[ASC-media] CSIRO: Challenging the definition of "dietary fibre"

Rebecca.Eveleigh at csiro.au Rebecca.Eveleigh at csiro.au
Tue Jul 31 02:46:23 CEST 2007

31 July 2007
Ref 07/135

Challenging the definition of "dietary fibre"

A proposal to redefine the internationally accepted definition of what
constitutes "dietary fibre" will be questioned today in an address by
senior CSIRO nutritionist Dr David Topping to the US Institute of Food
Technologists' Annual Meeting in Chicago.
Dr Topping will argue that the definition of dietary fibre should be
broadened to include resistant starch - a form of starch that behaves in
a very similar way to many traditional fibre components but is found in
only small amounts in highly processed grains.
"Resistant starch shows all the characteristics of dietary fibre," Dr
Topping says. "It is not digested in the stomach, but passes on to the
colon where it is fermented, promoting healthy digestive bacteria.
Research at CSIRO and elsewhere has shown that resistant starch has
significant benefits for bowel health.
"A broader definition than that proposed for dietary fibre is needed
because of a greater understanding about the wide range of food
components that act as fibre in the body, with their respective benefits
for heart and digestive health.
"It will mean consumers will be able to eat a wider range of foods to
meet their daily fibre needs as well as gain the additional health
benefits offered by food components such as resistant starch."
For the last six years nutritionists around the world have been working
on a new definition of "dietary fibre" for the CODEX Alimentarius
Commission - an international organisation working under the auspices of
the World Health Organisation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation,
which prepare model food regulations, both for individual countries to
follow and to regulate trade.
The proposed new definition includes only "intrinsic plant cell wall
polysaccharides", or material from cell walls, particularly from fruit
and vegetables, as dietary fibre.
"The health benefits of fruit and vegetables are well known, but there
is also now good evidence to support the physiological effect and
benefits of a number of other 'fibre-like' food components such as
resistant starch," Dr Topping says.
"Because of the wealth of evidence showing the benefits of these other
fibre-like components, CSIRO has set up a breeding program to develop
new grain varieties with enhanced levels of soluble fibre, insoluble
fibre and resistant starch.
"So far we have a new variety of barley - BARLEYmax(tm), which is a very
high source of dietary fibre, has significant levels of resistant starch
and also produces foods with a low Glycaemic Index.
"Clinical trials have shown very favourable effects on important
measures of bowel health."
Dr Topping was invited to present the case for the wider definition of
dietary fibre at the United States Institute of Food Technologists
Annual Meeting to support the many international nutritionists who
believe a broader definition of dietary fibre is needed.

Further Information:	
Dr David Topping, CSIRO Human Nutrition	+61 8 8303 8930, 0418 847 009;
David.Topping at csiro.au

Media Assistance:	
Sylvia Bell, CSIRO Food Futures Flagship	+61 2 9490 8006, 0437
896 522; Sylvia.Bell at csiro.au

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Beck Eveleigh
Media Assistant
CSIRO Media Liaison
6276 6451
0409 395 010

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