The Stink Behind “Added Fiber” Products

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Let me learn ya two life lessons right quick:

  1. If it’s too good to be true, it mostly likely ain’t true.  DUH.
  2. Cutting corners rarely ends in a great result.  You’re just being a lazy jerk.

Case in point:  Mystical magical products with “added fiber” that are still somehow pure, clean, smooth, and tasty.  You people wanna be healthy and eat fiber but you don’t want to eat the foods that naturally contain it.  CUTTING CORNERS.

lazycat

Examples of “Added Fiber” products:

  • Yogurt with added fiber
  • Pulp-free Orange Juice with added fiber (So, you remove fibrous pulp and then ADD back in fiber???)
  • Fiber bars/snack bars
  • Pop Tarts with fiber
  • Cereals with added fiber
  • Sugar/Sweeteners with added fiber (Yes, this stupid crap actually exists… Pardon my Irish)

splendafiber

For those of you who have eaten these types of products, let me ask you a question: Did you experience horrible, debilitating gas after eating them?

Courtesy of www.pleasegodno.com
Courtesy of www.pleasegodno.com

Well, if the room-clearing gas isn’t enough to get you to stop eating these products, the horrible secret behind them that I’m about to reveal hopefully will.

The Stinky Fiber Secret

The FDA’s definition of what can be called fiber is lengthy and confusing, so I’ll sum it up in two sentences:

  1. An insoluble or soluble non-digestible carbohydrate from plants
  2. A synthetic non-digestible carbohydrate material

It’s the #2 (haha, #2) definition that a lot of companies exploit like an elephant at a circus.

Many companies, in an effort to hop on the fiber-craze, save money, and keep your products smooth and silky, decided to do something suuuuper sneaky.  They chemically altered starches (a sugar in the carbohydrate family) so that they aren’t digestible by the human body; therefore the new indigestible carbohydrate (starch) they’ve created can be defined as “fiber” according to the FDA.  CAN YOU GRASP HOW SNEAKY THAT IS???

Yogurtlaughing
The yogurt companies are LAUGHING AT YOU.

It’s not really “for realz” fiber, you guys.  It’s literally a sugar you can’t digest because some jerk CREATED it to be that way.  In summary:  When you’re consuming products with “added fiber” in them, you might be eating indigestible sugars as opposed to actual fiber.

Now, here’s something I want to be clear about when throwing around sugar terminology:

“For realzie” fiber could technically be classified as a sugar/carbohydrate as well because it is a polysaccharide, just like starch is also a polysaccharide.  However, just because they’re both technically sugars doesn’t mean they’re the same.  Case in point:  Lucille Ball and I are completely different; yet we’re both white, redheaded, hilarious, talented, AWESOME, women. You see what I mean?

The health benefits associated with these two sugars couldn’t be more different!

There is study upon study upon study that presents all the possible ways fiber can be beneficial to your health.  A few examples of the benefits can be found here.

However, there’s also tons of evidence that consuming indigestible sugars causes gas, bloating, and diarrhea, with little to no evidence suggesting that there are any health benefits.

This is because the indigestible sugars ferment in your intestine (since your body can’t digest them), draw in water to get rid of them (a.k.a diarrhea), and create a feast for the bacteria in your gut (the waste bacteria releases after their feast results in you being able to fly to the moon on your own gas supply).

Picture it… Millions of whittle bacteria farting their whittle flagella off in unison.

unicorn fart

Annnnndddd… These modified starches aren’t limited to just “added fiber” products because they can also be used as thickeners.  So if you’re eating salad dressing, ice cream, or even pudding and experience odd gassy episodes, this may be the reason why.

Why do companies do this?

  1. They can claim their product is “a good source of fiber” without having any real fiber in them, dodging repercussions from the FDA.
  2. Modified sugars are cheap.
  3. They can keep their products white, clean, and smooth, which they wouldn’t be able to accomplish with regular fiber.
  4. They get to benefit from the fiber craze, enticing you to buy their stuff without actually having real fiber in their products.

Like you don’t have enough caca to wade through at the supermarket, amirite?

How to Identify B.S. Fiber Products

There are a few simple ways to figure out if the product you’re eating has regular fiber or chemically altered starches/isolated fibers.

1.  Is the product as smooth as silk?

If a product claims to have fiber added to it, and it’s smooth and creamy, it’s most likely the BUNK.

