Improving dietary fibre intake for better all-round health

Products with Sunfiber can boost fibre consumption, even in those with digestive sensitivity

For a variety of reasons, the market for foods that are rich in dietary fibre is highly dynamic.

Adequate consumption is linked to a reduced risk of nutrition-related diseases — such as obesity, hypertension and coronary heart disease — and public awareness of the diverse, health-promoting effects of dietary fibre is growing.

A diet rich in fibre could save many people from gaining weight because it reduces blood glucose levels after eating and keeps them constant for a longer period of time. The body also requires less insulin. As a result, there is a prolonged feeling of satiety, which delays the recurrence of hunger signals.

In addition, food that’s rich in fibre has to be chewed for longer and more intensively, which leads to a more lasting feeling of fullness. Furthermore, a high level of fibre consumption boosts the production of digestive juices, leading to a general stimulation of intestinal movement. Transit time is shortened, thereby counteracting haemorrhoids and feelings of bloating.

Current studies show that dietary fibre can prevent colon and prostate cancer because carcinogenic substances are diluted and pollutants are excreted faster.1

The human body is not able to break down dietary fibre enzymatically, which is why it reaches the large intestine intact. Once it reaches the large intestine, fibre is used as a substrate for the fermentation of intestinal flora bacteria such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. These bacteria are thus encouraged to grow and thrive as they increase stool volume and help to prevent constipation.

A healthy intestinal flora is essential for a fully functional immune system. In a healthy body, the short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) acetate, propionate and butyrate are formed during the fermentation of dietary fibre. These are partially resorbed and transported to the liver where they inhibit the formation of cholesterol, thus contributing to reduced cholesterol levels. These SCFAs also provide cell membranes with energy and improve the absorption of minerals.

Why dietary fibre is so important

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a daily intake of 30 g of dietary fibre per day. In most European countries, however, average consumption rates are far below this recommended level.

Considering the fibre content of popular foods (avocado = approx. 7 g per 100 g, apples = approx. 2 g per slice), as well as modern eating habits and taste preferences, many consumers of Western diets aren’t eating enough whole grains, legumes, fruits or vegetables, all of which are important sources of fibre.2,3

Therefore, the fortification or supplementation of foods and beverages with dietary fibre offers a promising approach to improving fibre intake — and, consequently, the overall health — of the general population.

The Japanese company Taiyo has pioneered dietary fibre research for more than 20 years and develops and produces many different functional ingredients. Offering new ways to close the fibre gap, its Sunfiber ingredient, which is a water soluble guar bean fibre, provides a simple way to increase everyday fibre consumption, combining an excellent taste profile with all the nutritional benefits and health-boosting properties of dietary fibre.

Supporting health and well-being

Sunfiber is a soluble prebiotic fibre that has all the nutritional benefits of dietary fibre. It helps to improve the activity and reproduction rates of beneficial probiotics within the gastrointestinal tract, including Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, which are indispensable for efficient and healthy gut flora and thus for overall health and well-being.

In addition, the fermentation rate of Taiyo’s ingredient is very slow, which means that it doesn’t result in painful gas, cramping or discomfort.

As well as helping to ensure healthy digestion, Sunfiber also offers a number of clinically substantiated health benefits for the entire body. For example, when consumed with a meal, Sunfiber improves the absorption of minerals such as calcium and magnesium (Figure 1).4

Figure 1: Influence of Sunfiber on calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) absorption rates

Furthermore, it slows down and reduces the absorption of fat, cholesterol and sugar.5 Sunfiber is even clinically proven to lower the glycaemic index, contributing to stabilised blood glucose levels. For this reason, it has achieved a Health Claim for lowering blood glucose levels by 20% after a meal from the Canadian Health Authorities.

Bridging the low FODMAP gap

Another benefit of Sunfiber is that it is suitable for those who follow a low FODMAP diet, including people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). FODMAP stands for “fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols,” which are poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates such as lactose, fructose, sugar alcohols such as sorbitol and many other non-digestible carbohydrates found in fruits and vegetables.

