What is fiber?
Fiber is a type of complex carbohydrate. I hear you. What a carb? Not interested. Wait a minute before jumping to conclusions. Although fiber is a carbohydrate, it does not behave like refined sugars. With refined carbs, digestion starts in the mouth and within 20 minutes it is absorbed in the small intestine. Fiber on the contrary reaches the colon the same way as it went into your mouth.
Humans are incapable of digesting fiber on their own. We outsource this to fiber and complex carbohydrate-processing enzymes to help break them down. And where are these enzymes located exactly? Yes, in our gut microbiota. Our gut may contain up to sixty thousand of these enzymes. Why so much? There are up to three hundred thousand plants in nature and potentially up to millions of types of fiber. And each one of them require a unique team of enzymes to get the job done.
Why is fiber so important?
There are two forms of fiber: soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel–like substance. This type of fiber helps to reduce cholesterol levels and may also help to control blood sugar levels. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It provides bulk to the stool, which helps to move it through the digestive system more quickly. This type of fiber helps to prevent constipation and other digestive problems.
The breakdown of the fiber by our gut microbes unleashes short chain fatty acids: a unique healing nutrient for intestinal health. They are the dominant energy source for your colon, support a healthy gut microbiota, repair leaky gut, prevent the growth of inflammatory bacteria, promote intestinal motility, and decrease visceral hypersensitivity.
Where to find fiber?
Fiber can be found in a wide range of plant–based foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Soluble fiber can be found in foods such as oatmeal, apples, oranges, barley, and peas. Insoluble fiber can be found in foods such as wheat bran, whole-grain bread, nuts, beans, and vegetables.
Diversity is key here. Ever heard of the expression, eat the rainbow? The reason why it is so important is that every plant has its unique mix of gut-healing fiber. And the greater the variety of fiber we eat, the greater the diversity of our gut microbiota.
How much should we eat?
Recommended amounts are 14 grams per 1.000 calories.
But diversity is key here. Ever heard of the expression, eat the rainbow? The reason why this is so important, is that every plant has its unique mix of gut-healing fiber. And the greater the variety of fiber we eat, the greater the diversity of our gut microbiota.
If you are looking to optimize your gut health, but don’t know where to begin, feel free to reach out to me. I can help you. E-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Fiber Fueled by Will Bulsiewicz, MD, MSCI