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Remember the boom in oat bran and how everyone was really into antioxidants a few years ago? Have you ever wondered why so many foods seem to be flavored with yuzu right now? What about how every food product now wants to indicate how much protein it contains? You notice food trends.
Predicting the next big food trend – and tracking it to create competitive advantage before consumer behavior changes – is an abiding obsession of the food industry. For many brands, hitting the right one at the right time is what defines success. Sustainable sourcing, plant-based eating and sugar reduction are all examples of current macro trends in the food industry.
Related: This Brand Provides Healthy Plant-Based Nutrition
Coming out of the global pandemic, people are more interested than ever in managing and protecting their own health, and one of the main ways we are doing this is by focusing on the macronutrients in our foods. This represents a growing opportunity for food brands.
Fiber is an overlooked macronutrient
The food industry has long focused on reducing the sugar, carbohydrate and fat content of packaged foods. More recently, she has focused on increasing protein content. However, protein deficiencies are so rare in North America and Europe that they don’t even have a precise English name – “kwashiorkor” is actually a Ghanaian word for protein-related malnutrition.
In contrast, the macronutrient most often overlooked on our supermarket shelves is the one that consumers and food formulators should be paying the most attention to. I’m talking, of course, about fiber.
Fiber offers the greatest opportunity to become the food macro trend of the future.
As with protein deficiency, we don’t have a word for fiber deficiency, but we should. Unlike protein deficiency, almost all Americans today suffer from fiber deficiency – studies show that 95% of Americans consume less than the daily recommended amount, eating only half the amount of fiber on average. they should. The Mayo Clinic recommends 21 to 25 grams of fiber per day for women and 30 to 38 grams per day for men.
Unfortunately, fiber deficiency contributes to an epidemic of non-communicable diseases and the accompanying rising health care costs. The US Center for Disease Control reports that in the United States, cardiovascular disease costs $216 billion a year and results in $147 billion in lost productivity. It’s not the worst though. One in four dollars spent on health care goes to treating diabetes, which tops the NCD spending chart with an annual expenditure of $237 billion in direct medical costs alone.
To make up the difference, it is not enough to swallow an extra scoop of bran flakes. Fiber is naturally found in plant-based foods, but you need to get plenty of it to reach the recommended 30 grams daily. A sample menu might include an oat bran muffin (5 grams), a cup of chopped boiled broccoli (an additional 5 grams), a medium pear and a medium apple (4.5 and 5.5 grams, respectively), one raw carrot (1 gram), two slices of whole wheat bread (4 grams), 1 cup chopped raw cauliflower (2 grams), and one cup strawberries for dessert (3 grams).
Fiber appeals to health-conscious consumers
If the food industry invests in fiber, that proverbial ounce (or rather 30 grams) of prevention could lead to better overall health outcomes. Research clearly shows that eating more fiber helps ensure better health.
According to Harvard University, eating sufficient amounts of fiber may reduce the risk of developing “heart disease, diabetes, diverticular disease, and constipation”, and it also appears that fiber may act as an anti-inflammatory in people. patients with these diseases. This research is supported by many studies around the world.
Researchers also note that fiber is a natural and effective way to eliminate toxins from the body. Additionally, by regulating the body’s glycemic response, it provides other beneficial effects, such as lowering blood sugar.
Related: Study: Low-Fiber Diets Could Harm Gut Bacteria Diversity
One of the most promising ways the benefits of fiber are beginning to be communicated is through their impact on gut health. We need fiber to help our digestive system work properly. As Laura Entis wrote in Entrepreneur“The low-fiber, highly processed diets so common in our industrial society can deplete the diversity of our microbiomes.”
That’s because the fiber we eat creates a happy habitat that nourishes our gut microbiota, the bacteria that live in our intestines and contribute to our overall health. In fact, researchers also continue to find stronger links between gut health and mental health, especially with foods considered prebiotic. Prebiotic foods contain fiber that creates the ideal conditions for the intestinal flora, preparing our digestive system for optimal performance.
A study conducted by Dr. Ali Boolani, a researcher in the Department of Physical Therapy and Department of Biology at Clarkson University, found that gut flora can actually affect a person’s mood. Additionally, Boolani and colleagues reported that an imbalance in gut flora contributes to persistent fatigue, which affects approximately 45% of the US population. “What you eat determines the bacteria and microbiome in your gut,” Boolani told Sci News.
Many companies are leading the charge on this front. One is Gutsii, which makes prebiotic chocolate from inulin, a fiber found in many fruits and vegetables. Other companies have joined various initiatives to include more fibre, including the UK Food and Drink Federation’s Action on Fiber initiative.
For me, I have spent my career as a carbohydrate scientist developing new ways to access and utilize plant fiber from otherwise underutilized sources and have made this the basis of my work at The Supplant Company. It’s clear to me that fiber has been, so far, the least popular macronutrient. And yet, it is essential to human health, the most abundant biological resource on the planet and the most abundant product of our food system.
As more and more people realize the benefits of getting enough fiber in their diets and more and more companies start to find ways to meet consumer demand for fiber in their diet, we will see that fiber provides fertile ground for the next wave of foods. entrepreneurs, especially those seeking to promote human health.
Related: 5 Nutrients You Need for Optimal Growth and Performance