If I added any type of fiber, soluble or insoluble, to yogurt, cheese, bars or whatever, the product would either be grainy, gritty, or gelatinous.  It looks kinda like this if it sits long enough:

goodnessgf.blogspot.com
goodnessgf.blogspot.com
2.  Is there a trademark symbol after the ingredient?

A couple examples of trademarked food ingredients:

  • Activia Fiber®
  • NUTRAFLORA®
  • Bifidus Regularis®

Here’s the thing… You can’t trademark or patent something that occurs naturally in nature (usually).  I can’t grab a piece of lettuce, rename it, and get a trademark for it just because I call it “Unicorn Greens” and try to sell it.  Although, I bet people would buy it!

Unicorncat

These companies can trademark their ingredients because they’ve altered them in a way that distinguishes them from similar products sold by competing companies and/or the naturally occurring products, e.g. fiber.

Therefore, they have been modified people.  So watch out for those wacky trademark symbols!

3.  Read the Labels Carefully

If there is a product claiming to be high in fiber, you should be able to find ingredients on the label such as (just a few examples):

  • Chicory root
  • Oats
  • Bran
  • Large amounts of fruit
  • Flaxseed, or any seeds for that matter
  • Nuts
  • Psyllium (I have some issues with this stuff, but that’s another article!)
  • Acacia

Side note:  Chicory root is the HIGHEST in prebiotic fiber (food for good bacteria).  If you’re eating bars or products with a lot of Chicory root in them, while it is good for you, you might ship yourself to Pluto with the amount of gas it will cause.

Here’s an example of a fiber bar with real fiber in it:

Courtesy of www.renewlife.com
Courtesy of www.renewlife.com

Now keep in mind, if you go from 0 to 60 on the fiber meter, you will experience gas because your body is adjusting to a big change. Fiber should be increased gently and slowly in your diet to avoid tootie repercussions.

**The fiber bar shown above has A LOT of fiber in it.  It should only be eaten by trained fiber-professionals.**

Ingredients you should shy away from:

  • Trademarked ingredients
  • Modified Food Starches (sometimes used as a thickener, but if it’s listed on a product with added fiber, chances are that this is their “fiber source”).
  • Polydextrose
  • Methylcellulose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Sugar Cane Fiber
  • Inulin (Isolated fiber from Chicory Root… Oh, the TOOTIE FRUITIES this must cause!)

Finally, pay attention to how the ingredients are listed.  Ingredients must be listed in order of weight, meaning that the first ingredient takes up the most weight and makes up the majority of the product.

So, when ingredients like “Fructose”, “Sugar” and “Modified Food Starch” are listed way higher than “Bran” and “Oats”, it’s not a good sign.

Nutrition label example with a bunch of red flags:

Courtesy of activia.us.com
Courtesy of activia.us.com

So What Have We Learned?

Shock of shocks, food companies utilize whatever tactics they can to trick you into buying their products.  The thing that really grinds my gears is they’re tricking people who genuinely care about their health into buying products that have little to no effect on their health. ARGHhhhh… That makes me feel like this:

We’ve also learned that cutting corners to “have your cake and eat it too” will sometimes result in eating a bunch of worthless junk that causes gas.  But, you can’t totally blame the companies because they’re giving you exactly what you want, you lazy bums!  Smooth, creamy yogurts, cheeses, and drinks with “fiber” that aren’t grainy or bulky and look pretty.

The problem?  They’re basically nutritionally worthless, will make you unpopular at parties, and cause you pain.

Again…EAT UGLY FOOD PEOPLE.  It’s not even really ugly, it’s just not sterilized and “perfect”.

So, stop being a bum and realize that in order to meet your fiber intake for the day, you’re going to have to eat some real frickin’ fiber.  And if you aren’t sure what foods have fiber in them, here’s a handy guide: High Fiber Foods List.

References

http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/food/article/faux-fiber-versus-real-thing

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/why-dannon-let-jamie-lee-curtis-tell-lies-about-activia/

http://blogs.webmd.com/healthy-recipe-doctor/2010/03/the-dirty-little-secret-of-sugar-free-products.html

http://www.fdalawblog.net/fda_law_blog_hyman_phelps/2014/05/fdas-proposal-on-nutrition-labeling-and-fiber.html