Fiber 101: Your ultimate guide to everything fiber

Fiber 101: Your ultimate guide to everything fiber

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors used to eat between 100-150 grams of fiber every day, whereas now, people are lucky if they achieve even 15 grams of fiber. While some people may believe that fiber is merely a tool to keep you regular in the bathroom department, fiber is actually essential to the health of our gut microbiome, which in turn is the key to our overall metabolic and immune health.

With today's processed diets and overzealous use of things like antibiotics, America's gut microbiomes are, for the most part, wilting. Hence we've seen spikes in chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and why people are increasingly struggling to focus, lack mental clarity and are gaining weight. This, and so much more, can be attributed in part to an unhealthy gut microbiome. And so increasing our fiber intake to help restore and nourish our gut is imperative. 

But to fully reap the benefits of a high fiber diet, you first need to understand what fiber is and why not all fiber is created equal. We’ll help you navigate what the research says about fiber, how it works, and what clinical advances say about using fiber to treat gut disorders—as well as introduce you to Eden's, our 3-in-1 daily synbiotic containing a superblend of probiotics, prebiotics and polyphenols that are scientifically proven to nurture your gut back to health.

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How is dietary fiber beneficial to health?

It has been demonstrated that fiber, a crucial part of a balanced diet, reduces the risk of death from heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer. It also helps people maintain a healthy body weight and reduces inflammation and cholesterol.

Yet, only 45% of Americans consume the daily recommended amount of fiber, according to the USDA. In the words of Hippocrates, "Let food be thy medicine." It's time to start consuming more fiber.

What is fiber?

Your body is unable to digest fiber, a particular type of carbohydrate. Given that fiber originates from plants (namely, fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes), the more plants you consume, the more fiber you consume. However, even though you are unable to digest it, the bacteria in your gut can. This is why beans have earned the moniker "the musical fruit", because certain results of bacterial fiber digestion (fermentation) contain various gases.

Are all types of fibers created equal? 

You're not the only one who finds it confusing to know what kind of fiber to eat, how much to consume, why, and for what purposes. Because there are so many variables that might impact how fiber functions, including whether the fiber was created synthetically or came from food, fiber research is challenging.

The fibers in whole foods that are considered dietary are as follows: Whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables are examples of dietary fibers. Although isolated and extracted fibers can be found in food sources, they are usually taken as dietary supplements.

Every fiber has the following three main characteristics:

  • Solubility: does the fiber dissolve in water?
  • Viscosity: does the fiber thicken or form a gel when mixed with water?
  • Fermentability: is the fiber digested by bacteria in your GI tract?

These characteristics can vary widely from fiber to fiber, and they determine how each type of fiber works inside the human body. For example:

  • Soluble fibers, which include gums, pectins, and fructans, are digested in the small intestine and aid in nutrient absorption.
  • Insoluble fibers, such as lignin and cellulose, regulate digestion and help you avoid constipation.
  • Viscous fibers, which also are typically soluble fibers, help control blood sugar spikes after eating. They also help you feel full.
  • Nearly all fibers are fermentable, but some are more readily fermented than others. The byproducts of fermentation include beneficial molecules such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which support a healthy digestive system, glucose control, and immunity.

What are the health benefits of fiber?

Including extra fiber in your diet has a number of positive health effects, including:

1. More fiber keeps your gut microbes happy.

Your gut's microbes, generally referred to as your microbiome, have an impact on a variety of biological processes, helping to control everything from your appetite and weight to immunity and mood. Making sure your gut microbes get adequate fiber has a significant impact on your health, according to research:

  • Fiber has been shown to nourish microorganisms so that they continue to grow and diversify. And the more varied your gut bacteria are, the more they contribute to heightened immunity and reduced inflammation — both of which are associated with more positive health outcomes, including reduced risk of diabetes.
  • Prebiotic fibers, in particular, selectively stimulate the growth and metabolic activity of gut microbes. They are digested quickly by microbes that produce beneficial molecules for humans, including the important and beneficial SCFAs (butyrate, acetate, and propionate) — which are believed to play a role in regulating appetite, immune system function, and blood sugar. 
  • Examples of prebiotics include oligofructose, inulin, and galacto-oligosaccharides. While these prebiotics do exist as over-the-counter supplements, you can get them from fresh, whole foods such as chicory root, raw dandelion greens, Jerusalem artichoke, leeks, asparagus, onions, wheat, garlic, chicory, oats, soybeans, beans, certain root vegetables and certain dairy products. (Note that some of these foods are also considered FODMAPs, which can worsen IBS symptoms in some individuals.)

