Have you ever heard someone say that you should consume more fibers because they are good for you? Even though you know that consuming dietary fibers is a good thing but never knew the exact reasons behind it? Then don’t worry we have got you covered.
Did you know the daily recommended dietary fiber intake is around 14g/1,000 Kcal. Which translates to an average of 25g for females and 38g for males. Most people can’t seem to consume the recommended amount of fibers that is needed. The fast life accompanied by poor food choices is to be blamed here.[bctt tweet=”
Did you know the daily recommended dietary fiber intake is around 14g/1,000 Kcal. Which translates to an average of 25g for females and 38g for males. “]
Though the recommended daily intake of fiber is around 14g/1,000 Kcal eating around 40g of fibers every day will provide individuals with a number of benefits. Today we’ll discuss a few of them here to see how you get the benefits from including some dietary fibers in your food.
1 – Reduced Constipation
Gastrointestinal problems like constipation are one of the most common issues that a majority of the population faces each day. Adding a little bit of fiber is one of the quickest and easiest ways get rid of this problem.
Consuming dietary fibers acts as a bulking agent to the stool. This translates to reduced constipation by moving by adding stool consistency, increasing stool weight and frequency of defecation.
This increased bulking reduces the transit times. This is one of the most widely known benefits of consuming dietary fibers in general. Having a bowl that is consistent is one of the best indicators of colonic function and health.
Each kind of fiber has its own unique bulking capacity, depending on various underlying mechanisms.
Some fibers add bulk to the stool by binding water while other fermentable fibers add bulk mainly due to bacteria mass.
2 – Improved Digestion
It is a well-known fact that consuming dietary fibers regularly promotes a healthy digestive tract. While insoluble fibers only act as bulking agents that help with regularity. Soluble fibers which ferment in the colon act as food for the bacteria.
These fermentable fibers when consumed by our gut bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). This kind of fermentation actively facilitates digestive health. Two primary SCFAs was known as butyrate and propionate act as vital substances that promote our well being by optimizing the motor activity of the colon.
SCFAs also help regulate the physiological intestinal mobility. They also contribute to the build and defend the intestinal barrier, keeping the colon working at its optimal. In addition to that butyrate acts as the primary and preferred fuel source for our colon cells.
New research evidence suggests that SCFAs may help act as anti-cancer and anti-inflammation agents inside the gut, thereby reducing the risks of cancer greatly.
3 – Improved Regularity
Improving regularity is one of the clearest and distinct benefits of adding dietary fibers. Many suffer from constipation and irregular bowel movements which lead to a constant uncomfortable sensation.
What does regularity mean? It can be defined as easy elimination of bulky stool that is soft enough and easy to pass. Regularity can be further classified by the output of stool which can be assessed in grams per day or week and the percentage of water it contains.
For improving regularity first one should focus on increasing the number of insoluble fibers in their diet. Insoluble fibers increase the secretion of water in the large bowel while also increasing the mucous. This makes the stool bulky and soft that, it can pass easily at regular intervals.
Increasing soluble fibers can also help by forming a gel that increases the water-holding capacity of the stool. Both kinds of fibers help increase stool water content thereby, resulting in a bulky soft stool that is easy to pass at regular intervals.
Adding a variety of dietary fibers to your diet can help provide the body with different kinds of soluble and insoluble fibers. Having a variety of dietary fibers is the key to a healthy colon and microbiome that works well.
4 – Reduced Blood Glucose Levels
High blood glucose levels are related to health issues like heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, vision problems, and nerve problems. In this age, where most people consume high amounts of carbs of a daily basis makes these problems worse.
As we have seen a rise in diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and many more. Making an effort to control our blood sugar levels is we all should care about. This is again where dietary fibers can help us.
For over 30 years various research and studies have shown that viscosity of fiber is related to a reduction in postprandial blood glucose. Reduced postprandial blood glucose levels can be considered as one of the beneficial effects of viscous fibers also known as soluble fibers.
These fibers are known to slow down the absorption of glucose and other nutrients at brush border in the intestine. This can lower the glycemic impact of most foods thus causing a lower rise in blood glucose levels. Adding some soluble fibers with food that have a high glycemic index can help control high glucose spike and also help by slowly raising the blood glucose levels.
Many companies have been adding a variety of dietary fibers in their products to achieve this slower rise in blood glucose. Using psyllium, guar gum can help achieve this, you can also use other artificially made fibers such as digestion resistant maltodextrin which contains up to 90% soluble fiber.
Adding soluble dietary fibers can help individuals reduce the chance developing type 2 diabetes. Gel-forming fibers have been shown to improve fasting blood glucose levels, insulin, and glycated hemoglobin.
5 – Reduced Cholesterol Levels
Having high levels of cholesterol can make you vulnerable to health problems like heart failure, heart attack, store, and other problems caused by clogged blood vessels. Although having high levels of cholesterol does not mean that someone might get a heart attack, the chances of it happening can go up with a majority of people.
Many studies have linked a high-fiber diet with improvements in serum lipids, total cholesterol. Eating a high fiber diet can also improve your low-density lipoproteins cholesterol (LDL-C), high-density lipoproteins cholesterol (HDL-C), and triglyceride levels.
