UK – Adding fibre to everyday foods – including baked foods, dairy products, soups, smoothies and dressings- could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, a new study has found.
The study by ingredient supplier Tate & Lyle, published in Cambridge University Press’ British Journal of Nutrition found reformulating everyday foods with added fibre would allow 50% more UK adults to reach their recommended daily consumption of fibre.
Many UK adults do not get the recommended level of fibre in their diets. Only 9% of people currently reach the recommended 30g of fibre per day.
Most only manage to consume 19g of fibre per day, exposing them to health risks associated with lower dietary fibre intake including higher risk of colorectal and breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
Low fibre intake can also disrupt the gut microbiome, according to the study.
The study suggests that fibre fortification could bridge this deficit and also ‘more than double’ the number of children in the UK eating the recommended daily intake of fibre.
It could also see 6% of the UK population benefit from weight loss through higher fibre consumption.
“Most people understand that eating fibre helps keep bowel function regular, but fewer understand that getting the right amount of fibre in your diet is highly beneficial for wider health and wellbeing, including cardiovascular, immunity, skin, brain and gut health,” emphasised study co-author Dr Kavita Karnik.
According to Dr Karnik, one of the problems consumers face is the difficulty of eating enough fibre without also increasing calories consumed.
“For most people it is difficult to get enough fibre into their diet without exceeding their recommended calorie intake,” Dr. Karnik who is the Global Head, Nutrition & Regulatory Affairs at Tate & Lyle added.
“This is where fibre fortification could play a highly beneficial role to public health – it would allow consumers to continue eating the products they prefer while potentially, lowering rates of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and help maintain a healthy weight across the population.”
Sara Stanner, Science Director at the British Nutrition Foundation, agrees that fortification offers an important lever to boost population health in the UK.
“We have seen how reformulation has helped to reduce salt consumption and it’s important that the food industry continues to innovate to produce healthier products, in some cases reducing nutrients such as salt or sugar or by adding beneficial components such as fibre.”
Tate & Lyle has also signed up to the UK Food and Drink Federation’s Action on Fibre initiative, which wants to help consumers bridge the gap between the fibre they eat and the recommended dietary intake.
This, the project claims, would help improve gut health and cut the risks of NCDs like diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer.
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