Scientists discover the true power of dietary fiber

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Scientists discover the true power of dietary fiber

Each nutrient has its own characteristics and the human body can only digest them with bacteria in its intestine. With a view to better understanding the effects of carbohydrates on the body and the behavior of microbial colonies in the colon, researchers from the Duke University have carried out studies. The results of their experiments suggest that the fibers have a more important role than it seems.

Food on the table

Colonic microbes actually ingest large amounts of carbohydrates, then produce substances that go allow better digestion of food. Fiber is so important in the digestive process that a lack of it can cause obesity, colon cancer and digestive disorders.

Zack Holmes, a former Ph.D. student at the David lab, was one of the key players in the discovery. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, Office of Naval Research, NASA and the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation.

Carbohydrate is essential for the microbial population of the intestines

A diet rich in fiber allows bacteria in the colon to make butyrate (fatty acid serving as an energy source for the intestinal cells). This substance improves the health of the intestine, limits inflammation and makes healthier intestinal cells.

To find out the difference between the effects of different types of carbohydrates, subjects were tested with three main types of fermentable fiber supplements: inulin, dextrin (Benefiber) and galactooligosaccharides (GOS). The results reveal that fibers are interchangeableand therefore, preferring one over the other would not make too much of a difference.

“The human organism has adapted to use the nutrients produced by the intestinal microbes.”

Zack Holmes, former Ph.D. student at the David laboratory

Even any dose during the day is more than enough

Parallel research has also shown the rapid effect of fibers on the microbial population prevailing in the small intestine. Researchers have noticed that adding fiber significantly alters the insect populations present in the gut and changes the gene they use to digest food.

The consumption of a low dose of carbohydrate first primes the microbes, to prepare them for their activities and then helps them to break down nutrients faster. Scientists have therefore concluded that huge doses of fiber are not needed to compensate for a probable deficiency. Simple foods rich in fiber are more than enough.

“When you’re low on fiber, all you need is a low dose of carbs to temporarily increase your bacterial population. »

Duke University graduate student Jeffrey Letourneau


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