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  Life   Health  23 Oct 2018  Adding refined fibre to processed food could have negative health effects

Adding refined fibre to processed food could have negative health effects

Published : Oct 23, 2018, 2:10 pm IST
Updated : Oct 23, 2018, 2:10 pm IST

New research highlights that fortifying processed foods with fibre may not be safe for some.

Representational Image. (Photo: Pixabay)
 Representational Image. (Photo: Pixabay)

Washington: While your mother might be after your life for adding more and more fibre-rich food to your diet, you need to choose your fibres carefully.

According to a recent study, highly refined fiber to processed foods could have negative effects on human health, such as promoting liver cancer, according to a new study by researchers at Georgia State University and the University of Toledo.

Accumulating evidence demonstrates the consumption of whole foods naturally rich in fiber confers an array of health benefits. This, combined with an appreciation by many health-conscious consumers that their diets are lacking in such fibres, has led to the food industry enriching foods with highly refined soluble fibres, such as inulin.

Recently, changes in U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules allow foods containing supplemented fibres to be marketed as health-promoting. The researchers through this study have raised serious concerns about the safety of adding refined fibre to processed foods.

"Such a finding was really surprising," said Dr. Matam Vijay-Kumar, senior author of the study, "but at the same time we recognized their potential importance and accepted the challenge of exploring how processed dietary soluble fibre was inducing liver cancer."

"These findings indicate that enriching foods with purified fibres may not recapitulate the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables naturally rich in soluble fibre," said Dr. Andrew Gewirtz, one of the study's authors.

"Moreover, it may result in serious, life-threatening liver cancer in some individuals. Hence, we think the recent FDA rule change that has effectively encouraged marketing of fibre-fortified food as health-promoting is ill-conceived and should be reconsidered." Gewirtz added. These findings were published in the journal Cell.

"The inulin used in this study is coming from chicory root, not a food we would normally eat. In addition, during the extraction and processing of the fibre, it goes through a chemical process," said Vishal Singh, one of the lead researchers in the study.

These findings highlight the need for more studies looking at the effects of purified diet consumption in humans, and especially on liver health.

"We importantly demonstrated that soluble fibre, while it generally beneficially impacts health, can also become detrimental, leading to diseases as severe as liver cancer," said Dr. Benoit Chassaing, assistant professor in the Neuroscience Institute at Georgia State.

"However, we do not want to promote that fibre is bad. Rather, our research highlights that fortifying processed foods with fiber may not be safe to certain individuals with gut bacterial dysbiosis, in whom consumption of purified fiber may lead to liver cancer." Chassaing added.

Tags: refined fibre, processed food, health, liver cancer