White flour has become the enfant terrible of the world of nutrition. 90% of adults are thought to get insufficient fibre in their diet, and the finger of blame is pointed squarely in one direction - highly refined white flour.
It’s true that for the past 100 years or more, we’ve had a love affair with white flour. White bread. Pasta. Pastry. A whole range of baked goods, savoury and sweet. These are staples of most people’s diets. Take away potatoes and rice, and they are the primary source of carbohydrates in most people’s food.
The problem? White flour has virtually no fibre in it. It’s now understood that fibre, though itself indigestible, plays a key role in regulating the microbiota of the gut and keeping the gut healthy. And our gut has a surprisingly wide-ranging influence on our general health.
Eat too little fibre and your gut is unlikely to be in its healthiest state. And that leads to issues as varied as high cholesterol and heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and a wide range of digestive tract problems.
Because cereals make up such a large proportion of our diet, if we’re not getting fibre from them, it’s hard to get the optimum 30g of fibre a day the average adult needs. But what public health authorities, nutritionists and food producers are realising is that asking people to make a wholesale shift in their diet and swap white flour for wholegrain doesn’t get very far. Whatever the health drawbacks, the preference for foodstuffs made from white flour runs deep.
The question then becomes how can you provide the food people want to eat, but make it richer in fibre?
The answer is high-fibre additives like GOFOS.
Cereal grain has three parts to it - the germ, or the part that germinates to grow into a new plant; the bran, or the hard protective outer layer; and the endosperm, the inner part that is rich in starch.
People have always been mostly interested in the starchy endosperm for culinary purposes. But for most of the history of cereal milling, after crushing the ‘wholegrain’, it has been incredibly hard to separate the bits of bran and germ from the starchy stuff in the centre. So people ate the lot.
It just so happens that these less desirable parts are rich in fibre.
Everything changed in the latter half of the 19th century, as industrial roller mills became increasingly prevalent. These mills made it possible to efficiently separate the starchy powder from the crushed endosperm from the larger crushed lumps of bran and germ.
White flour quickly became affordable and readily available. People liked the milder taste and smoother texture, bakers liked the greater stability and longer shelf lives they could achieve.
And that’s where we remain today. For most people, white flour wins on taste and convenience. But it leaves a big nutritional hole.
The realisation that refining flour removes much of its nutritional value is not a new thing. White flour has been fortified with iron and Vitamin Bs niacin, thiamine and riboflavin since the 1930s, after scientists made the connection between these being removed in the wheatgerm and a range of diseases that were on the rise.
Adding dietary fibre to products made from white bread is just a new wave of fortification. GOFOS is an especially exciting option, part of a family of complex carbohydrates called fructo-oligosaccharides which are changing the landscape of dietary fibre additives.
Derived from beets, GOFOS is particularly appealing for adding to sweet baked goods because it is itself sweet - about half as sweet as ordinary sugar, in fact.
Despite its sweet taste, GOFOS is indigestible, meaning it has zero calories - all the benefits, with no drawbacks.
Norkem is a key part of the supply chain making GOFOS available in the UK. Please contact our food and drink sales team to find out more, including our ability to also supply Iron powder for similar applications too.