings suggest an urgent need
for robust and rigorous human in vivo testing—in particular, using refined seaweed extracts.
- : faecal bulk; seaweed; bacteriome; health benefits