Besides providing vibrant forest ecosystems and Christmas trees, conifer trees have also delivered a series of health-enhancing medicines and nutraceuticals. For example, taxol is an alkaloid from the Pacific Yew tree (Taxus brevifolia) that is now a chemotherapy drug for several types of cancer. The French maritime pine (Pinus pinaster ssp. atlantica) shows promise for a number of conditions--namely, asthma and chronic venous insufficiency.

Now, along comes a new nutraceutical, FiberAid®, which has attained self-affirmed GRAS status (through FDA notification) and is being launched into the food market. FiberAid is the brand name ingredient for Larch arabinogalactan, the soluble prebiotic fiber extracted from Eastern and Western larch trees.

This Larch arabinogalactan is extracted by Lonza from larch trees that grow in abundance in the U.S. via a patented process. FiberAid is a soluble, prebiotic fiber that offers benefits for gastrointestinal health and wellness. It is composed of galactose and arabinose in a 6:1 ratio that is useful for stimulating the growth of beneficial gut microflora.

Both human and in vitro data have found that Larch arabinogalactan can positively enhance gut microflora, increasing beneficial bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. One piece of evidence on the prebiotic’s activity reported in the literature is that short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are increased by the ingredient. SCFAs lower pH in the colon, which, in turn, stimulates the growth of beneficial bacteria. SCFAs also have other positive effects for the human body, such as acetate and propionate, which are absorbed by the gut and provide energy for the brain, muscle and heart; butyrate also provides about half the energy requirements of the gut.

Another activity through which FiberAid enhances health is by decreasing the amount of ammonia generated and absorbed in the gut. Ammonia is produced naturally by the deamination of amino acids by microflora, and high levels contribute to detrimental health conditions.

FiberAid is available as a free-flowing powder and can be ingested alone or combined with other products. It is highly soluble in water; is stable at a wide temperature and pH range; and in beverages, it does not degrade or lose functionality. It also has very little sensory impact, with minimal mouthfeel and viscosity. As a functional bonus, it retains moisture in baked goods and has improved dough-handling characteristics.   pf
--Kerry Hughes, Contributing Editor

For more information:
Lonza Inc. • Allendale, N.J.
Christine Casper • 201-316-9236
Christine.casper@lonza.com www.lonza.com