Soluble dietary fibre
Dietary fibres are natural carbohydrate polymers with a degree of polymerisation ≥3. They are neither digested nor absorbed in the small intestine.
Possible sources of dietary fibres are mainly natural foods as consumed (fruits, cereals), food raw materials processed by physical, enzymatic or chemical means or synthetic carbohydrate polymers.
• Soluble fibres (Actilight® scFOS, pectins, guar gum, oat bran, several kinds of hemicellulose, inulin) are forming more or less viscous water solutions or gels.
• Insoluble fibres (resistant starch, cellulose, wheat bran, several kinds of hemicellulose) form a suspension in water and can contain an important volume of water. Insoluble fibres have traditionally been used as bulking or texturing agents in food manufacturing.
• Prebiotic fibres are found only among soluble fibres, and not all of them are prebiotic. As for insoluble fibres, they can only have an effect on intestinal transit.
In industrialised countries, changes in food habits (decrease of fruit and vegetables consumption) and the refining of cereals have reduced by half the consumption of dietary fibres during the last century. The average consumption of fibres in Europe is today between 15 and 20g, while the recommended daily intake is of 30g.