October 6, 2022

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24 Aug 2022 — Netherlands-based WholeFiber is introducing its prebiotic WholeFiber, touted as a super prebiotic fiber source that is natural and made from dried, minimally processed chicory root.
NutritionInsight speaks to experts from the company who delve on how the prevalent fiber gap among consumers can be tackled as well as the ingredient’s effects on health and wellness.
“We are facing a global health threat, fast increase of so-called ‘lifestyle diseases.’ There is a clear connection between western diets and these diseases. In the average western diet, there is a so-called fiber gap,” says Marianne van Es, chief commercial officer and managing director at WholeFiber.
“People are failing to adhere to the recommendations for dietary fiber intake, which could impact global health. An adequate fiber intake can reduce the risk of many diseases such as colorectal cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease.”
WholeFiber is a minimally processed fiber-rich vegetable, which naturally contains over 85% of prebiotic dietary fiber, explains Iris Rijnaarts-Modder, manager of clinical developments and implementations at Whole Fiber.
“WholeFiber is produced in the Netherlands where we grow our roots of the Chicorium intybus L. and turn them into crunchy WholeFiber cubes. The product is a mix of prebiotic fibers: inulin, pectin, hemicellulose and cellulose.”
Food applications
The company adds that due to the minimal processing, WholeFiber has the fibers in intact plant cells, which make them fermented by the “good bacteria” all through the colon than most other fiber supplements, leading to significant health effects.
According to WholeFiber, prebiotic fiber consumption lowers the prevalence of depression and mental health problems.“The industry can use WholeFiber to develop new products and improve consumers’ health. Examples of usage of WholeFiber are adding bread, granola, muesli, bars or other foods, but can also be used in its current form in salads, soups or as a topping,” details Rijnaarts-Modder.
The company details that the clinical validation program of the fiber confirmed that WholeFiber increased the relative abundance of Bifidobacterium by three-fold and Anaerostipes by three to fourfold.
Furthermore, it significantly affected short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) production (increased by 19%) and butyrate levels (increase by 26%), the company adds.
“Positive health effects reflected these changes in the gut microbiota: an improved stool regularity, glucose control and insulin sensitivity was seen in people at risk for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus,” says van Es. “This is in contrast to most other prebiotic fibers, which do not have clear effects on butyrate levels or glucose control.”
Fiber fortification potential
The company details that although several initiatives exist to help people increase their fiber intake, such as personalized dietary advice, promotion of “whole foods instead of ultra-processed foods, and what is called “back to the roots,” reaching large groups of consumers and meeting this fiber recommendation remains difficult.
Considering the fiber gap, it was previously noted that a typical 2,000-calorie diet makes it difficult to consume the recommended amount of fiber. However, this presents a chance for the industry to capitalize on the market for fiber fortification by filling in the gaps in consumer diets.
As WholeFiber is made up of intact plant cell particles, its prebiotic fibers and other nutrients are gradually released, influencing the microbiome throughout the gut.According to WholeFiber, the human gut is connected to the brain via millions of neurons, which has a highly bidirectional relationship, the so-called gut-brain axis.
“The vagus nerve is an important player in the gut-brain axis. The gut microbiota can send signals to the vagus nerve, which can in turn influence inflammation processes, among others, in the body. It is theorized that mental well-being can be affected by modulating the gut microbiota,” Rijnaarts-Modder explains.
“Research has shown that people with major depressive disorders have a different gut microbiota profile compared to people without these depressive disorders.”
Modulating gut microbiome through diet
Diet is one of the main environmental factors that can modulate the gut microbiota (microbiome), explains van Es.
“African and Asian populations with diets high in plant-based foods and dietary fiber have a different gut microbiota profile compared to populations with a Western diet, which is high in processed foods, energy, fat and animal food sources.”
Dietary fibers, especially prebiotic fibers, are essential in this effect on the microbiota and have additional health benefits compared to regular dietary fiber, details Rijnaarts-Modder.
“Prebiotic fibers can improve stool pattern by softening the stool and by bulking the fecal mass. They are fermented in the colon by the gut microbiota, which produces SCFA, among which acetate, propionate and butyrate are the most predominant.”
Butyrate is an energy source for the colonic epithelium and has anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing effects.
“Furthermore, butyrate can positively influence blood glucose control in Type 2 diabetes mellitus patients, decrease hunger feeling, help to maintain healthy weight prevent a so-called “leaky gut” increasing immunity and preventing infections,” van Es concludes.
By Nicole Kerr
This feature is provided by FoodIngredientsFirst’s sister website, NutritionInsight.
To contact our editorial team please email us at editorial@cnsmedia.com
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