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Adding refined fiber to processed food can have negative health effects, finds study

ANI | Updated: Oct 22, 2018 17:27 IST

Washington DC, [USA] Oct 22 (ANI): While your mother might be after your life for adding more and more fiber-rich food to your diet, you need to choose your fibers 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 fibers, has led to the food industry enriching foods with highly refined soluble fibers, such as inulin.
Recently, changes in U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules allow foods containing supplemented fibers to be marketed as health-promoting. The researchers through this study have raised serious concerns about the safety of adding refined fiber 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 fiber was inducing liver cancer."
"These findings indicate that enriching foods with purified fibers may not recapitulate the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables naturally rich in soluble fiber," 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 fiber-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 fiber, 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 fiber, 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 fiber 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. (ANI)

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