Eat more fiber. You’ve probably heard it before. But have you wondered why and how the fibers are good for you?
Fiber is a carbohydrate that our body cannot digest. Fiber comes in two varieties: soluble and insoluble. Both are good for you. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, slows digestion and helps to lower glucose levels and cholesterol. Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water and helps move food through your digestive system.
Most Americans don’t get the daily-recommended amount of fiber in their diet, which is 25 grams of fiber per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. Now, there is a one more reason that you should load up with fiber-rich food. A study published on the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that dietary fibers may assist in weight loss when made part of a long-term, daily diet.
In the study, 20 healthy men with an average fiber intake of 14 grams a day were given snack bars to supplement their diet. The control group received snack bars that contained no fiber; a second group ate snack bars that contained 21 grams of polydextrose, which is a common fiber food additive; and a third group received snack bars with 21 grams of soluble corn fiber. Fecal samples were collected from the participants and the bacterial genetic information in the fecal microbiome is examined.
The results showed that the ratio of Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes shifted toward more Bacteroidetes in the gut microbiome samples from the group with the fiber supplements. This shift is important because other researches have shown that the individuals with higher Bacteroidetes tend to be leaner, whereas individuals with higher Firmicutes tend to be more obese, and that having a higher fiber diet is protective against obesity.
The researchers further reported that, though there were significant “good” shifts in the gut bacterial populations with fiber supplements, populations seemed to go back to where they were before when the supplements were stopped. Therefore, taking the fiber supplements everyday is essential in maintaining a healthier gut.
Thanks for reading.
H. D. Holscher, J. G. Caporaso, S. Hooda, J. M. Brulc, G. C. Fahey, K. S. Swanson. Fiber supplementation influences phylogenetic structure and functional capacity of the human intestinal microbiome: follow-up of a randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2014; DOI: 10.3945/%u200Bajcn.114.092064
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