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Fiber Formulation Highlights Novel fibers, including prebiotics, are the fastest growing segment of the market for fiber ingredients Fibers used in foods are challenged by potential hygroscopy, the tendency to retain moisture. Many fiber sources can offer a mixture of insoluble and soluble fibers. Strengthening Products with Fiber Trends and challenges in the use of fiber and prebiotics in a range of natural products by Steve Myers F iber histor ically connotes strength and a cer tain roughness. It is positioned as the heart of a person's wor th. When someone has strong convict ion to do good, they are said to have good moral fiber. Others may call it strong fiber of character. When someone gives a task all he's got or stands up for his beliefs, he is said to do so with 'every fiber of his being.' Dietary fiber is not unlike its metaphorical cousin. Of ten called " roughage," dietary fiber is the indigestible portion of a plant. It is ingested in foods or supplements, but it is not digested like other nutrients. However, like other nutrients, f iber can undergo changes in the digest ive system, but instead of breaking down into nutrients that absorb into the bloodstream and other par ts of the body, fiber passes through to the large intestines and is affected only by water. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and ferments in bacteria colonies in the colon. This produces gases and shor t -chain fat ty acid byproducts that are proving benef icial themselves. In addition, soluble fiber can bind to bile acids, preventing them from being absorbed, and can slow the emptying of the stomach, causing sugars to be absorbed more slowly. For i ts par t, insoluble f iber does not dissolve in water, but absorbs water as it passes through the digestive tract. This adds bulk to the stool, which helps to keep the digestive process moving along and promotes healthy elimination. On the sur face, fiber seems mar r ied Teresa Yazbek, U.S. vice president and technical sales director for Nexira, noted average consumers may know more about fiber, but they might not know exactly all the benefits; they do seem to know it is part of a healthier diet. A new study from Tate and Lyle (conducted by third-party Dietary fiber is not research firm Illuminas in 2011) revealed conflicting consumer awareness. While 90 percent of Americans see digestive health as a top health priority, only half think they need more fiber in their diets; the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a fiber intake of 25 g/d to 30 g/d, but notes average intake among Americans is around 15 g/d. The survey also found more than half of consumers polled always or usually read ingredient labels, with three out of 10 consumers looking specifically for fiber content. Cathy Arnold is a senior formulation unlike its metaphorical cousin. Often called "roughage," dietary fiber is the indigestible portion of a plant. to digestive health, and that is what most consumers first know of the value of dietary fiber. Cheryl Sturm, director of marketing for Embria Health Sciences, said mature brands such as Metamucil have helped to establish a strong link between fiber and digestive health. "The average consumer has l i t tle knowledge regarding types of It is ingested in foods or supplements, but it is not digested like other nutrients. f ibers, but does know that ' fiber is good for me,'" she said. "Primary grocery shoppers and those consumers more invested in self- health may have a broader knowledge due to package claims associating oats and heart health as well as others making an association with immune health claims." 36 INSIDER ¥ APRIL 2012 scient ist for For t i tech Inc., a premix suppl ier. From this perspective, dealing mostly with formulators, she spots clues to consumer trends in the requests Fortitech gets from cl ients, typically formulators. What she has found shows the increasing depar ture from the ear l ier digest ion- only consumer mindset. "It seems that products addressing hear t health through cholesterol management are clearly in demand and that the consumer mindset on fiber is heavily focused on this area due in great par t to the awareness created by consumer media," she said. "While we have seen heart health as a key driver in terms of formulation requests, formulation for weight management products is also in high demand." However, Arnold questions how much the average consumer understands the role fiber plays in weight management. " It would be interest ing to see how many people on the street, so to speak, understand the term 'satiety' and what it means for this product category." Fortitech is also seeing an increase in formulation requests for products that address immunity by optimizing gut health. "As more consumers understand and embrace the concept of the role that digestive health plays in overall health and wellness, the market for fiber-enhanced products will continue to grow." FIBER&PREBIOTICS