Isomalto-Oligosaccharide: The Natural Prebiotic Plant Fiber, Explained.
Jan 2nd, 2015
A general rule of thumb for reading ingredients on the back of food labels these days is “if you can’t pronounce it, it’s probably not natural”. Not so fast there. Isomalto-Oligosaccharide is the exception to the rule.
WHAT IS ISOMALTO-OLIGOSACCHARIDE (IMO)?
Isomalto-Oligosaccharide is a naturally occurring plant-based dietary fiber. It is prebiotic, soluble, and low-glycemic. The various health benefits of IMO can be as confusing as the name itself but have no fear, I’m here to explain them.
WHAT IS PREBIOTIC?
Prebiotics are a category of functional food, defined as non-digestible food ingredients that ferment in the large intestine and beneficially affect the host by selectively stimulating the growth, proliferation and maintenance of beneficial gut microbiota. Basically, prebiotic fiber is food for our digestive flora, those living bacteria that contribute to our health and wellbeing.
WHAT IS DIETARY FIBER?
Dietary fibers are plant-based. They pass through our digestive system without being broken down. They make gastric motility easier because they absorb water while passing through our stomach. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.
WHAT IS A SOLUBLE FIBER?
Soluble fiber dissolves in water whereas insoluble fiber does not. Soluble fiber forms a gel like consistency in the stomach that slows stomach emptying. The delay of stomach emptying keeps the body feeling fuller longer, which is why fiber is so important to weight loss and weight management goals. Soluble fiber also helps block the absorption of cholesterol which is beneficial and reduces the risk of heart disease.
WHAT ARE OTHER HEALTH BENEFITS OF ISOMALTO-OLIGOSACCHARIDES OTHER THAN BEING A PREBIOTIC AND A DIETARY FIBER?
Fermentation of IMO by colonic bacteria results in production of Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) that metabolize in liver and confer many physiological benefits to the host including: protection from colonic cancer, stabilize blood glucose levels, decrease cholesterol synthesis, lowering the digestive tracts pH which allows for an increase absorption of dietary minerals and help stimulate the immune function.
DOES ISOMALTO-OLIGOSACCHARIDE CAUSE GASTRIC UPSET?
The FDA-GRAS document describes IMO as being safe up to 15g/serving and up to 30gm/day without digestive discomfort.
So, continue to add fiber to your daily diet routine!
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2. Tungland, B.C.; Meyer, D. 2002. Nondigestible oligo-and polysaccharides (dietary fiber): Their physiology and role in human health and food. Compr Rev Food Sci Food Safety 3:73-92.
3. Dietary Reference Intakes Proposed Definition of Dietary Fiber. A report of the panel of the Definitionn of Dietary Fiber and the Standing Committee of the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes. Food and Nutrition Board. Institute of Medicinae. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. 2001.
4. Chow J. Probiotics and Prebiotics. A brief overview. J. Ren. Nutrition. 2002; 12(2): 76-86.