What Is Isomalto-oligosaccharide (IMO)?

Zolli Candy has chosen not to use Isomalto-oligosaccharide (IMO) in our products. Here we take a look at why.

What Is Isomalto-oligosaccharide (IMO)?

Isomalto-oligosaccharide, is a type of sweetener and fiber that is often used in processed foods like protein bars. However, it may have negative effects on your blood sugar, fiber intake, and gut health.

IMO May Not Be a True Fiber

One of the main selling points of IMO is that it is a prebiotic fiber that feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut. However, this claim is based on studies using natural IMO sources, not the industrial ones that are commonly used in packaged foods.


According to the FDA, dietary fiber is defined as “non-digestible soluble and insoluble carbohydrates (with 3 or more monomeric units), and lignin that are intrinsic and intact in plants; isolated or synthetic non-digestible carbohydrates (with 3 or more monomeric units) determined by FDA to have physiological effects that are beneficial to human health.”


Based on this definition, industrial IMO does not qualify as a dietary fiber, since it is not intrinsic and intact in plants, nor has it been shown to have beneficial physiological effects on human health. In fact, the FDA has rejected several petitions from IMO manufacturers to recognize their products as dietary fibers.


This means that the fiber content of many protein bars that use IMO as a sweetener may be overstated, and the net carb content may be understated. This could be misleading for consumers who are trying to limit their carbohydrate intake or follow a low-carb diet.

IMO May Cause Digestive Issues

Another potential problem with IMO is that it may cause digestive discomfort and bloating in some people. This is because IMO is a type of FODMAP, which stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols. These are short-chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and can cause gas, pain, and diarrhea in some people, especially those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), or other digestive disorders.


While some FODMAPs are natural and healthy, such as those found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, others are synthetic and may have adverse effects on the gut microbiome, such as those found in sugar alcohols and IMO. Therefore, consuming large amounts of IMO may not be beneficial for your gut health, and may even worsen your symptoms if you have a sensitive digestive system.


Industrial IMO Spikes Blood Sugar

A 2017 investigation featured in the Journal of Insulin Resistance delved into the effects of Isomaltooligosaccharide (IMO) consumption on blood glucose, insulin, and breath hydrogen responses among both men and women in good health. The findings unveiled a noteworthy surge of almost 50 mg/dL in blood glucose levels, coupled with a five-fold increase in insulin within the first 30 minutes of IMO ingestion.

However, the concerns surrounding IMO don't end there. A separate 2017 study published in the Journal of Food Science explicitly highlighted the following:

"Analysis of the results concerning digestibility suggests that the potential glycemic impact of the ingredients and products containing 'industrial' IMO may deviate from the product labeling and/or certificates of analysis in terms of overall fiber content, prebiotic fiber content, and glycemic response. This misalignment renders such products unsuitable for individuals managing diabetes or adhering to low-carbohydrate diets, such as ketogenic diets."

In simpler terms, it's crucial to recognize that IMO doesn't function solely as prebiotic fiber and has been proven to induce significant spikes in blood glucose levels for certain individuals.


The Bottom Line

IMO is a popular ingredient in many protein bars and other processed foods that claim to be healthy, low-carb, and high-fiber. However, there is growing evidence that IMO may not be as good as it sounds, and may actually have negative impacts on your blood sugar, fiber intake, and gut health.


Therefore, it is advisable to be cautious when consuming products that contain IMO, and to read the labels carefully to avoid being misled by the marketing claims.


How Can I Avoid IMO?

