Synthetic fibers are common in many packaged foods and supplements in the United States. However, Europe is more cautious, with the safety of synthetic fibers remaining under scrutiny. Ovvia® refers to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) guidelines as the FDA is still updating its regulations.
Natural fibers originate from whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains (1). Synthetic fibers, made in labs, are frequently added to processed foods to increase fiber content or improve texture (2). The EFSA holds stricter standards than the FDA, approving synthetic fibers such as:
Natural fiber consumption has been linked to improved digestion, reduced risk of chronic diseases, and effective weight management (3). European food policy emphasizes using whole, minimally processed ingredients (4), generally leading to healthier products than heavily processed alternatives.
After consuming foods with synthetic fibers, some people report gastrointestinal discomforts like gas, bloating, and cramping (5). While the full health impacts aren't fully understood, and more research is needed, it's crucial to consider potential side effects when selecting fiber-rich products. Some packaged foods containing synthetic fibers may pose a choking hazard. Always read labels for the latest warnings and instructions before consumption.
See the image of an actual powdered, well-known fiber supplement below:
To minimize potential health risks, focus on consuming whole, natural foods rich in dietary fiber (6,8). Read labels carefully, selecting products with whole grains and few additives. Whenever possible, avoid products with synthetic fiber.
A balanced diet rich in natural fibers from whole foods is the best way to support your digestive health and overall well-being. Stay informed, read labels, and make choices that align with your health goals!
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