May 3rd, 2021
May 3rd, 2021
Find out how dietary fiber, like inulin, supports digestion and discover which foods you should be eating daily.
Dietary fibers—primarily plant-based carbohydrates—are indigestible food components that are found in many cereals, fruits, vegetables and legumes. Because they can’t be broken down by human cells, they remain in the gastrointestinal tract where they serve as food for beneficial intestinal bacteria.
Dietary fibers can be divided into two categories: (water) soluble and (water) insoluble fiber.
Pectin, inulin, oligofructose and other prebiotics are all considered soluble dietary fibers and are found in fruit and vegetables. Because soluble fibers can bind to an enormous amount of water, they act as a swelling agent in the stomach. Chia seeds are a great example. They mostly contain soluble fiber, which is why they nearly double in size when soaked in water, transforming into a jelly-like mass.
Soluble dietary fibers help promote a feeling of fullness, thereby decreasing appetite, because they increase the volume of the stomach’s contents. And, because the good intestinal bacteria likes to eat them, they’re essential for healthy and balanced intestinal flora.
The main insoluble dietary fibers are cellulose and lignin, which are found primarily in whole-grain products, mushrooms, and legumes. Unlike soluble fibers, they aren’t broken down by intestinal bacteria, so they remain whole, and in this way, increase the volume of the stomach’s contents. And, because they don’t bind to water, they remain firm and can exert considerable pressure on the inner walls of the stomach. While this may sound unpleasant, it’s very beneficial for digestion because the presence of enough insoluble dietary fiber stimulates intestinal movement.
Inulin is a water-soluble dietary fiber that serves as food for the "good" intestinal bacteria. As with all other dietary fibers, the same applies to inulin: the human body does not produce a digestive enzyme to process inulin. Therefore, it passes through the stomach virtually undigested and can only be converted into fructose (which is used by the body for energy) by intestinal bacteria in the large intestine. This process takes place through fermentation, which is why inulin is also characterized as a fermentable dietary fiber.
Healthy intestinal bacteria, e.g. bifidus bacteria, prefer fructose molecules as an energy source so making sure that they get enough of their preferred fuel allows them to spread and thus displace pathogenic germs in the intestine. The result? A healthy balance of good bacteria in the intestinal flora.
Many vegetables and fruits naturally contain inulin, especially parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, onions, and garlic.
The best way to increase your fiber intake is to eat vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
These foods, in particular, pack a lot of fiber:
Gut Feeling Mix contains 6 plant-based ingredients that are beneficial to the digestive tract. A single serving contains 4g of dietary fiber, which is 20% of the daily recommended amount!
Written by Kristel