Pepsi-Cola isn’t exactly in a healthy industry. Over the past years, big soda companies like Pepsi and Coke have been scrutinized for contributing to the obesity epidemic. In light of this, Pepsi just announced a new fiber-infused flavor, “Pepsi Special,” that claims to reduce fat levels in the body. The product is only sold in Japan.
Pepsi Special contains dextrin, “a type of ‘functional fiber,'” explained our resident dietitian, Mary Hartley, RD. “This is a fiber isolated or extracted from a plant (or, in some cases, manufactured) added to a food. Dextrins are true soluble fibers that can help improve digestion. They act as ‘prebiotics,’ undigested fibers that feed the friendly bacteria in the colon.”
Benefits of dextrin include stabilizing blood glucose, regulating insulin, reducing risk of heart disease, and reducing cholesterol and fat cell levels in the body. Dextrin can be found in glue products as well, but it’s not safe to consume in that form. There are a number of foods and medications that contain dextrin and have for about half a century, notes Hartley. “Most people eat some dextrins every day without noticing a change in weight,” she said.
Will drinking the new Pepsi product make you skinnier? Probably not.
“Pepsi Special is a gimmick. It is just another product to increase market share,” calls out Hartley.
Products like this just fool consumers in to thinking they’re doing something better for themselves while maintaining a long-held habit. Companies like Pepsi need to do a better job of removing harmful and unhealthy ingredients before they try to mask existing products.
Harmful and unhealthy ingredients in Pepsi Special include phosphoric acid, sugar, and caffeine. Phosphoric acid weakens the bones because it reduces calcium levels in the body. Sugar is an unhealthy ingredient that causes tooth decay and weight gain; unfortunately, most soda companies, Pepsi included, rely on high fructose corn syrup instead of sugar. Caffeine is addictive and it can cause an individual to become dizzy and irritable, as well as cause a person to have trouble sleeping and have headaches.
If you want to reap the benefits of fiber in your diet, as with most foods, it’s better to eat it than drink it.
Hartley points out that, “The best way to increase soluble fiber is to eat more vegetables, beans, fresh and dried fruits, and whole grains at every meal. The natural fiber in those foods will create a feeling of fullness, while providing healthy nutrients at the same time, without the empty (and expensive) calories from sugar in soda.”
She doesn’t expect consumers of Pepsi Special to notice a feeling of fullness after drinking the new soda. In fact, the results might not be pleasant at all. “Dextrin and its soda carrier will definitely not produce weight loss, and it may cause bloating and gas when introduced to the body.”