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Fiber Fiber Fiber

Fiber Fiber Fiber

If you take away one thing, just eat more. 

Fiber is a powerful nutrient.  It plays an important role in many conditions including obesity, cardiovascular disease, digestive disorders and colon health.  Scores of studies show that fiber helps improve cholesterol, while reducing risk for heart disease.  It also has natural anti-inflammatory properties which can be attributed to gut bacteria that literally eat fiber that we ingest as part of the diet.  The result is short-chain fatty acid production (SCFA), particularly butyrate which has been shown to lower inflammation, improve overall gut health and support a stronger gut lining in the intestine. 

But what about supplements, do they have the same effect?  One recent study from Duke University investigated fiber a bit further to determine if one type of fiber supplement was better than another, and they came to learn something very interesting.  It doesn’t really matter which kind of fiber you choose. 

Researchers tested three different types of soluble fiber:  inulin, dextrin (Benefiber) and galactooligosaccharides (GOS) with 28 participants.  Participants took each of the three supplements for 1 week and stool samples and side effects were evaluated.  They found an inverse relationship, meaning that participants who ate the least amount of fiber from their diet, experienced the greatest benefit from the supplements while those who consumed more dietary fiber showed less improvement in their microbiomes.  The other interesting finding is that those who saw benefit from the supplement, saw similar benefits regardless of which one was taken.  Those with a naturally higher fiber diet likely saw less change because they already had a more optimal level.    

The good news is that you don’t need to take a supplement to get the benefits.  Simply eat more fiber-rich foods such as beans, leafy greens or citrus!    Just another reason why eating more plants is a good move for your heath! 

Food Sources of Dietary Fiber

Popcorn                                    3 cups  5.8g

Oat bran                                   ½ cup   2.9g

White beans, cooked                 ½ cup   9.3g

Brussels sprouts, cooked           1 cup    6.4g

Broccoli, cooked                        1 cup    5.2g

Avocado                                   ½ cup   5g

Plantains, cooked                      1 cup    3.1g


Most foods rich in fiber offer a combination of both soluble and insoluble fiber.  Men and women should aim for 35 and 25g a day respectively. 

Soluble fiber (also known as beta-glucan) lowers cholesterol and increases the feeling of fullness.  Top sources include fruit, oats, wild rice, quinoa and other whole grains. 

Insoluble fiber helps keep blood cholesterol in check and prevents plaque buildup on artery walls.  Top insoluble fiber sources include all kinds of beans, peas, lentils, and artichokes. 

Published March 1, 2023

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