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December 3, 2018 • Healthy Eating & Nutrition

Red Flag Raised for Common Food Additive

Over the past decade, fiber has garnered a well-deserved sparkling track record for guarding health.
To drive sales, the food industry has pounced on the opportunity to exploit fiber’s glowing reputation by adding processed, chemically-extracted fiber, commonly inulin, to the full gamut of processed foods—including cereals, protein bars, yogurt, bread, ice cream, amongst many others.
Despite this highly common, FDA-approved practice, there is no meaningful scientific evidence that processed, chemically-extracted fiber like inulin offers health benefits like that of real, food-based fiber naturally found in fruits, veggies, beans, and whole grains. Even more alarming, a recent laboratory study uncovered startling concerns about this dubious practice.
For this study, researchers were evaluating the effects of adding the processed fiber, inulin, to the diets of rats in hopes that it offered protection from weight gain and obesity. While the researchers did note less weight gain in the mice fed the inulin-containing diet, to their surprise, some of the mice developed liver abnormalities including many that developed liver cancer. Recognizing the importance of further exploration given inulin’s common use by the food industry, the researchers dug deeper. It seems that the mice that developed the liver cancer all had pre-existing dysbiosis, an unhealthy balance of bacteria in the gut. Alarmingly, dysbiosis is common in America. (Because of poor dietary habits, overuse of antibiotics, etc.)
Although this study was performed in mice, it raises a red flag of caution for human health. The lead researcher commented that the FDA’s recent rule change that allows the food industry to market fiber-fortified, processed foods as health-promoting, is “ill-conceived and should be reconsidered.” I agree!
The bottom line: stick to real, food-based fiber direct from Mother Nature’s amazing arsenal of fruits, veggies, beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds and steer clear of factory-made fiber now ubiquitous in processed foods.

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