Savvy consumers and health professionals know that fiber is an essential nutrient associated with important health benefits, yet barriers such as overall poor tolerance to higher-fiber diets may be why average intake is far less than experts recommend. Two new research studies supported by Tate & Lyle, the global provider of specialty food ingredients and solutions, provide further evidence that certain higher-fiber diets can in fact be well tolerated and that fiber may play an important role in supporting a healthy gut as well as promoting calcium absorption.
Fiber’s impact on gut health and calcium absorption
A new study presented at the 14th International Symposium on Microbial Ecology (ISME14) in Copenhagen, Denmark, sheds light on how fiber in the diet affects the gut environment. The digestive tract is lined with communities of beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, which help keep the gut healthy. Some fibers, when consumed, are fermented in the colon where beneficial bacteria in the gut use them as a prebiotic food source.
"This study in adolescents shows an increase in specific beneficial bacteria—namely, bifidiobacteria, parabacterioidetes and alistipes . Furthermore, this is the first study to show that parabacterioidetes, and alistipes were significantly correlated with the observed increase in calcium absorption," said Cindy H. Nakatsu, professor of agronomy at Purdue University, who directed the microbiota work on this camp calcium study led by Connie Weaver, Ph.D., distinguished professor in nutrition at Purdue University. "This is important because these data begin to provide evidence for the mechanism by which soluble corn fiber helps increase the observed calcium absorption and, adolescents everywhere could benefit from more fiber and calcium in their diets.”
In this crossover study, 23 adolescents 12 to 15 years old were given controlled diets over two three-week sessions separated by a one-week washout period. The diets were identical with the exception that the test diet included daily consumption of a product that had 12 grams of soluble corn fiber. Researchers found that consuming the test diet with soluble corn fiber helped increase several strains of beneficial bacteria in the gut. In addition, researchers found that consumption of the fiber changed the gut environment which appeared to have enabled greater calcium absorption.
"We still need more research to understand the interplay between diet and gut health, however, the observed increases in what we believe to be some of the most important beneficial bacteria may contribute to overall gut health. In addition, the increase in calcium absorption could contribute to long-term benefits for bone health, although this potential benefit requires further research," said Nakatsu.
Decades of research support the health benefits of fiber, but the fact remains that both children and adults consume far less than the recommended 19 to 38 grams per day. Recently published research in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics took a deeper look at tolerance of soluble corn fiber, also known as soluble gluco fiber in Europe.
In a randomized, controlled, crossover study of 20 healthy adults, subjects were given soluble corn fiber administered as a single bolus dose and in multiple doses spread throughout the day. Up to a 40-gram single dose of soluble corn fiber and a 65-gram daily total were well-tolerated among subjects—amounts exceeding the daily recommendations for fiber and far exceeding average actual daily intake.
"Together, these exciting new studies counter the popular notion that increasing fiber intake is laden with gastrointestinal side effects," said Priscilla Samuel, PhD, director of global nutrition for Tate & Lyle. "Products made with soluble corn fiber, also known as soluble gluco fiber, can easily help people increase fiber while providing potential gut health and calcium absorption benefits.”
PROMITOR™ Soluble Corn Fiber (Soluble Gluco Fiber in Europe) is an ingredient developed by Tate & Lyle as a way to boost the fiber content of foods and increase people's intake of fiber. Research shows that PROMITOR Soluble Corn Fiber is well tolerated, and emerging research suggests prebiotic properties and other health benefits including promoting calcium absorption, potentially leading to bone health benefits. Soluble corn fiber can be easily incorporated into a variety of food products, including packaged foods, dairy products, beverages, frozen foods and more.