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As observed by the graphs above, in contrast to the IMOs in which blood glucose rapidly increased to 125 mg/dL, SCF did not elicit any blood glucose response. In addition, while insulin was elevated during the IMO condition, it actually tended to go down in the SCF condition! Despite the results from the blood glucose and insulin responses, the breath hydrogen assay will distinguish which is a “true fiber.” Our data below clearly indicates that SCF indeed passes into the large intestine, as indicated by the large breath hydrogen response. In stark contrast, IMOs do not.
The increased awareness regarding the importance of fiber, in addition to its distinct metabolic effects, has resulted in a surge of companies switching to an alternative fiber known as soluble corn fiber (SCF). Interestingly, SCF has been available on the US market since 2007 and is used in foods and beverages across the Americas, Europe, and Southeast Asia. SCF is produced through an extensive process: corn syrup is exposed to a suite of enzymes for at least 48 hours, some of which are found in the brush border of your small intestine, as well as the pancreas. Notably, a large majority of the corn syrup contains easily digestible carbohydrates; however, a small portion is, in fact, not digestible. At the end of this enzymatic exposure, a stream of digestion-resistant carbohydrates remains and is subsequently filtered several times. The resulting product is a “true fiber” that contains a mixture of α-1,6, α-1,4, α-1,2, and α-1,3 glucosidic linkages, which, as mentioned above, contribute to its low digestibility.
One of the first studies to examine IMO syrups had six subjects consume 25 grams of IMO syrup. These researchers found that glucose levels increased from 109 mg/dL pre-ingestion to a peak of 136 mg/dL 30 min post-ingestion. Additionally, insulin rose to nearly parallel levels with that of glucose from 4.8 μU/mL pre-ingestion to nearly 32 μU/mL at 30 min post-ingestion. These values clearly indicate that some digestion is occurring. Furthermore, these researchers found that IMO was about 83% as digestible as maltose under resting conditions and about 69% as digestible after the exercise period. Taken together, this suggests that a large majority of the carbohydrate in the IMO syrup was, in fact, digested, absorbed, and metabolized.
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[*][*][*].