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Personalization for fiber supplements necessary? Researchers and Sensus weigh in

2022-08-10 foodingredientsfirst



Despite the type of supplement taken, people who consume a lot of fiber show the least changes in their microbiomes. This is according to research from US-based Duke University, which recently investigated if it is necessary to “personalize” fiber supplements to different people in light of the wide range of supplements on the market.


Previously, different fermentable fibers have been shown to have different effects on the production of short-chain fatty acids depending on the individual. The research analyzed inulin, dextrin (Benefiber), and galactooligosaccharides (GOS) sold under the brand name Bimuno.

The most important point here, that dietary fiber is beneficial has been known for a long time. Our studies have added a bit of nuance, but we still have a long way to go on the very basic public health task of getting people to eat more fiber,” Zack Holmes, lead study author, tells NutritionInsight.

NutritionInsight also spoke with experts from Sensus who note that fibers work differently.

“Prebiotics are special dietary fibers that feed the good bacteria growing in the digestive system. These types of fiber provide nutrients to the bacteria, supporting health benefits to the digestive and immune systems. Prebiotics, like inulin, can be found in, for example, bananas, asparagus and flaxseed,” says Jolanda Vermulst, manager of market intelligence at Sensus.

“However, when our diets don’t contain enough of these sources, supplements are another way to add to this type of diversity,” Vermulst adds.

Fermentable fiber crucial for gut
People who had been eating the least amount of fiber before the study showed the most significant benefit from supplements, regardless of which ones they consumed, according to a rigorous analysis of the gut microbes of study participants who were fed three different kinds of supplements in different sequences.

Short-chain fatty acids are produced in greater quantities by the gut microbiota when it has fiber to eat.“For years now, consumer surveys have shown that consumers are aware of the health benefits that fiber can provide, but they do not know how much fiber is recommended daily and rarely eat enough fiber,” Vermulst.

The researchers add that fermentable fiber, which is composed of dietary carbohydrates that some bacteria can digest but which the human gut cannot, is a crucial source of nutrients for the health of your gut flora.

Short-chain fatty acids, which guard against gastrointestinal illnesses, colorectal cancers, and obesity, are produced more significantly by the gut microbiota when it has fiber to eat.

In particular, they make more of the fatty acid butyrate, fueling the intestinal cells. Butyrate has been demonstrated to increase the host’s intestines’ resistance to infections, reduce inflammation and produce healthier intestinal lining cells.

Examining the effect of different supplements
The 28 participants were divided into three groups and given each of the three supplements in a different order for one week. There was a week off from consuming supplements to allow individuals’ guts to return to their pre-supplement states.

Sensus adds that when diets don’t contain enough fiber, supplements are another way to add diversity to the gut flora.Contrarily, regardless of which supplement was taken, those who had been ingesting the least fiber experienced the biggest increase in butyrate.

Regarding participants who consumed the least fiber and had a better outcome from the supplements, Holmes explains that the “microbiota may influence it in participants who had been consuming the least fiber were starved of a key nutrient, so as soon as we added that nutrient, they responded quickly.”

“In contrast, the microbiota in participants who already ate a lot of fiber were already sitting around a big buffet table. Adding a bit more food to the top of that table didn’t change the fact that they already had lots of available nutrients.”

Gummy space expands
Sensus adds that chicory root fiber is increasingly used and works well in supplement gummies.

“Combining inulin and oligofructose provides the proper texture for the gummies without needing to add sugar or calories to the final product,” says Vermulst.

“A developer can create not only a supplement gummy with a plant-based prebiotic and better nutrition profile but also one that has a good taste and texture. For consumers, gummies are an accessible and tasty way to take a fiber supplement.”


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