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Isomalto-Oligosaccharide: The Natural Prebiotic Plant Fiber, Explained.

Shawn Sherwood

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Jan 2nd, 2015

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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!

 

References:

 1.  PDRNS. 2001. Prebiotics. in: PDR for Nutritional Supplements (1st Ed.). Physicians’ Desk Reference (PDR); Demoines, Iowa/Medical Economics Data Production Company; Montvale, New Jersey, pp. 372-375.

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.

13 Responses to Isomalto-Oligosaccharide: The Natural Prebiotic Plant Fiber, Explained.

  1. Anna 03/02/2015 at 11:51 pm

    where can I buy isomalto-oligosaccharide?

    • Customer Care 09/02/2015 at 8:36 am

      Hi Anna, as far as we know it is unavailable in pill form, but if you are looking for natural sources of prebiotics we would suggest looking at Jerusalem artichokes, bananas, oatmeal and legumes, which are also great sources of fiber. I hope this information was helpful. ~Shasta

  2. Lisa gosweiler 20/03/2015 at 7:40 pm

    This ingredient is listed in quest bars but no exact amount is given in grams or otherwise. It does say 17 g of fiber. I have been eating them daily as a source of fiber and have noticed extreme intestinal discomfort and bloating. I initially did not think it to be caused by the quest bars, but after eliminating all other possible sources it is all I am left with. Have you heard of this side effect before? Any help with this matter would be greatly appreciated.
    Lisa Gosweiler

    • Customer Care 21/03/2015 at 3:49 pm

      Hi Lisa, from our understanding exceeding the daily recommended amount of Isomalto-Oligosacchride of 30gm/day can cause some intestinal discomfort. Since the Quest bars are not our product, your best route would be to contact Quest directly at http://www.questnutrition.com/contact-us/. Have a great weekend. ~Thomas

  3. Mark 23/05/2016 at 7:34 am

    @Anna

    BioNeutra sells IMO under the VitaFiber name.

  4. Rique Sollisch 21/07/2016 at 6:33 am

    I am reading food product ingredient labels to make sure there is no corn.When a label indicates “plant-based” I am suspect. Vegetable blend is another term I am finding, in oil, for example. May I assume its unsafe for me and my highly reactive adverse response to corn and its uses in practically all food?

  5. Jack Oswald 05/03/2018 at 7:06 pm

    Shawn – The info on IMO is incorrect. it is not actually a fiber but a sugar. Refer to this peer-reviewed paper. The manufacturers of IMO have misled you.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1750-3841.13623/abstract

    • Customer Support 05/03/2018 at 11:41 pm

      Hello Jack! Thanks for reaching out to us. Could you please email us at Albertsons.Social.Media@safeway.com with the store location that you frequent, and additional details about your concerns? Please reference your post so we know who you are. Thank you! -Cynthia

  6. jackie 18/04/2018 at 10:53 am

    Jack, I read the article on the link you provided but ended being more confused than infomed. Is it saying that what we understand of this product is misleading and that the health benefits are wrong? How much carb is there and is there no fibre at all in this product?

  7. Todd H. 22/08/2018 at 10:56 pm

    I bought some protein bars that contain IMO fiber. I made the mistake of drinking milk after eating one and let’s just say I had extreme flatulence for 3-4 hours after. My advice is to avoid IMO fiber and all other foods with man made ingredients.

  8. Sue Pete 29/08/2018 at 6:06 pm

    Isomalto is given to old Koren men to relieve bowel problems. It is available at large Korean stores. Many use Quest bars for the same reason. It is like a miracle! After two days of use you will see results. Use once daily in coffee or oatmeal (slightly sweet). One squeeze from bottle. Am a Low Carber and does not cause any problems once daily.

  9. Healthful Macros 25/10/2018 at 4:50 pm

    @Jack Oswald

    I jumped into reading the article before glancing at the authors and seeing you were one of them. I have to say, I was hesitant to read on after seeing the authors’ (N=2) study on their own BG levels (…really?), and I was even more skeptical after seeing that this study came from ISOThrive LLC, which the authors are partners in.

    I’d love to see the study in Fig. 4 repeated to include ISOThrive (not to mention a statistically significant N and appropriate controls). It is very strange that you wouldn’t test your own product, especially given you used yourselves as subjects (i.e. it would have costed almost nothing and extended your ‘study’ by one day at most). I’m thinking you did, and that you just aren’t showing the results.

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