Dr Ieva Laurie, principle scientist EMEA at Tate & Lyle, has told NutraIngredients 'the future for fibre is bright' and brands must tap into the opportunity with product enrichment.
“With the expanding science behind fibre and its influence on the microbiome, and new exciting benefits such as bone health, potential benefits related to immunity, and even a possible correlation between gut health and the brain, the future for fibre is bright,” she said.
She adds that Tate & Lyle research has found that consumers of all ages and from all regions want to increase their fibre intake but the motivation for this does differ dependent on the age of the consumer.
"Younger consumers seek fibre for weight management benefits whereas older consumers tend to seek digestive health benefits. They also recognise the weight management benefits such as satiety and glycaemic response."
She says consumers are also slowly becoming more aware of their daily-recommended intakes and widespread deficiencies.
“Fibre intakes in Europe are worryingly low which is a major own-goal for public health as experts agree that it is one of the most beneficial nutrients that people can add to their diet. Tate & Lyle research shows that almost half (44%) of consumers in Europe want to add more fibre to their diet.
"In the UK, the highest contributor to fibre intake across all ages is cereals and cereal products (contributing to around 40% daily fibre intake), followed by vegetables (30%) and fruit (10%). Increasing these foods as well as manufacturers enriching other food categories with fibres may be a way to increase dietary fibre in our diets. Importantly, a variety of fibres should be incorporated in the diet as different fibres provide different benefits."
Dr Laurie adds that fibre’s popularity has been boosted by the fact people are more aware of the importance of having a healthy gut.
She says consumers don’t necessarily understand the difference between prebiotics and probiotics, but a growing percentage of them recognise that both are important for gut health, and have a generally positive association with them.
“An exciting and emerging area of science around fibres is their potential to modulate gut microbiota and the gut microbiome. With technological advances, the role of gut microbiota for various health benefits such as gut-brain-axis, immunity, as well as metabolic function, are becoming clear.
"The gut is often termed ‘the second brain’ because the composition of a person’s gut microbiota, the community of micro-organisms residing in the body, can change the signals that are sent from the gut to the brain, which can activate processes in the immune system and nervous system, for instance."
Kevin Armstrong, Health & Wellness Product Manager EMEA at Tate & Lyle, says that, in terms of enrichment, yoghurts with added fibre claims are becoming more prevalent.
He explains: "This is a great fit for some of the other health benefits now associated with fibre consumption. For many consumers, the association between some yoghurt products and gut health is already well established and the addition of fibres should enhance this already positive link."
Despite the growing interest, Dr Laurie says brands still must work to educate consumers further in order to best benefit from their fibre enriched products.
Dr Laurie adds that Tate and Lyle does this through nutrition education seminars, its company websites and via on-pack information.
Products that contain at least 3g of fibre per 100g or at least 1.5g of fibre per 100 kcal can include a ‘source of fibre’ claim on-pack, and those with a ‘high fibre’ claim must contain at least 6g of fibre per 100g or at least 3g of fibre per 100 kcal.
Promitor for fibre enrichment
Promitor Soluble Fibre is a corn based soluble fibre with over two times the digestive tolerance of inulin, reducing the possibility of digestive discomfort.
“Human studies have shown that up to 65g of Promitor Soluble Fibre is well tolerated in a daily diet, which is more than twice the daily amount of recommended intake of fibre per day (Housez B et al., Evaluation of digestive tolerance of a soluble corn fibre. J Hum Nutr Diet 2012).”