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Taken together, the above studies prompt the question: What is the prebiotic activity of SCF? If it is a true fiber, per our definitions above, then SCF should have a beneficial effect on gut microbiome bacteria. A study performed in 24 adolescents noted an increase in beneficial bacteria (e.g., Bacteroides, Butyricicoccus, Oscillibacter, and Dialister). Furthermore, this was correlated with an increase in calcium absorption upon the consumption of 12 grams of SCF per day for three weeks. An additional study, which administered 8, 14, and 21 grams of SCF over 14 days, found that good bacteria (e.g., Bifidobacteria) increased and peaked at 8 grams per day. This value is nearly identical to inulin, which is considered the “gold standard.” Despite its nearly parallel effects to inulin at 8 grams/day, research has demonstrated that SCF is 3-4 times more tolerable than inulin due to its slower rate of digestibility by the gut bacteria. In fact, 26 grams of SCF barely increased GI symptoms relative to a placebo!
Nutrition DataMacros are provided as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. This information is calculated using MyFitnessPal.com. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.
This topic is very personal to me. I have family members who are severely overweight, some of whom are diabetic, and others who are dealing with a multitude of autoimmune diseases. The only thing that upsets me more than misleading supplement facts (an article for another day) is misleading information that is placed on nutritional labels, which can often leave the consumer unaware of the metabolic response that food actually has on the body.
To figure out the correct amount of fiber for your body, try experimenting. If you’re on the keto diet, start with 15-20 grams of total dietary fiber per day from a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber for several weeks, then consider adding 3-5 grams at a time as needed to see how you feel. Remember that some people actually feel worse when they boost their fiber intake[*][*][*].
Lastly, one of the advertised benefits of IMO is possible prebiotic activity. Prebiotics are critical, as they feed the beneficial bacteria in our digestive system, specifically in the large intestine. These bacteria have several amazing functions, such as lowering body fat, improving insulin sensitivity, and lowering depression. Two “gold standard” prebiotics in the industry are inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS). Inulin and FOS are non-digestible carbohydrates that robustly increase beneficial bacteria. The challenge, however, is that both inulin and FOS, due to their rapid digestibility by intestinal bacteria, result in low gastric tolerance, and, ultimately, gastric distress. Additionally, inulin and FOS, when added to protein bars or other goods, may degrade over time into individual sugar units. Regardless, one study comparing inulin to IMOs, found that the prebiotic activity in inulin is 14 times greater than that of IMOs. This is logical because, as you recall from above, approximately 70% to 90% of IMOs are digested. As such, only a small portion of these prebiotic fibers make it to the large intestine, in which two out of three studies have demonstrated that this small portion may indeed have some prebiotic effects.