Isomalto-oligosaccharide, is a type of sweetener and fiber that is often used in processed foods like protein bars. However, it may have negative effects on your blood sugar, fiber intake, and gut health. To avoid IMO in your diet, you can follow these tips:

  • Read the labels of packaged foods and look for IMO or other names like isomaltooligosaccharide, isomalto-oligosaccharide, IMO syrup, Fiber (IMO), IMO Fiber (powder or syrup), Inulin, or VitaFiber. Choose products that do not contain IMO or have a low amount of it.
  • Limit your intake of ultra-processed foods that are high in sugar, salt, and saturated fat. These foods may also contain IMO or other artificial sweeteners that can harm your health. Instead, focus on eating more whole foods that are rich in natural fiber and nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, eggs, poultry, and fish.
  • Follow a low-FODMAP diet if you have symptoms of intestinal methanogenic overgrowth (IMO) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). FODMAPs are types of carbohydrates that can cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea in some people. IMO is a high-FODMAP food that can worsen your symptoms. A low-FODMAP diet can help you identify and avoid the foods that trigger your digestive problems.


Zolli Candy Uses Isomalt - Here's Why

What is Isomalt?

Isomalt is a tooth-friendly, naturally sourced sugar replacement and is the only sweetener exclusively derived from sugar beet. It is 100% sugar-free and even helps to prevent tooth decay. Isomalt’s sweetening profile is about the same as sucrose (sugar) – but with half the calories!

Zolli Candy incorporates Isomalt, which stands out for its anti-cariogenic properties. Isomalt, a key ingredient in Zolli Candy, does not contribute to dental caries as oral bacteria cannot easily convert it into acids that lead to decay. Unlike sugar and other fermentable carbohydrates, consuming isomalt does not create acidic conditions that result in tooth demineralization. Additionally, oral bacteria are unable to convert isomalt into polyglucan, the substance responsible for the formation of dental plaque.


The inclusion of Isomalt in Zolli Candy not only prevents the development of acidic conditions that harm teeth but also plays a role in repairing early dental caries lesions. The sweet taste of Isomalt stimulates saliva production, effectively reducing acidity and promoting an increase in calcium levels on the tooth surface. These positive changes facilitate the remineralization process in areas that were previously damaged by acidic conditions caused by the consumption of fermentable carbohydrates.

Isomalt is:

  • Zero sugar
  • Diabetic friendly / Safe for diabetics
  • Isomalt is plant-based, non GMO
  • Supports a healthy smile and oral health – FDA approves oral health claims for Isomalt
  • Prebiotic carbohydrate that has been shown to improve flora in the digestive system – gut health - makes your tummy healthy and happy – see study reference below
  • Isomalt has been used for decades, safe, tested, and approved for use by public health authorities all over the world.

Isomalt Health Benefits:

  • Reducing the risk of tooth decay
  • Improving digestive health (see study reference below)
  • Helping to regulate blood sugar levels
  • Reducing cholesterol levels
  • Improving heart health



Isomalt has been used for decades, tested, and approved by the FDA for oral health. It is also approved for use by public health authorities all over the world. The FDA approves oral health claims for Isomalt, which supports a healthy smile and oral health. The FDA has also concluded, based on scientific evidence, to support the relationship between sugar alcohols such as xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol (and others) with the non promotion of dental caries.


Isomalt is a prebiotic carbohydrate that has been shown to improve flora in the digestive system, making your tummy healthy and happy. It has several health benefits, including reducing the risk of tooth decay, improving digestive health, helping to regulate blood sugar levels, reducing cholesterol levels, and improving heart health.


Isomalt, which is used widely as a low-glycemic and low-energy sweetener, has to be considered a prebiotic carbohydrate that might contribute to a healthy luminal environment of the colonic mucosa. A study conducted by NIH NLM found that isomalt consumption improves faecal microflora and colonic metabolism in healthy volunteers12.


It is important to note that Isomaltooligosaccharide

or IMO has been shown to significantly spike blood glucose. Competition from companies making dangerous health claims about being suitable for diabetics and posting fake reviews saying it is suitable for diabetics is high risk.


In conclusion, Zolli Candy products are a healthy and delicious alternative to traditional candy. They are vegan, allergy-free, sugar-free, keto, diabetic-friendly, non-GMO, gluten-free, dairy-free, made with natural flavors, no artificial colors, and kosher. Zolli Candy products are available at retailers everywhere and online.