Honing A Strong Gut For Longevity
Tuesday, October 5th, 2021
The importance of having a strong immunity and staying healthy has been brought to the forefront of consumers’ minds as they gradually adjust to life in the middle of a pandemic. By Christian Philippsen, Managing Director, BENEO Asia Pacific.
A key component to good overall health is having sufficient dietary fibre intake. Although a vast majority of the world’s population is still not meeting their daily fibre requirement*, many consumers are proactively looking for convenient food and drinks that carry this ingredient.
In fact, recent research estimates that the global dietary fibre market is set to flourish over the coming years—being worth $10.77 billion by 2028—with Asia Pacific expected to witness the highest growth rate due to rising health awareness*.
To cater to this growing consciousness, it is important for food manufacturers to further understand the benefits of dietary fibres, and how they can contribute to one’s overall wellbeing.
Bridging The Fibre Divide
With rapid modernisation and urbanisation across Asia, lifestyle choices are increasingly being driven by convenience. Higher affluence brings about more food choices for consumers, but the need for fast and hassle-free options mean that they rarely discern between these options.
A lifestyle driven by convenience has also led many consumers to increase their consumption of processed food as they choose easy-to-prepare meals and on-the-go food—which are typically low in fibre—over freshly prepared meals, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables that contribute to a well-balanced diet.
However, this does not mean that processed food or any other pre-prepared food has to be unhealthy. With the right choice of ingredients, a healthy digestive system can be achieved while being fit for people’s busy lifestyles. A case in point are dietary fibres.
Fundamentally, digestive health is closely linked with dietary fibre. The World Health Organization recommends a daily intake of approximately 25 grams of dietary fibre, or at least 400 grams of fruits and vegetables to ensure adequate daily intake of dietary fibre*. In addition, many studies have shown the benefits of a diet with sufficient fibre intake, including supporting bowel movement and general well-being, contributing to weight management*, as well as better blood sugar management*. Further health benefits can also be observed in the lowering of blood cholesterol and the reduction of the risk of coronary heart diseases*.
Immunity and digestive health are also closely linked, with 70 percent of our inner defence system situated in the small and large intestine. It is no surprise that good health and inner protection starts with promoting beneficial gut microbiota, which can be nourished by prebiotic fibres.
Even though all dietary fibres are non-digestible, they differ in the way they function in the large intestine. When the fermentation of fibres allows a selective increase of healthy microbiota, they are classified as prebiotic fibres. The fermentation of such prebiotic fibres leads to a selective increase of healthy microbiota which in turn positively influences digestive health. Not only do these fibres have a positive influence on our gut micro flora by supporting selectively those bacteria regarded as “good bacteria”; they also contribute to a better regulated transit and a higher stool frequency and therefore overall health.
Only very few dietary fibres are scientifically and clinically proven to have this capability. Chicory root fibre (inulin, oligofructose) belong to this exclusive group of prebiotic fibres. Furthermore, they are the only plant-based proven prebiotics.
When Functionality Meets Health
BENEO’s chicory root fibres, inulin and oligofructose, can be easily used in most food and drink applications, thus increasing the health benefits of these foods. Obtained from chicory root via a gentle hot water extraction method, inulin and oligofructose are classified as ingredients from natural origin and can be labelled as fibre from a natural source. This is especially crucial to consumers today, who actively look for natural products when making food purchase decisions.
Additionally, there are also technical benefits to be reaped from the addition of these prebiotic fibres. BENEO’s prebiotic chicory root fibre is easily incorporated to increase fibre content, provide body and mouthfeel and help reduce sugar naturally. Oligofructose, the short-chain component of inulin, is used in conjunction with high intense sweeteners to help mask undesired off-tastes as it has a mild and pleasant taste and can reduce sugar. Inulin on the other hand, has fat-mimicking properties which allows it to be used to replace part of the fat content in foods. Manufacturers are therefore able to create reduced sugar or reduced fat versions of their food without any major changes in texture and taste. Both inulin and oligofructose help to bridge the fibre divide by increasing dietary fibre consumption in people of all ages.
Consumers have already begun to make the link between gut health, and overall health and well-being. They are more motivated to improve their digestive health to improve specific health issues—such as improving their natural defences and therefore their long-term health.
There is clearly an appetite for products that promote good digestive health among consumers, and now functional ingredients manufacturers such as BENEO are creating very real ways for food and drink producers to make the most of this trend. With so many consumers looking at ways to promote their digestive health, the market is wide open for new product development for healthier indulgent food.
*References available upon request
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