Epidemiological studies have also confirmed that individuals consuming high amounts of dietary fibers were at a lower risk of coronary heart disease.
Other research studies have also shown that consuming viscous soluble fibers (i.e., psyllium, guar gum, resistant maltodextrin) reduce absorption cholesterol. The way this happens is the increased viscosity of the gel-forming fibers trap bile and its cholesterol components. Bile is produced in the liver, stored and concentrated in the gallbladder. It is then released into the small bowel in response to a meal.
Bile helps with the digestion and absorption of dietary lipid levels. It is normally recovered in the terminal ileum and recycled. This process can happen several times within a given meal. The gel-forming fibers become more concentrated as the water is reabsorbed along the length of the small bowel. This cause the fibers to become more viscous thereby trapping bile and interfering with the reabsorption. This trapped bile is then eliminated in the stool thereby, reducing the levels of cholesterol in the body.
6 – Increased Insulin Sensitivity
Being insulin resistant is one of the issues that lead to type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases. Adding resistant starch to the diet can help increase insulin sensitivity. The microbiome works with these resistant starches to improve the sensitivity towards insulin.
Digestion-resistant starch, maltodextrin as well as isolates from high amylose corn have been shown to increase insulin sensitivity.
Research has shown that the fermentation process which takes place in the large intestine can be the contributing to the benefits. By producing a large amount of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that are produced by our microbiome, the body triggers hormones that are related to insulin sensitivity.
This elicits a shift in the metabolism within the intestinal tract by up-regulating the production of certain hormones that are important to lipids and carbohydrate metabolism.
Adding a few resistant fibers in the diet is enough to increase insulin sensitivity in most people. Consuming these resistant starches would only have long term benefits that can result in avoiding health issues like Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other cardiovascular disorders. So it is recommended to eat high amounts of fermentable fibers.
7 – Weight Management
With obesity epidemic affecting more and more people every day it becomes paramount to add food to your diet that can help manage weight efficiently.
Adding dietary fibers can contribute to maintaining a healthy weight. Many research data has consistently shown that obese adults consume way less dietary fibers than their lean counterparts. By slowing the gastric emptying, reducing hunger and food intake, fibers can help manage weight. The kind of fibers that have been consistent to show results have been viscous fibers.
Insoluble fibers have also been shown to help by slowing down the digestion process which makes you feel fuller for a longer time. Adding certain insoluble fibers can also help reduce the inflammation inside the gut. Combining this with a healthier microbiome can further reduce inflammation by the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).
The short-fatty acids increase certain hormones that are important to lipid and carbohydrate metabolism.
Every type of fiber has a different effect on the body, mixing a variety of fibers can certainly help with the weight management making it easier to lose weight.
8 – Increased Vitamin And Mineral Absorption
We have all been there, Trying to figure out if we are getting enough Vitamins and Minerals. Let’s assume that you do eat enough of these but, what if they aren’t getting absorbed the way they should?!
Fermentable fiber sources have been shown to improve the absorption of Vitamins and Minerals, especially calcium
Clinical studies have also demonstrated improved Calcium and Vitamin D absorption with improvements in bone density in adolescents. This was the result of consuming short-chain and long-chain, inulin-type fructans which are a common type of fermentable fiber. This can also be achieved with digestive resistant starches.
There are several potential mechanisms that can explain why oligosaccharides work so well as a prebiotic.
Fermentable fibers increase the absorption capacity of the cells within the intestinal tract for minerals and vitamins. This done is two ways, either by increasing the absorptive area or by increasing the active transporter pathways.
Fermentation can also help lower the intestinal pH. This increases the solubility of Minerals and Vitamins thereby, enhancing passive absorption within the large intestine.
The human colon was generally never associated with absorption of Vitamins and Minerals but there is increasing evidence that our colon can absorb nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D.
9 – Increased Immune Support
A healthy functioning immune system is a sign of good health. With a majority of our immune system being in the gut, having a healthy gut is key to a good immune system.
Some fermentable fibers have been shown to provide support for a healthier immune function. This is achieved two ways. First, by increasing the levels of beneficial bacteria. These include Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus. Second, by reducing the adhesion of pathogens to the colonic cell walls. This aids in flushing them out from the digestive tract.
For some time now, Prebiotic Oligosaccharides also known as GOS have been added to infant formula. This is to imitate the beneficial effects of breastmilk for newborn infants and young children. Milk oligosaccharides that are present in breastmilk have a huge impact on the initial bacterial colonization within the newborn baby’s intestinal tract. This microbiota then facilitates proper digestion and also helps provide stimulation and balance for the immune system. As the baby grows so does the microbiome, becoming better or worse with the food choices of the individual.
Some research has shown that infant formula that was fortified with prebiotic oligosaccharides can improve the immune function. Establishing this early microbiota can contribute to long-term health outcomes. As early colonization of good microbiota can have a stronger adhesion and persistence within the intestinal tract of the infants than bacteria consumed later in life.
This is not only the case for newborns, consuming good amounts of dietary fibers can as an adult can also help do the same. A healthy microbiome can help maintain a proper immune function.
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