2. High-fiber foods also help with blood sugar control.

Your digestive system will convert food into glucose more slowly if you include more fiber in your meals, which will decrease the rise in your blood sugar levels. Less peaks and valleys in energy mean less inflammation and less stress on the body's many systems.

3. A diet high in fiber can help you stay slim.

As previously established, high fiber diets contribute to improved gut bacterial diversity and advantageous metabolic activity. These various gut bacteria not only contribute to weight maintenance directly but also indirectly through their anti-inflammatory activity. Because obesity increases the risk of developing metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, weight control is crucial.

4. Fibers enhance nutrient absorption.

Fiber isn’t just good for your gut; some fibers may also help you obtain more nutrients from the foods you eat:

  • Fructans increase calcium absorption.
  • Some fibers can help you better absorb fat-soluble vitamins.

But take care when selecting fiber; some fiber types actually make it harder for you to get nutrients:

  • Cereal-derived fibers, while typically a great source of iron, zinc and calcium, may also contain factors (e.g., bran) that make it harder to absorb those nutrients.
  • Some fibers have been shown to increase the passage of vitamins in stool.

5. Fiber has a role in medical management.

Researchers are currently trying to figure out which forms of fiber are good for various gut illnesses, but data and conclusions acquired to date include the following:

  • Diets lacking fiber are associated with imbalanced (i.e., dysbiotic) gut bacteria communities. Dysbiotic communities have been associated with a number of gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, including inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), insoluble fibers appear to make symptoms worse, while soluble fibers can improve symptoms; however, the impact of fiber also seems to depend on whether the patient has constipation-predominant IBS or diarrhea-predominant IBS.
  • Dysbiosis may also aid in the progression of insulin resistance, putting you at increased risk for diabetes (because the body is no longer able to produce enough insulin or use the insulin it makes effectively). The end result: more sugar in your blood. While it’s unclear exactly what mechanisms are at play here, dysbiosis “may reshape intestinal barrier functions and host metabolic and signaling pathways, which are directly or indirectly related to the insulin resistance” in type 2 diabetes, according to a 2019 study.
  • In inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), research points to prebiotic supplementation to favor beneficial bacteria and increase production of anti-inflammatory SCFAs; additionally, fiber was more beneficial in patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) than in patients with Crohn’s disease (CD).
  • There is little evidence that fiber benefits patients with diverticulitis.
  • Although fiber has been shown to reduce constipation and improve bowel movements, there is little evidence that fiber can benefit patients with functional constipation (i.e., chronic constipation in which patients have hard, infrequent, difficult to pass bowel movements).
  • Early studies suggest that administering different types of fiber together (co-administration) could provide significant benefit to patients with gut disorders.
  • Natural fibers (fibers obtained from eating whole foods) might elicit the same benefits as co-administration but with the added benefit of additional micronutrients; however, caloric intake could rise as well.

How Eden's helps improve gut health

Eden’s is an all-natural supplement which has been scientifically formulated using state-of-the-art technologies for the improvement of digestive, cardiovascular, immunological, and overall metabolic health. It is a 3:1 synbiotic blend of prebiotic fibers, polyphenols, and probiotics and our formulation was purpose-designed to fuel specific gut bacteria responsible for increasing the production of beneficial bioactives known to play a role in digestive function, brain health, immune balance, appetite regulation, weight loss, glucose and lipid control.

Eden's is supercharged with 11.2 grams of dietary fiber with a precise ratio of soluble and insoluble fibers, 750 milligrams of polyphenols, and 12.5 billion CFUs of probiotics. 

Just take one scoop of Eden's each day to nourish your gut with our blend of clinically-tested prebiotic fibers, plant-based antioxidants, and probiotics. Feel the benefits of a healthy metabolism: balanced blood sugar, better appetite control, sustained energy, and more.

3-in-1 Synbiotic Superblend

Key takeaways

Fibers’ mode of action is dictated by a combination of solubility, viscosity, and fermentability. For most people, consuming a diet high in fiber (i.e., whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes) supports a healthy community of gut bacteria, helps maintain a well-functioning digestive system, aids in regulating blood sugar levels, helps keep weight in check, and enhances nutrient absorption. Fiber also plays an important role in the medical management of certain GI disorders. 

 

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