Resistant wheat starch aids human metabolism by increasing beneficial microbiota, according to a University of Nebraska study described by Ody Maningat, PhD, vice-president, applications technology and technical services, MGP Ingredients. He also discusses cost savings and health claims.

Baking & Snack: How does dietary fiber foster better digestive health in humans? Can you share recent research that supports this capability or describes mechanism for this activity?

Ody Maningat: In a clinical study conducted at University of Nebraska, Lincoln, the impact of Fibersym RW [resistant wheat starch from MGP Ingredients] on the composition of gut microbiota was evaluated in humans. Fibersym RW was found to induce phylum level changes to the human fecal microbiota, increasing Bacteroidetes and Actinobacteria (e.g Bifidobacteria) while reducing the level of Firmicutes. At the species level, Fibersym RW increased the populations of both Bifidobacterium adolescentis and Parabacteroidetes distasonis. Quantitative enumeration of bifidobacteria confirmed the significant increase in bifidobacterial counts with total cell numbers increasing by more than three-fold. Although an investigation of human metabolism was not included, this research revealed that alterations to the gut microbiota induced through Fibersym RW have been shown to be associated with metabolic benefits in humans and animal trials. For example, the phylum-level changes induced through Fibersym RW have been shown to be associated with lean human subjects, and bifidobacteria were strongly correlated with immunological and metabolic improvements in animal models of type 2 diabetes and hypercholesterolemia. Fibersym RW further reduced the amount of Erysipelotrichaceae, a bacterial family that includes members that have been shown to be positively associated with an increase in liver fat in women.

What do formulators need to know about the way these ingredients perform during preparation and processing? Are there limits — regulatory and/or practical — on usage levels in formulations?

Formulators need to know that Fibersym RW has low water-holding capacity, neutral/clean flavor, fine particle size, low caloric contribution and is process tolerant and highly compatible with flour-based food products. Fibersym RW delivers a rich source of fiber (85% dry basis minimum), which can result in cost savings, and the level used in food formulations depends upon whether the nutrient claim will be a “good source of fiber” claim or an “excellent source of fiber” claim.

Are your ingredients better in some applications than others? What types of baked foods and snacks make the best use of these materials?

Compared with other sources of dietary fiber or resistant starch, Fibersym RW has beneficial applications in flour-containing food products simply because of its compatibility with wheat flour. The starch in wheat flour has the same size, shape, surface properties, flavor, texture properties and sensory attributes as the wheat starch-based Fibersym RW. Thus, bakery, pasta and noodle products are popular items in commercial food applications of Fibersym RW. Examples of commercial food products formulated with Fibersym RW are white and whole-wheat breads, flour tortillas, hamburger buns, hot dog buns, English muffins, pizza crusts, bagels, cookies, muffins, crackers, pretzels, and pasta.

What do you hear from customers and consumers about the finished products made with these ingredients? How well have they been accepted in the marketplace?

The performance of Fibersym RW has been positive, which is proven by the increasing demand for it in the food industry. Customers have indicated that Fibersym RW is easy to formulate and incorporates well in their formulas. Another positive feedback is cost savings due to less usage level to attain a fiber claim because Fibersym RW delivers a more concentrated source of fiber compared to other resistant starches in the market.

What ingredients does MGP Ingredients offer that help create such applications in the baked foods and snacks categories?

Fibersym RW, a RS4-type resistant wheat starch, and its cooked version, FiberRite RW, are the two products produced by MGPI that delivers a rich source of dietary fiber (85% and 75% dry basis minimum, respectively) and contribute to digestive health.