FODMAP components are fermented by gut flora and this process is believed to be the cause of gastrointestinal complaints such as bloating, gas, diarrhoea, constipation and cramping in sensitive patients. In a clinical study published in 2010, the positive effect of a low FODMAP diet on the symptoms of functional diseases such as IBS was reported.6

A diet low in FODMAP compounds such as dietary fibres is therefore often recommended for patients with digestive sensitivity, especially those with IBS. However, removing dietary fibre also takes away the foundations for good intestinal health. In this case, Sunfiber can fill the nutritional void by supplying soluble and prebiotic dietary fibres that are compatible with a low FODMAP diet and suitable for people with digestive sensitivity, including those with IBS.

Natural ingredient, multiple certifications

Sunfiber is made from guar, a naturally occurring raw material, and supplied as a versatile powder. It’s easy to incorporate into existing formulations and suitable for use in a variety of foods and beverages, including bakery, dairy products and confectionery, as well as meat and savoury foods.

Many consumers of Western diets aren’t eating enough whole grains, legumes, fruits or vegetables, all of which are important sources of fibre

Other potential applications include dietary supplements and regular, instant or ready to drink beverages. Furthermore, it has no discernible organoleptic impact on the flavour, colour, consistency or aroma of the products to which it’s added.

Being 100% soluble, the ingredient mixes perfectly in water as well as other hot and cold beverages, including smoothies. Producing a healthy satiety effect, it is also an excellent ingredient for medical nutrition diets and special diet foods. Sunfiber is available in different qualities, depending on the desired application and claims. It is stable at various pH levels and resistant to heat and thaw cycles.

For Taiyo, naturalness along the whole supply chain is incredibly important, beginning with the fact that the guar plant seeds are grown in fields that are free from chemical treatment. During processing, no preservatives are used or added. Furthermore, the ingredient is organic, non-GMO and gluten-free. It’s all-natural, Kosher and Halal certified, and 100% suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Compliant with US labelling requirements

In May 2016, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strengthened its labelling rule for fibre. As a result of this process, FDA created a new definition for dietary fibre — changing it from being just an analytical and methodological definition to the fact that the fibre should deliver actual, clinically substantiated benefits in healthy humans. As a consequence, only five fibres now fulfil this new FDA definition — and Sunfiber is one of these, having shown enough scientific evidence to be classed as a “true dietary fibre.”

Now, countless food, beverage and supplement manufacturers have to confirm that their formulas containing non-FDA-compliant fibre meet the new requirements. Otherwise, these products will have to be relabelled as containing “carbohydrate” rather than fibre. Products containing Sunfiber, however, can be confidently promoted as being compliant without having to change anything.

References

1. World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective: www.aicr.org/assets/docs/pdf/ reports/Second_Expert_Report.pdf.

2. www.bmel.de/DE/Ernaehrung/GesundeErnaehrung/_Texte/NationaleVerzehrsstudie_Zusammenfassung.html.

3. www.dge.de/presse/pm/ballaststoffe-kein-ueberfluessiger-ballast.

4. H. Hara, et al., “Increases in Calcium Absorption with Ingestion of Soluble Dietary Fibre, Guar-Gum Hydrolysate, Depend on the Caecum in Partially Nephrectomised and Normal Rats,” British Journal of Nutrition 76, 773–784 (1996).

5. M.P. Kapoor, et al., “Soluble Dietary Fibre Partially Hydrolysed Guar Gum Markedly Impacts on Postprandial Hyperglycaemia, Hyperlipidaemia and Incretins Metabolic Hormones Over Time in Healthy and Glucose Intolerant Subjects,” Journal of Functional Foods 24, 207–220 (2016).

6. P.R. Gibson and S.J. Shepherd, “Evidence-Based Dietary Management of Functional Gastrointestinal Symptoms: The FODMAP Approach,” J. Gastroenterology Hepatic. 25(2), 252–258 (2010).

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