dietary fiber

Fibers:

  • Decrease cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Delay emptying of stomach into intestines resulting in reduced after-meal blood sugar levels and increased feelings of satiety
  • Increase pancreatic secretion and make bile soluble
  • Increase stool weight and decrease intestinal transit time, allowing decreased exposure of intestinal cells to cancer causing compounds
  • Increase beneficial intestinal microflora
  • Fermentation of fiber in colon produces SCFAs (Short Chain Fatty Acids) notably Proprionic  acid and Butyric acid
  • Proprionic and Acetic acid are transported to liver for energy production and Proprionic Acid inhibits production of cholesterol in liver

        i. Butyric acid is the preferred energy source of colon cells, and has anti-cancer and anti-ulcer activity

      ii. Pectins (apple and citrus) guar gum and legume fibers produce more SCFAs than beet, corn or oat fiber. FructoOligoSaccharides (Inulin in Jerusalem artichoke, leeks, onions, asparagus) are potent SCFA producers.

Water Soluble fibers:

Hemicelluloses: in plant cell walls. Examples: Oat bran and guar gum.

  • Oat bran: contains hemicelluloses that promote regular bowel movement by increasing hydration of stool, and are digested by gut bacteria, increasing the number of beneficial bacteria and creating Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs) used by colon cells for fuel. Also binds cholesterol in gut, preventing its absorption

Mucilages: found in endosperm of plant seeds. Examples: Guar Gum and Psyllium

  • Guar gum and Psyllium seed husk: have the most potent cholesterol lowering agents, they chelate out heavy metals, and they reduce fasting and after meal glucose and insulin levels as well as decreasing body weight and hunger ratings

Pectins: found in plant cell walls and outer skin and rind of fruits and vegetables, especially apple, orange and onion. Has gel forming properties that have cholesterol lowering effects. Also chelate out heavy metals

Lignans: Best dietary sources are seeds (especially flaxseed), whole grains and legumes (beans). Anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral; bind to estrogen receptors and interfere with cancer promoting effects of estrogen on breast tissue, and promote Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin (SHBG) a protein that regulates estrogen and escorts excess estrogen from body

FructoOligoSaccharides (FOS): eg Inulin in Jerusalem artichoke, burdock, chicory, dandelion root, leeks, onions, asparagus; and GalactoOligoSaccharides (GOS) in soybeans

  • Food for friendly bacteria in colon: increase number of friendly bacteria and reduce numbers of harmful bacteria
  • Increase production of fatty acids such as butyrate
  • Increase absorption of calcium and magnesium
  • Improve elimination of toxic compounds
  • Lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels

Adapted from:

Murray, M. (2005). Encyclopedia of Healing Food. New York, N.Y.: Atria Books

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