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The Hidden Side of Fiber, Fiber Tips for Sensitive Digestive Systems
Time has changed our diet a lot. Today, many among us are too often inclined to eat prepared or factory-made meals, often rich in salt and fat and poor in essential nutrients. It is our digestive system that is affected first. Diseases associated with the gastrointestinal system are becoming more common, but simple daily habits can make a difference.
A daily fiber intake is a good start. We already know fiber’s positive impact on bowel regulation, satiety, nutrient assimilation and cholesterol level reduction. But, did you know fibers are also important for supplying energy to our intestinal cells and they can increase the implantation of good bacteria and decrease the recurrence of certain chronic diseases?
It is now well established that fibers reach the large intestine almost intact, and are then used by bacteria in the colon. They are excellent nutrients (prebiotics) for the intestinal flora. At the same time, they increase the installation of good bacteria in our intestine. Their use by the intestinal flora is also linked to a decrease in the repercussions of many chronic diseases.
Their degradation produces short chain fatty acids (like butyrate and propionate) which are quickly absorbed by the mucous membrane. Since butyrate alone provides 70% of the colon cells' energetic needs, facilitating the increase of good bacteria in our bowels by adding fibers as prebiotics is a good idea.
All Fibers are not Equal
For a long time, an increased consumption of insoluble fibers, like wheat bran or whole wheat, was recommended for people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. And yet, insoluble fibers are irritating and can aggravate diarrhea. Too many insoluble fibers can even worsen loose stool symptoms.
Soluble fibers are more bearable because they are gentle on the intestine; they transform into a sort of gel, which is less stimulating for the digestive tract, but guarantees regular bowel movement. Oat, legumes, prunes and acacia gum are rich in these fibers. To be noted: psyllium can be a source of soluble as well as insoluble fiber depending if the hull is used or not.
Gentle Fiber, Good Digestive Tolerance
Increasing fiber intake should be gradual in order to control the discomfort (bloating, gas) caused by such a diet. Also, make sure to drink enough water during the day to ensure their efficiency. Many clinical studies conducted on the acacia gum fiber have demon-strated this soluble fiber is very well tolerated by the digestive system, for quantities of up to 50g/day.
The Winning Combinations
By combining fibers with a probiotic formula, the installation of a healthy intestinal flora will be eased. The production of short chain fatty acids will be facilitated and will therefore ensure good intestinal health.
By combining fibers to specialized enzymes, we improve the gastrointestinal system. In addition, some enzymes, like protease (which helps digesting proteins), also have an effect on inflammation. As long as we're taking fibers, why not combine them for a winning synergy!
Sandrine Briatte, B.Sc. Biochemistry, M.Sc. Biology, is a scientific director in research and development of natural health products. She currently works at Virage Santé in Quebec and offers her expertise by providing training for customers. Discover what quality fiber, probiotics and enzymes can do you you with Bifidofib (probiotics + fibres) and Lactofib (probiotics + fibres + enzymes). For more information: www.viragesante.com or call 1-800-463-0944.