Contrary to what was once thought, dietary fibers are not “ballast” but little miracle workers for the human body. They are said to have a preventive effect against constipation and gallstones, and many other positive properties – yet we consume too little of them on average.
The German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommends consuming at least 30 grams of dietary fiber per day. This is equivalent to about 3 slices of whole grain bread or 100 grams of legumes. On average, however, we only get 15-25 grams – about 10 grams too little. Gastrointestinal and/or metabolic disorders are just two of the consequences that can accompany a deficiency.
In principle, a distinction is made between insoluble and soluble dietary fibers.
Insoluble and soluble dietary fibers – what do they have in common?
Dietary fiber is a plant-based component of food that cannot be digested by the body. They are not found in animal food. Although they cannot be used by the body for energy production, they have many other positive effects on our body.
Dietary fiber swells and fills the stomach more quickly, thus supporting the timely onset of the feeling of satiety. At the same time, the stomach is emptied more slowly and this in turn supports the intestines, as they can work in smaller portions.
They are the unassuming heroes that promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria and also slow the rise in blood sugar after meals. This is because the sugar dissolves more slowly from a food with fiber, so the sugar molecules do not enter the blood quite as quickly and the blood sugar level does not rise too steeply after the meal.
Dietary fiber binds undesirable substances as well as bile acids – thus lowering cholesterol levels. How exactly does that work? Dietary fiber binds bile acids in the stool, which are thereby excreted. A high-fiber diet thus contributes to a reduced risk of gallstones.
But they have even more superpowers: gastrointestinal diseases, metabolic diseases as well as cardiovascular diseases are prevented. They also reduce the risk of obesity, type II diabetes mellitus and colorectal cancer. Great, isn’t it?
Now for the specifics of the two:
Soluble dietary fiber
SOLUBLE BALLASTS bind a lot of water and form a thick liquid, a kind of gel, which removes “bad” cholesterol and excess blood sugar from the body. They serve as food for the intestinal bacteria and ensure a healthy intestinal flora.
A study from the Netherlands shows water-soluble fiber appears to have a positive effect on irritable bowel patients – lots of fiber in the diet can provide symptom relief. The test persons were regularly administered psyllium and after 12 weeks the complaints had already been drastically reduced.
In addition, soluble fiber swells in the stomach and provides a better as well as long-lasting feeling of satiety – perfect for the slim line. You can find them mainly in fruits, vegetables and legumes.
In addition, soluble fiber plays an important role in metabolism. They can help lower blood lipid levels.
by the way, contains 7 g of soluble fiber, which will support you and your body and compensate for any deficiency.
Small note: At first, you may experience bloating when eating soluble fiber because your body and intestines are not used to it, but – don’t worry – this will pass with time. Moreover, a study made with our dietary fibers proves that they are particularly well tolerated compared to other dietary fibers.
UNDISSOLVED BALLASTS, as the name suggests, do not dissolve, bind little water and are hardly broken down by the intestinal bacteria. On the other hand, they have a digestive effect, because they stimulate intestinal activity and help us eliminate waste products more quickly and relieve constipation. These are mainly found in leafy vegetables, legumes and cereal products.
You’ll find little fiber in:
White bread, bread rolls, toast, croissant, cornflakes, cakes, pies, cookies, pasta, white rice, pudding, ice cream and cream dishes.
You’ll find lots of fiber in:
Wholemeal bread, graham bread, flaxseed bread, oatmeal, wholemeal pasta, millet, brown rice, fruit – and of course
Extra tip: Drink plenty of fluids!
In order for the dietary fibers to develop their full effect, sufficient fluid intake is necessary. At least 1.5 to 2 liters of water or other unsweetened beverages should be drunk daily.
German Institute of Human Nutrition: Fatty acids in the blood provide information on the level of fiber consumption(http://www.dife.de/presse/pressemitteilungen/?id=1388) As of: 23.08.2018
Gut microbiota: special diet against type 1 diabetes(https://www.pharmazeutische-zeitung.de/index.php?id=69146) As of: 23.08.2018
More fiber please!: Fiber intake can easily be increased in everyday life(https://www.dge.de/presse/pm/mehr-ballaststoffe-bitte/) As of: 23.08.2018
Evidence-based guideline: carbohydrate intake and prevention of selected diet-related diseases(https://www.dge.de/wissenschaft/leitlinien/leitlinie-kohlenhydrate/) As of 08/23/2018.
Salmeron et al, JAMA 277:472 (1997); Diabetes Care 20: 547 (1997); Mayer et al Am J Clin Nutr 71: 921 (2000).
Brown et al. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69:30-42
Aune et al, BMJ 2011 Nov 10;343:d6617.
Canfora et al, Nat. Rev. Endocrinol. doi:10.1038/nrendo.2015.128
Whole Grains and Fiber(http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/HealthyDietGoals/Whole-Grains-and-Fiber_UCM_303249_Article.jsp#.W36eXOgzaUl) As of: 08/23/2018
Eat and drink whole foods according to the 10 rules of the DGE(https://www.dge.de/ernaehrungspraxis/vollwertige-ernaehrung/10-regeln-der-dge/) As of: 23.08.2018
Bijkerk CJ et al. Soluble or insoluble fiber in irritable bowel syndrome in primary care? Randomised placebo controlled trial. BMJ 2009; 339:b3154 doi:10.1136/bmj.b3154
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