by Deborah Dihel
EXTENDING BENEFITS OF DIGESTIVE HEALTH
In the 1970s, we witnessed
some of the first television ads that associated dairy products such as
yogurt with health, vitality and longevity.
In one ad, we witnessed a senior citizen as
attributing a long life to daily servings of yogurt; in another, we
witnessed the stamina of a mountain climber, thanks to the benefits of
yogurt. These and other mass media ads that followed have helped to
substantially educate the American consumer about the significant benefits
that can be delivered from dairy products.
Now more than ever, Americans are open to consuming
food products that can supply health benefits in a consumer-appealing
format. By all accounts, the rising number of health-conscious Americans
affords the dairy industry new opportunities to capitalize on products
formulated for health benefits. Makers of yogurt, cottage cheese, milkshake
formulas, puddings and other dairy products may now want to consider the
options available for enriching products with ingredients demonstrated to
play a beneficial role in the area of digestive health.
Soluble fiber is one such ingredient. Clinical studies
have shown that consuming dextrin-based soluble fiber will increase
beneficial saccharolytic flora in the digestive system and at the same time
decrease potentially harmful Clostridium perfringens. This research finding
allows dairy food product formulators to consider a digestion benefit claim
in finished products. Beyond the production of “friendly
flora,” dextrin-based fiber is also known to increase beneficial
Perhaps the most important benefit associated with
dextrin-based soluble fiber can be found in the large intestine, where it
induces the production of short-chain fatty acids, a known biomarker for
colonic health. Because dextrin-based soluble fiber ferments relatively
slowly, short-chain fatty acids can be released into the gut and absorbed
as energy over a sustained period of time. All of these benefits combined
make a compelling case for the enrichment of dairy products with select
forms of fiber ingredients.
Dairy formulators, fully aware of the digestive
tolerance issues experienced by some populations, will want to take great
care in selecting soluble fiber products for dairy applications.
Formulators attuned to the digestive-tolerance limitations of some commonly
used vegetable-based or sucrose-derived fibers may want to consider a more
digestive-tolerant form of soluble fiber.
National Starch Food Innovation offers Nutriose®, a
corn-derived resistant dextrin made by Roquette Frères, to many food
and beverage segments in the United States and Mexico. Consumer tests
show that Nutriose, which contains 85 percent total dietary fiber, allows a
very high dose tolerance, as much as 45 grams per day, without risk of
gastrointestinal discomfort. Because consumer research indicates that
people prefer to obtain their nutrients and improve their health through
the foods they regularly eat, formulators who elect to enrich dairy
products with digestive tolerant forms of fiber may be in a better position
to meet the needs of all populations.
Resistant dextrins cater to consumer-desirable product
attributes in addition to health claims. Nutriose, for example, supports
improvements in the sensory attributes of reduced sugar and reduced-fat
dairy products. Some product makers may elect to use a dextrin form of
soluble fiber for health-benefit claims as well as for clean flavor
attributes, smooth texture and desirable mouthfeel.
Nutriose, a clear, low-viscosity, highly soluble and
dispersible fiber, is acid resistant and tolerates heat, pasteurization and
whipping, providing the basis for virtually universal application across a
wide spectrum of dairy foods.
Deborah Dihel is business development manager for
soluble fiber at National Starch Food Innovation, Bridgewater, N.J.