There are two general categories of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. Fibrous foods typically contain both soluble and insoluble fibers. As a society, we understand the importance of fiber, including the benefits related to lowering body fat, decreasing the prevalence of diabetes, improving insulin sensitivity, decreasing the risk of heart disease and increasing satiety, as well as the beneficial bacteria in our digestive system. Unfortunately, less than 5% of Americans actually meet the 30 gram per day recommended intake. To help increase fiber consumption, an increasing number of companies have developed a host of delicious, low-carb, high-fiber treats. Despite this, it is important to understand how our bodies process two of the most common “fibers” on the market that are used in these treats: isomaltooligosaccharides (IMOs) and soluble corn fiber (SCF).
You may need to skip the cake, or at least limit your intake of sweets and carb-heavy vegetables. Know your body and do what makes you feel best. If you don’t think you will be able to get back on the Keto Diet comfortably after having a “cheat day” or “cheat vacation,” then perhaps it might be best to continue eating a strictly Keto-friendly diet.
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.