What is Soluble Corn Fiber?
Fiber has gained a lot of attention in the literature and public eye as of late. In general fiber has been shown to increase satiety, promote weight loss as well as improve overall gut health. There are two main divisions of fiber; soluble and insoluble. As suggested by its name soluble fiber is dissolves in water, examples of soluble fiber include oats, beans and apples. Insoluble fibers on the other hand do not dissolve in water, examples include whole wheat bread, potatoes, and nuts. While their specific functions differ slightly, both fibers provide nutrients for the healthy gut bacteria. Supporting your gut bacteria has also been shown to induce a wide variety of health benefits including aiding in weight loss, reducing inflammation and anxiety (1).
One type of fiber that has gained special attention in the health community as of late is soluble corn fiber (SCF). While not naturally present in foods SCF is in fact healthy and may increase calcium absorption further supporting bone mineralization as well as improve gut health. Soluble corn fiber is made through taking digestible glucose constituents and turning them into non-digestible constituents through a process known as enzymatic hydrolysis (2). SCF is typically added to foods to increase fiber intake and replace other glucose heavy counterparts. Most notably SCF is used in some of your favorite protein bars!
What does the research say?
Though SCF was initially praised for its ability to increase the fiber content of food replacing sugar thus lowering the insulin response of baked goods researchers also began to notice it had other impressive health benefits. Jakeman et al., (2016) examined the effects of SCF on calcium retention in post-menopausal women in a randomized double blinded trial. 14 healthy post-menopausal women were given 0,10 and 20g of SCF for 50 days. These researchers discovered a dose dependent response where calcium retention was improved by 4.8% and 7% respectively. In conclusion these researchers suggest that daily consumption of SCF improves calcium retention (3). In regard to a mechanism-researchers suggest that SCF induces a shift in the gut microbiome increasing the amount of fiber fermenting organisms which may increase calcium absorption (4). These applications of SCF may be beneficial for individuals at a greater risk for bone fractures such as adolescents, athletes and post-menopausal women.
What about SCF effects on overall gut health?
Hooda et al., (2012) examined the effects of SCF on the composition of the human gut microbiota! 20 healthy men participated in this randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Over three 21-day periods participants received either a control bar, polydextrose bar, or SCF bar. At the end of the experimental periods fecal samples were collected and the DNA was extracted and analyzed. The results showed the greatest benefit following the consumption of SCF! Consuming SCF resulted in a greater increase in Clostridiaceae, Veillonellaceae, Faecalibacterium and Lactobacillus (healthy gut bacteria). Faecalibacterium, in particular has been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory properties! Therefore, these researchers concluded that SCF resulted in a beneficial shift in the gut microbiome and that SCF could function as a pre-biotic (5).
In conclusion, soluble corn fiber is a healthy substitute to traditional glucose heavy ingredients typically found in baked goods. SCF has also been shown to have impressive health benefits besides reducing the overall insulin impact of foods. These health benefits include increased calcium retention and a beneficial shift in your gut microbiota! So next time you see soluble corn fiber on the label smile knowing that you’re doing your body and your gut a favor!
- Zhang, Y. J., Li, S., Gan, R. Y., Zhou, T., Xu, D. P., & Li, H. B. (2015). Impacts of gut bacteria on human health and diseases. International journal of molecular sciences, 16(4), 7493-7519.
- Jakeman, S. A., Henry, C. N., Martin, B. R., McCabe, G. P., McCabe, L. D., Jackson, G. S., ... & Weaver, C. M. (2016). Soluble corn fiber increases bone calcium retention in postmenopausal women in a dose-dependent manner: a randomized crossover trial. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 104(3), 837-843.
- Weaver, C. M., Martin, B. R., Story, J. A., Hutchinson, I., & Sanders, L. (2010). Novel fibers increase bone calcium content and strength beyond efficiency of large intestine fermentation. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 58(16), 8952-8957.
- Hooda, S., Boler, B. M. V., Serao, M. C. R., Brulc, J. M., Staeger, M. A., Boileau, T. W., ... & Swanson, K. S. (2012). 454 Pyrosequencing Reveals a Shift in Fecal Microbiota of Healthy Adult Men Consuming Polydextrose or Soluble Corn Fiber–3. The Journal of nutrition, 142(7), 1259-1265.