Artificial gut cuts GI food development costs

By Lindsey Partos

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Low gi, Carbohydrate, Nutrition

An artificial gut that predicts the glycemic index (GI) and resistant starch in food products could bring cost-savings for formulators pushing new product development in health-positioned foods.

Developed by Australia's CSIRO Food Futures Flagship, Australian firm Stadvis has gained the license agreement to globally market the gut instrument, called the GI and RS analyser, to food makers and laboratories.

This latest development from Australia follows the artificial nose, throat and electronic tongue - all launched in recent years by different developers - to a marketplace eager for objective, cost-cutting tools that can save food makers both time and money, equating to a competitive turnaround to market.

"Its principal purpose is to help food manufacturers develop a wider range of healthy food products far more cheaply and quickly than possible previously,"​ said Dr Bruce Lee, director of the Food Futures Flagship.

Indeed, Dr. Lee claims the artificial gut will help address growing demand for foods "with defined health benefits through low GI and higher fibre content - particularly resistant starch."

R&D focus

Against the backdrop of soaring figures for obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, food firms are increasingly placing R&D funds into new product development for foods that proffer a low GI status and a higher fibre content.

The majority of starches are eaten, digested and absorbed into the human body via the small intestine, but some do resist digestion and pass through to the large intestine where they act like dietary fibre and improve digestive health. This type of starch is called resistant starch.

The GI index measures how quickly certain foods release carbohydrates into the body, which then raise consumers' blood glucose levels. High GI foods cause blood sugar levels to rise more rapidly whereas a low GI rating, that takes longer to digest and release sugar into the bloodstream, provides consumers with the satiety, 'full' sensation.

The CSIRO director attests the artificial gut device has the capability to help food makers "achieve the goal"​ of rolling out more products "with appropriate health benefits".

First of its kind

According to the artificial gut developers, the GI and RS (resistant starch) analyser, originally developed to test properties of new grains worked on by the Flagship, is "the first of its kind in the world" ​and works by mimicking the human digestion process.

As such, the prototype functions as an alternative to the current in-vivo​ (human) method, claim the scientists.

Predicting the glycemic index through the in-vivo​ method involves feeding the test food to a number of human volunteers and taking regular blood samples over the following hours to monitor changing blood sugar levels.

The gut device, by contrast, can replace "this expensive and time consuming process"​ in the development phase of products, leaving the standard human test to the final stage of food development and labelling procedures.

Related topics: Ingredients

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