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New Research – Health Benefits of Fiber Expand

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

Two insightful science articles recently came out that are worth sharing, one on diet and the other on exercise. I will share the diet article first.

The link here and below is to an article about dietary fiber. There is an expanded understanding as to how fiber contributes to human health. We many of us know, fiber helps regulate our bowels which may play a role in lowering colon cancer rates. Fiber may reduce cholesterol, perhaps by absorbing it in the gut so it passes out of our body. And it might lower inflammation in our body which helps prevent heart disease, etc. We know there is both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber that isn’t digested in the body. Insoluble fiber absorbs waters in the intestines thus increasing in its bulk which helps move (things) along. This is all still true.

This BBC article linked here summarizes the latest research on how fiber actually works in the body to benefit our health. The biggest takeaway for me was learning that indigestible dietary fiber is the primary food source for our gut bacteria.

Relatively new science has found that a diverse and balanced intestinal flora is essential to good health and that disrupting that balance can lead to diseases as well as infections like Merca, Sepsis, and death. We know that gut bacteria act like miniature chemical factories producing all sorts of exotic substances that our body relies on but cannot make on its own.

So the trend has been to toss back a copious amount of pro-biotic capsules, which contain a handful of different bacteria that are supposed to be present in the gut. continually ingesting these little blighters never made much sense to me. It makes sense to re-seed your bowels during and after a course of antibiotics that kills off these good bugs, but if the environment down there is healthy, and probiotic capsules have live bacteria, seeding the gut should be all that is needed.

Now I realize that feeding the bacteria that live in our intestines is the most important part of maintaining a healthy digestive ecosystem and that dietary fiber is their food of choice. The article talks about how much fiber we need and how to get it.

The unanswered question for me is this; Are there high-quality fibers more inducive to good health and low-quality fibers that aren’t as good for our intestinal flora? For example, is the psyllium fiber Metamucil less edible than say, the fiber in an apple?

The link: https://www.bbc.com/news/health-46827426