In Canada, Taiyo has received approval for claims relating to the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and childhood constipation. It helps bolster the ingredient’s unique positioning in the market, said Scott Smith, vice president of Taiyo International.
“Sunfiber is the only fiber that has these benefits for IBS without the negatives that can go with fiber such as gas or bloating,” Smith told NutraIngredients-USA.
Regularity as the goal
Smith noted that IBS can manifest with a variety of symptoms, such as abdominal pain and severe irregularity, in which the patient’s gut swings from constipation to diarrhea in an unpredictable manner. Many fibers can lay claim to helping with constipation, Smith said, but Sunfiber is unique in the marketplace in having evidence backing its effect at dampening down diarrhea as well. Most fibers promote loose stools, especially at high doses and in consumers not accustomed to high fiber intake, Smith said.
“The structure function claims we have with Sunfiber are all related to its ability to promote true regularity. Almost all dietary fibers help with constipation, but don’t help with diarrhea and in fact can promote it,” Smith said.
The health claim system in Canada requires the submission of a dossier of efficacy and saftey evidence. In this case Taiyo submitted the data in conjunction with its customer Flora Health, a manufacturer of dietary supplements and herbal products.
“The claims are all for Sunfiber (Flora is marketing a single-ingredient sku). The claims at the moment pertain to the Flora Health product. Our intention is after a period of time to resubmit for claims relating to Sunfiber in general,” Smith said.
According to Smith the claims approved in Canada were as follows. Only Sunfiber has been granted the IBS claims, and up to now, only prunes could claim in Canada to have a health benefit for childhood constipation.
- Helps to improve bowel regularity in people with IBS.
- Helps to relieve constipation and gastrointestinal discomfort in people with IBS.
- Helps to reduce the frequency of bowel irregularity and abdominal discomfort in people with IBS, including flatulence, bloating, dyspepsia and altered bowel habits.
- Helps to relieve bowel irregularity, bloating and other gastrointestinal symptoms in people with IBS.
- Helps to improve intestinal regularity in children.
- Provides a gentle relief of constipation in children.
- Helps to improve bowel regularity.
In Japan, the company has scored a set of IBS claims similar to those in Canada, Smith said, and Taiyo is pursuing claims approval in the EU. The importance of the claims is clear for the Canadian market, but can be helpful in marketing the ingredient in the US even though the claims can’t go on the label or be featured on a customer’s website, he said.
“We want to get the word out about all the studies that support those benefits. We were very pleased that Health Canada agreed with us and actually took the claims a bit farther than what we were asking for,” Smith said.
Not all fibers created equal
Sunfiber is a galactomannan, a partially hydrolyzed form of guar gum. The ingredient, which has been under development for almost 25 years, is tasteless and odorless and, unlike other fibers that have IBS benefit claims such as wheat bran and psyllium seed, does not promote viscosity. In addition, Smith said that the dosage is very low compared to other fibers.
Smith said as the market comes to appreciate these more focused benefits of the ingredient, it helps to level the playing field for fibers. The scientific understanding of the role of fiber in the gut has ramified over the years (when was the last time you heard the term ‘roughage?’), and the days of viewing it as pure bulking agent are coming to an end. And the days of viewing fibers as all created pretty much equal are numbered, too.
“Over the years there were not necessarily claims available other than nutrient content claims. Then it’s just a matter of how many grams do I have in my product. When it comes to that, then it’s just a price issue. If all I can have is the nutrient content claim, then I want to buy the absolute cheapest source,” Smith said.