The benefits of fiber and how it works inside the body

In this series about understanding carbohydrates, we have been focusing on what happens in our digestive systems as we eat various types of carbohydrates. Paleo blueberry banana bread We will continue this theme when it comes to fiber. Mini banana bread recipe Most fiber is, like other carbohydrates, made up of many glucose molecules. Vegan banana bread applesauce However, fiber does not break down into glucose before it gets to the colon, and often not even there.

Gluten free banana bread recipe Even so, fiber does have effects on our digestion all along the way and has other benefits to our bodies.

In the stomach, fiber is bulky, so it tends to make us feel full. Dairy free banana bread recipe However, insoluble fiber moves out of the stomach fast unless there is fat, protein, or soluble fiber to slow it down. Best vegan banana bread ? Soluble fiber, especially the viscous types that hold onto water, will slow down stomach emptying, especially when eaten with lots of fluid and some fat. Simple vegan banana bread This is at least partly why soluble fiber tends to decrease the glycemic effect of a meal – the contents of the stomach more gradually enter the small intestine, and from there, the blood. How to freeze banana bread The Small Intestine:

In the small intestine, it’s a similar situation – the presence of insoluble fiber tends to speed “transit time” up, and the gel-like soluble fiber slows things down. How to store banana bread The Colon:

As we have seen in the other parts of this series, in the colon there is a whole other digestive world happening with the (mostly friendly) bacteria in the colon.

It’s common to think of the colon as a place where water is removed from whatever is left from digesting the food, and the rest is moved along towards the toilet. Banana cake recipe nz But there is actually a whole world in our guts, occupied by ten times the bacteria as the numbers of all of our human cells (this includes all bacteria from the mouth to the anus).

We literally could not stay alive if it wasn’t for the wonderful friendly bacteria in our digestive systems, where battles are fought, helpful substances are manufactured, and the immune system is bolstered. Banana bread with olive oil Did you know that in “Colon World”:

• Vitamins are constructed (particularly Vitamin K and some B vitamins)

• Friendly bacteria crowd out the ones that cause disease, such as Salmonella

• Friendly bacteria lower the levels of some toxins, such as ammonia

• Special fats, called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), are manufactured, most of which are absorbed into the bloodstream, but some are used to feed the cells of the colon.

• The health of colon cells, which turn over rapidly, is for the most part dependent upon the bacteria of “Colon World,” which in turn is dependent upon the food we give these bacteria.

It is the short-chain fatty acids which are getting the most attention recently. Dairy free banana cake recipe It is difficult to get these in our food, so the body relies on the process going on in “Colon World” to make these fats for us.

Evidence is building that they are important in keeping the cells of the colon healthy and preventing such conditions as ulcerative colitis, colon cancer, and diverticular disease. South african banana bread recipe They may also help regulate cholesterol and even, to some extent, insulin responses. Quick banana cake recipe What Types of Fiber Feed the Colon?

The fiber types that are most amenable to fermentation are the soluble ones – gums, pectins, etc, found in such foods as berries, beans, flax seeds, plums, apples, and oats, and in some fiber supplements, such as those using psyllium and guar gum. Moist banana walnut bread Oligosaccharides and resistant starch also provide fodder for the bacteria. Allrecipes com banana bread Different “bacteria food” produces different kinds of SCFAs and other products, so it’s important to get a variety of fibers in our foods.

Insoluble fiber (found in such foods as vegetables, the bran of grains e.g. Banana bread with peanut butter wheat bran, nuts, and seeds) isn’t available for much fermentation, but it is still important in the colon. Banana nut loaf recipe Not only does it provide bulk in the stool, its tendency to “speed things along” means that the fermentation will take place all along the length of the colon, including the near the end, where the majority of colon cancer occurs. Banana bread no butter Without insoluble fiber, most of the fermentation would take place in the top part of the colon, so the colon cells there would get most of the benefit. Fluffy banana bread recipe What Are the Other Benefits of Dietary Fiber?

Besides reducing the glycemic effect of meals and contributing to colon health, there is evidence that fiber may benefit us in other ways. Banana muffins with buttermilk It seems to help lower cholesterol and triglycerides, and also may help to prevent:

• Ulcers, particularly in the beginning of the small intestine (duodenal ulcers)

Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (Macronutrients) (2005), Food and Nutrition Board, National Academy of Sciences.

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