Fibre and Metabolic Health: A Connection
October 12, 2022
October 12, 2022
Along with fat and protein, fibre is a macronutrient that belongs to the carbohydrate family. A non-digestible carbohydrate called dietary fibre is present in food. A unique combination of bioactive substances, including resistant starches, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants, can be found in dietary fibre and whole grains.
Fibre largely bypasses our digestive system, causing blood sugar levels to rise less quickly than other carbs. In addition, short-chain fatty acid synthesis by the microbiota is encouraged by the presence of fibre, which can enhance metabolic health. Finally, since fibre slows down how quickly food is absorbed in the gut, fibre also seems to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
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Fibre has several health benefits, depending on the specific type. Intake of the recommended level of dietary fibre provides various benefits in metabolic and overall health. For example, it improves blood glucose levels, lowers the risk of developing cancers and chronic health conditions, and aids in sustainable weight loss.
Based on its solubility in water, it has two major categories:
It dissolves in water and can undergo a metabolic process to feed the “good” bacteria in the gut. When soluble fibre dissolves in water, it transforms into a thick, gel-like substance that is highly fermentable (the process where gut microbes break down fibre). Hence, consuming soluble fibre promotes the maintenance of healthy fibre-digesting organisms in the gut microbiome.
Bulky insoluble fibre, which is less fermentable and doesn’t dissolve in water, aids in the transit of food through the gastrointestinal tract. It has been associated with decreased insulin resistance when consumed in large amounts.
Both forms of fibres operate in tandem to regulate how your body consumes glucose. As a result, you stay satisfied for longer after consumption, which reduces your additional calorie intake.
Based on these types, soluble and insoluble fibre can be classified into dietary or functional categories:
Dietary fibre is naturally present in whole food sources, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. The dietary fibre category comprises the types: soluble, insoluble, fermentable, and non-fermentable.
It is either synthetically produced or derived from whole food sources like starches or other sugar components. Functional fibre is initially isolated from the sources and then added to certain foods to produce in the form of supplements.
The ideal fibre intake varies depending on a person’s gender, age, and life stage, like pregnancy etc.
Recommended daily fibre intake for adults :
Recommended daily fibre intake for children
Many bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and viruses that make up the gut microbiome also require fibre. To maintain a diverse gut microbiome, you should consume a diet high in fibre. It is the main factor in determining the importance of (specific) dietary fibre for health. By acting as prebiotics, they nourish the “good” bacteria in the colon.
Fibre plays a vital role in immunity. Research suggests that fibre is a good source of good bacteria in the gut. Therefore, it helps destroy harmful bacteria and provides good bacteria nutrients.
The beneficial bacteria create crucial short-chain fatty acids like butyrate and acetate for the body. These short-chain fatty acids help nourish colonic cells, reducing gut inflammation and improving conditions like ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and Crohn’s disease. In addition, consuming fibre-rich foods impacts insulin sensitivity and glucose absorption.
Fibre helps improve bowel movements as the fibre absorbs water in the intestines and softens the stool. Thus, resulting in a smooth pass out of the stool.
Research suggests that dietary fibre intake increases stool frequency in patients with constipation.
Besides maintaining the gut’s mucus layer, a physical barrier to keep infections out, fibre also helps reduce inflammation. The immune system launches an inflammatory reaction if the mucus layer is damaged, and germs can penetrate it. These pathogens may be invasive microbes or those that already reside in the gut. Butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid, has anti-inflammatory characteristics that promote mucosal immunity and intestinal barrier health.
Fibre controls inflammation by nourishing gut bacteria. Most prebiotics, which provides food for the bacteria already present in your gut, fall under the dietary fibre category (probiotics, in contrast, add new ones). Prebiotics supports the balance of gut microbes that are both
Dysbiosis, a condition where some gut microbes thrive while others fail, is caused by imbalances in the gut microbiota. It is directly associated with metabolic abnormalities, gut inflammation, and diseases like obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, and malnutrition.
Studies suggest that long-term dietary fibre intake can reduce the risk of inflammatory bowel disease. The data was collected from 170,776 women and followed up over 26 years.
Dietary fibre can regulate calorie intake, thus enhancing weight loss or maintaining healthier body weight. In addition, studies show that increasing dietary fibre intake improves satiety.
As per research, the consumption of whole grains and a variety of regularly consumed whole-grain foods, such as whole-grain morning cereal, oatmeal, dark bread, brown rice, and added bran, has a direct linkage with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. In addition, the fibre in the whole grain slows down the breakdown of starch into glucose, leading to steady blood sugar levels. Therefore, dietary fibre can help prevent type-II diabetes.
The presence of fibre in the digestive system can lessen the body’s absorption of cholesterol. Therefore, it is particularly accurate if you use psyllium fibre supplements and statins, drugs to decrease cholesterol.
