FIBRE - the macronutrient no one talks about
We’re going to talk about a nutrient that wields miraculous powers over your health. We are talking about a humble helper that supports your health in several ways; this includes lowering your cholesterol and blood pressure and reducing inflammation - FIBRE. As you might already know we eat too much fat, too much sugar, and too much protein... But only get half of the fibre we need every day.
Fibre is mainly found in plants, and plants are exactly what we are eating too little of: vegetables and fruit, seeds, pulses and nuts. The foods we are often tempted by are highly processed and sugary. Whilst they are rich in taste and indulgence, they are poor in Fibre.
Why this is important?
Fibre is one of the most critical ingredients in our diet. It is directly or indirectly involved in a broad range of physiological functions, from immunological function and hormone regulation, to appetite and metabolic regulation, to organ-specific energy production. It therefore does not come as a surprise that eating fibre is correlated with lower cancer risk, improved cardiovascular health, type-2 diabetes prevention, and weight management.
The key facts
Humans have evolved a symbiotic relationship with some of the most pervasive creatures on earth, bacteria. For those of us who are healthy, there are some 100 trillion bacteria living in our intestines: that is 10 times as many as there are cells in our body, and bacteria love fibre.
Fibre comes from plants and while we can’t digest it to use for energy, the bacteria love to.
Fibre includes various processed and unprocessed starches, plant cell wall materials such as cellulose and lignin, and a large array of complex carbohydrates.
On its journey through our digestive system fibre delivers a host of benefits.
Stomach: Fibre swells with water in our stomachs, increasing our sense of being full, extending our sense of not needing to eat; and preliminary evidence indicates that fibre may protect us against certain ulcer formations.
Small intestine: Here fibre acts as a sponge for a variety of compounds, including sugars, fats, and bile salts. This sponge effect slows down and reduces the absorption of sugars, reducing insulin response and type-2 diabetes susceptibility. Fibre viscosity also impedes the body’s absorption of fat both chemically and physically and, by binding to the bile salts, fibre also interrupts the body’s recycling of cholesterol precursors, reduces blood cholesterol levels, and correlates with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Large intestine: Time to feed the 100 trillion bacteria. These bacteria metabolize the fibre and create a wide range of effects, only some of which are known. Some of the by-products are Short Chain Fatty Acids that also provide the direct energy source for our outer Intestinal lining (the lumina), which in turn is instrumental in immunological and appetite hormone regulation. Mounting evidence suggests that the resulting regular short-term elevations of appetite hormones have a systemic impact on weight management by for example improving glucose control, reducing fat synthesis, enhancing fat oxidation, and reducing body fat. Adequate intake of fibre is also associated with regularity of bowel movement and reduction of precancerous colon polyps which may be related to reduced protein digestion in the large intestine and related release and absorption of carcinogenic by-products and subsequent anti-inflammatory response.
The United States FDA* recommends an intake of 38/25g per day for men/women of both dietary fibre (intact plant) and added fibre (isolated carbohydrates having beneficial human physiological effects).
Frill is designed with loads of fibre from different sources that will feed the many families of healthy bacteria. Typically, fibre from different origins (fruit and vegetable, beans, or grains) have different benefits.
Nondigestible Carbohydrates and Digestive Health; Editors Tery M Paeschke, William R. Aimutis, Wiley-Blackwell, 2011;
Science, Vol. 336, 8 June 2012;
*Dietary Reference Intakes Proposed Definition of Dietary Fiber, Panel on the Definition of Dietary Fiber and the Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes, Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academy Press, 2001;
Dietary Fiber, Vegetables, and Colon Cancer, Trock etal, J. Natl Cancer Inst 82: 650-661;
Intake of Fat, Meat, and Fiber in Relation to Risk of Colon Cancer in Men, Cancer Res 54: 2390-2397;
Randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study of effect of wheat bran fiber and calcium on fecal bile acids in patients with resected denomatous colon polyps, J Natl Cancer Inst 88: 81-92;
Long-term intake of dietary fiber and decreased risk of coronary heart disease among women, J Am Med Assoc 281: 1998-2004;
Cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary fiber: A meta-analysis Am J Clin Nutr 69: 30-42; Dietary fiber, inulin, and oligofructose: A review comparing their physiological effects Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 33: 103-148;
Prospective study of diet and the risk of duodenal ulcer in men Am J Epidemiol 145: 42-50
Sex, Body Mass Index, and Dietary Fiber Intake Influence the Human Gut Microbiome, Dominianni et al.; PLOS, April 15, 2015