Following on from my previous post about the importance of fibre for constipation, I thought it appropriate to talk about the lesser-known benefits of FIBRE in relation to gastrointestinal health.
INSOLUBLE VS SOLUBLE FIBRE
Fibre can be classified as either soluble or insoluble. INSOLUBLE fibre is especially helpful in relieving constipation and for stool regularity. Because it does not absorb water, it provides bulk to the stool, accelerates transit time through the gut, and stimulates peristalsis, all of which contribute to increased stool frequency.
The most common food sources of insoluble fibre are whole grains (e.g. bran) and vegetables.
SOLUBLE fibre, as the name suggests, dissolves in water and forms a gel. It slows the passage of food through the digestive tract, allowing time for proper digestion. It is this type of fibre that ferments in the colon and produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) as end products.
SCFAs have multiple potential functions and health benefits including:
• Immune system enhancement • Improvement in liver function * inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria * Enhancing the absorption of minerals such as calcium * Appetite control by altering metabolism • Reduction in the risk of irritable bowel syndrome • Reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease • Reduction in the risk of some cancers • Reduction in the risk of diabetes
WHAT ARE PREBIOTICS?
Beneficial bacteria in the gut need a food source to grow and multiply. PREBIOTICS, in the form of SOLUBLE FIBRE, provide the nourishment for these bacteria. During fermentation, the gut bacteria act on the soluble fibre to produce the SCFAs.
The most beneficial sources of PREBIOTICS are found in the following foods. • Resistant starch from oats, barley, brown rice, beans, lentils, green bananas, cooked and cooled potatoes, pasta and rice • Pectin from apples, apricots, blackberries, and citrus fruit • Fructo-oligosaccharides and inulin from Jerusalem artichoke, onion, leek, garlic, rye and asparagus