High-fibre foods may take longer for your body to process. Also, this makes it easier to maintain more stable blood sugar levels, which benefits those with diabetes.
Consuming sufficient fibre can help prevent some cancers, including colon cancer. There are numerous explanations for this, one of which is the possibility that particular forms of fibre, like the pectin in apples, may have antioxidant-like qualities.
Popular and wholesome, pears are a fruit that many people enjoy and regard as one of the top fruits for fibre. USDA states 3.1 grams of fibre per 100 grams or 5.5 grams in a medium-sized, raw pear.
Nutrients such as vitamin C, B6, and potassium are abundant in bananas. In addition, a large proportion of resistant starch, an indigestible carbohydrate that behaves like fibre, is also present in green or unripe bananas. You can also use them to add protein to a sandwich with nut butter. As per USDA, a medium-sized banana contains 3.1 grams of fibre or 2.6 grams per 100 grams.
Carrots are one the root vegetables that are delicious and loaded with rich nutrients. It contains significant amounts of vitamin K, B6, magnesium, and beta carotene, an antioxidant that your body converts to vitamin A. As per USDA, 3.6 grams of fibre in 1 cup of raw carrots, or 2.8 grams per 100 grams.
Beetroot, often known as beets, are root vegetables rich in vital minerals, including folate, iron, copper, manganese, and potassium. Additionally, beets are rich in inorganic nitrates, which are advantageous for controlling blood pressure and enhancing athletic performance.
As per USDA, 3.8 grams of fibre is present per cup of raw beets, or 2.8 grams per 100 grams.
A cruciferous vegetable, broccoli is one of the foods with the highest nutrient density. It contains antioxidants, powerful cancer-fighting minerals, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, B vitamins, potassium, iron, and manganese. Compared to most vegetables, broccoli also has a higher protein content.
As per USDA, 2.4 grams of fibre is present per cup, or 2.6 grams per 100 grams.
One common variety of tree nuts is almonds. They include a lot of nutrients, such as good fats, vitamin E, manganese, and magnesium. In addition, almonds, in the form of almond flour, are perfect for baking and will make your desserts healthy.
As per USDA, almonds have 4 grams of fibre per 3 tablespoons or 13.3 grams per 100 grams.
Among all the fruits you may eat, apples are one of the most delicious and gratifying. Additionally, they contain a good amount of fibre. Apples are rich in fibre, vitamin C, and many antioxidants. Considering how few calories they have, they are also incredibly filling. As per USDA, 4.4 grams of fibre in a medium-sized raw apple, or 2.4 grams per 100 grams.
Chia seeds are one of the primary sources of fibre across the world. They are tiny black seeds that are nutrient-dense due to their high calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium content. Therefore, they are extremely popular among the health conscious.
USDA states 9.75 grams of fibre per ounce of dried chia seeds or 34.4 grams per 100 grams.
The popular sweet potato is a tuber with a deliciously sweet flavour that is immensely satisfying. Beta-carotene, B vitamins, and other minerals are extremely high.
As per USDA, a medium-sized boiled sweet potato (without skin) has 3.8 grams of fibre or 2.5 grams per 100 grams.
One common variety of legumes is the kidney bean. They are a rich source of fibre, plant-based protein, and other nutrients, just like other legumes.
USDA states 12.2 grams of fibre per cup of cooked beans or 6.8 per 100 grams.
Dietary Fibre holds an undeniable role in a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet. Several studies have reinforced the positive influence of fibre on health, from its functional capabilities as a prebiotic to a metabolic manager. However, if you plan to add more fibre to your diet, take it slow so that you don’t experience any side effects or intestinal discomfort.
Even though dietary fibre is crucial for metabolic fitness, consuming
Too much fibre might result in potential health threats. The symptoms include,
The symptoms of overeating fibre can be reduced by:
Adding dietary fibre to your diet is one of the effective ways to improve your overall metabolic health, considering its myriad health benefits. For example, fermentable fibre provides food for the gut bacteria and converts to short-chain fatty acids, which are ideal for your colon wall. Viscous, soluble fibre may also lessen hunger, lower cholesterol, and reduce blood sugar spikes following high-carb meals.
Try to consume whole fruits, veggies, and grains high in a range of fibre if you want to lead a healthy lifestyle and ensure the right proportion of fibre. However, it will help if you exercise caution. Avoid making any abrupt, significant adjustments to your fibre consumption.
Knowing how much and what type of dietary fibre will control glucose metabolism in people with diabetes, pre-diabetes, and other risk conditions is essential. Nonetheless, incorporating dietary fibre into your daily diet will likely bring about positive metabolic changes in the body over time. In addition, it will add more flavour and variety to your plate.