How to get benefits of dietary fiber without side effects

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Fiber-rich food is essential for gut health, but most Americans don’t get enough in their typical diet.

While fiber supplements can help, they can also cause unpleasant side effects such as excessive bloating and gas.

In two studies from the University of Illinois, scientists found how to make it easier for food manufacturers to amplify fiber in foods and beverages for health benefits without digestive discomfort.

The first study focuses on tolerance and side effects of non-digestible carbohydrates (NDC), an umbrella term for food components the body can’t break down.

The FDA determines if NDCs qualify as dietary fibers. To be a fiber, they must provide a health benefit. These benefits include things like helping with regularity and aiding in the absorption of calcium,

The recommended amount of dietary fiber is 14 grams per 1,000 kilocalories or 28 grams for a typical 2,000-kilocalorie daily diet. But only about 10% of adult women and 3% of men in the U.S. meet that daily recommendation.

In the study, the team reviewed findings from more than 100 clinical trials.

These trials tested a wide range of intakes, many of which were quite high, to determine how much of a certain fiber would be well tolerated. Few foods or diets currently contain these levels.

Overall, the team found that daily tolerance levels differ widely depending on the type of fiber and how it is consumed.

Tolerance can be as low as 4 grams for alginate (derived from brown algae) to 25 grams for soy fiber.

Individual differences depend on the gut microbiota (the microbes within our intestinal tract), so each person needs to find their own comfort level.

The second paper is a perspective article recommending study designs and methods to measure human tolerance to NDCs.

The paper comprises a comprehensive tool for planning future human fiber feeding studies.

The scientists included examples of daily and weekly subjective questionnaires in the online supplemental materials so others could easily access them for future studies.

The methods outlined in the paper will aid the formulation of fiber-rich foods by enabling relevant comparisons of different fiber types.

If you care about nutrition, please read studies that whole grain foods could help increase longevity, and vitamin D supplements strongly reduce cancer death.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about plant nutrients that could help reduce high blood pressure, and flavonoid-rich foods could improve survival in Parkinson’s disease.

The research was conducted by Annemarie Mysonhimer et al and published in Advances in Nutrition.

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