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Dietary and functional fiber sources in foods

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Multiple types of fiber exist and may provide various benefits.

Dietary patterns are incredibly important to overall well-being. When consumption of particular food categories is inadequate, health may suffer. Despite knowing this, it doesn’t stop much of the U.S. population from consuming largely unhealthy or imbalanced meals, sometimes caused by growing up avoiding certain foods and maintaining that aversion into adulthood.

One branch of nutrition that isn’t getting enough love is fiber. A review into consumer education and consumption of fiber found only about 5% of American adults met official recommendations (Am J Lifestyle Med. 2016;11[1]:80-85). Making the data more personable, 19 of every 20 individuals are in the deficit, providing a large gap the natural products industry can help fill.

Multiple types of fiber exist and may provide various benefits. In terms of fiber listed on a nutrition label, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) divides the nutrient into two classifications: dietary fiber and functional fiber. Dietary fiber comprises foods with nondigestible carbohydrates and lignins—complex organic polymers in the cell wall of plants—naturally found in foods. Functional fibers are typically extracted from whole foods, then added into other foods, including processed foods. Both can be categorically broken down further as soluble fibers that blend with water to become gelatinous and insoluble fiber that does not blend with water, passing through the intestinal tract mostly intact. Most plants include both soluble and insoluble fibers to varying degrees. Two sources of fiber with value-added benefits that may help consumers increase their fiber intake are citrus and monk fruit.

This excerpt is part of a longer article in the “Gut check: Fiber fuels innovation” digital magazine. Click the link to read “Filling the fiber gap with citrus and monk fruit,” along with other articles on the fiber space.

A third-generation ingredient manufacturer for the natural products industry, Rob Brewster is proud to be part of the health and wellness world. He has followed in his grandfather’s and father’s footsteps, helping their company Brewster Foods grow since he joined in the 1990s, and then partnering with Syntech to form Ingredients by Nature, a global provider of citrus bioflavonoids and extracts. As president, Brewster takes pride in citrus science and continues to invest heavily in citrus flavonoid science for condition-specific applications and holistic wellness.

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