Fermentable fiber foods and supplements play an essential role in maintaining not only the health of the lower gut but also overall wellness. Here is what you need to know about fermentable fiber, what foods contain fermentable fibers and how you can tell if you need to increase your intake of healthy dietary fibers.
What Is Fermentable Fiber?
In the past, medical scientists and nutrition experts divided dietary fiber into two distinct categories: soluble and insoluble. Today, however, increasing numbers of researchers are beginning to see those categories as inaccurate because studies suggest both insoluble and soluble fibers undergo fermentation in the large intestine. Fermentation is important because it’s the gases and acids produced during the process that result in significant health benefits.
What does this discovery mean? For years, health experts have known that soluble dietary fibers provide important and diverse wellness benefits. Now, it appears certain soluble fibers — such as inulin and oligofructose — also provide these same health benefits because they also ferment in the large intestine. Quite simply, people who make fiber an important part of their diet help their bodies operate and heal more efficiently than those who don’t. The benefits of soluble and insoluble fermentable fibers include:
- The stimulation of good bacteria production in the colon
- The stabilization of blood glucose, which helps people avoid developing diabetes
- The suppression of “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, which helps people avoid hardening of the arteries and heart disease
- The increase of lower gut acid levels, which protects against cancerous polyp formations and helps the body absorb essential minerals such as iron, calcium and magnesium
- The inhibition of inflammation by improving the protective layer in the lower gut
- The stimulation of the immune system by boosting production of helper cells and other antibodies
- The reduction in the number of dangerous conditions associated with an unhealthy diet, including obesity and a diverse array of gastrointestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
How to Make Fermentable Fiber a Part of Your Diet
Multiple independent studies demonstrate that adding foods containing the plant fibers inulin and oligofructose have a beneficial effect on the proliferation of good bacteria in the lower gut. The good news is that making fermentable fiber a regular part of your healthy lifestyle couldn’t be simpler. In the grocery store, you can find fermentable fiber in foods such as chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, yams, dandelion greens, leeks, onion, garlic, wheat and bananas. The key to success, however, lies in the daily intake — and most people, unfortunately, don’t eat nearly enough fermentable fiber to make serious health improvements.
If eating 15 grams or more of chicory root, onion and other foods doesn’t sound appealing, adding a prebiotic supplement such as Prebiotin to your diet can help you get your daily fiber goal without difficulty — and without adding a ton of unnecessary calories.