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Fiber: Don't underestimate it!

Fiber is sadly synonymous with unappealing words such as roughage, and bulk.  And, yes, fiber often conjures up the image of an unappetizing bran muffin, or a glass of powdery psyllium, mixed with water, which needs to be chugged ASAP before it turns into a gross goopy paste!

But fiber does SO much more…

Most people believe fiber only has one key benefit, but it doesn’t, it has many benefits beyond gastrointestinal health, it’s also crucial for…

  • Blood sugar regulation: fiber slows your body’s ability to convert the foods you’re eating to sugar
  • Improving your cholesterol profile: fiber facilitates elimination of LDL cholesterol
  • Weight management: fiber-rich foods help us feel fuller for longer
    AND even
  • Lowering Inflammation: dietary fiber feeds your microbiome which in-turn produces anti-inflammatory compounds   
    Keep reading to see how below...

Fiber is truly the unsung hero in the world of nutrition!

Fiber’s vital importance is aptly summed up in Denis Parsons Burkitt’s quote: 

“Societies that eat unrefined foods produce large stools and build small hospitals; societies that eat fiber-depleted foods produce small stools and build large hospitals.

Back in the ‘70s, Burkitt was known as “The Fiber Man” (1) - he traveled the world talking about the importance of dietary fiber in the prevention of non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease (e.g., cholesterol, hypertension), diabetes, obesity and gastrointestinal diseases (2).  

How could fiber help lower inflammation?

You’ve likely heard about the microbiome—the collective name for approximately 4 pounds of bacteria residing in gastrointestinal tract. The microbiome is made up of microbiota; an assemblage of living microorganisms in a defined environment, in this case, mainly in your large intestine.

The microbiota are alive (in your gut), and therefore, they need to eat. They feed on the fiber in the food you eat, and they produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) as a by-product of their digestion.

It’s a little akin to one of many brilliantly orchestrated natural cycles in our world. For example, think about how cows fertilize our soil…
- Cows eat grass => cow manure fertilizes the soil  => healthier grass and other crops grow
- Our microbiota eat fiber in our food => microbiota produce SCFAs => SCFAs fuel intestinal cells 
There are a host of different types of SCFAs (details of which are beyond the scope of this newsletter!), but suffice it to say SCFAs are associated with decreased inflammation (3) (4) (5) (6)

So, I urge you to stop thinking about fiber as something that’s simply eliminated in stool, and instead start appreciating fiber as an essential part of our armamentarium for blood sugar regulation, improving cholesterol profile, managing weight, AND as a vital food for our microbiota—which your microbiome then uses to help lower inflammation and improve your overall health.

Fiber really is the consummate preventative medicine.

Many people don't get enough fiber…

A paltry 10-15 grams of fiber per day tends to be the average intake, which is significantly less than the recommended 35-40 grams per day!
Take a look at 
this fiber handout to see what foods you can include more frequently to help reach this target.

The next time you reach for a snack, choose one of these high fiber snack suggestions so you can continue to optimize all your B.I.G. stuff (Blood sugar regulation, Inflammation status, Gastrointestinal Health)