We know that dietary fiber is good for our health. Among others, it nourishes our healthy gut bacteria, lowers ‘bad’ cholesterol, maintains a good bowel health and reduces risk of certain cancers. The question is: are all different types of fiber equally good for our health?

A recent small study investigated this question. Researchers had a closer look at the 2 common and structurally distinct soluble fibers: arabinoxylan (common in whole grains), and long-chain inulin (found in onions, chicory root, and Jerusalem artichokes). To find out the health benefits from these fibers, they asked 18 participants to use dietary supplements that were equal to 10 grams of fiber per day during the 1st week, 20 grams per day during the 2nd week, and 30 grams per day during the 3rd week.

The results showed that the benefits of fiber were dependent on fiber type, dose, and the individual interactions between fiber, the gut microbiome of the participant. There were also some general conclusions.

So, eating arabinoxylan was linked to a significant reduction in ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL), and an increase in bile acids, which might also lead to the cholesterol reduction. Yet individual responses varied, and some participants had little to no change in cholesterol levels.

On the other hand, long-chain inulin was related to a modest decrease in inflammation and an increase in the Bifidobacterium, which produce healthy short-chain fatty acids. That’s a good news, isn’t it? But here you need to be careful. The study showed that at the highest dose, long-chain inulin turned to increase inflammation and levels of a liver enzyme called alanine aminotransferase, an indicator of liver damage. This means that too much of this fiber might harm your health. Again, these results were not the same for all participants.

Although this study is small, it highlights the need for an individualized approach to be able to benefit from your diet, in general, and the fibers you eat, in particular.

Curious? HERE is the source

Tatsiana Haponava, PhD

a certified nutrition coach, educator and researcher with a PhD degree

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