The Fiber in Superfoods Feeds Good Gut Bacteria
Fiber is found in all foods in different amounts, also we find different varieties in the fibers generally divided into two groups: soluble fiber (which dissolves in water) generally helps modulate blood sugar and regulate cholesterol (and more!), while unsoluble fiber (which does not dissolve in water) improves intestinal tract cleansing, fights constipation, and keeps the digestive tract functioning optimally. They both play important roles in fueling our bodies, and they both function as important food for our gut microbes.
Chemically speaking plant fibers include a whole subset of compounds that range from non-polysaccharides such as arabinoxylans and cellulose and well as many other plant components such as resistant starch, resistant dextrins, inulin, lignin, waxes, chitins, pectins, beta-glucans, and oligosaccharides. Quite the list, right? The list is so extensive because each plant uses fiber uniquely to create physical structure or to store energy and nutrients.
Eating a variety of foods provides us with a variety of fibers as well. This is important because different chemically formed fibers are broken down by different gut microbes in our bodies.
This benefits the entire community by supplying a wide range of nutrients, but more importantly perhaps, it prevents certain species of gut microbes from becoming dominant because they are the ones getting all the food! This is known as dysbiosis — a state where an imbalance of gut flora has harmful effects.
How harmful? lntestinal dysbiosis promotes disease in all patients with chronic gastrointestinal, inflammatory or autoimmune disorders, food allergies and intolerances, certain cancers, unexplained fatigue, and more. Research also points to some specific fibers acting as transportation for certain probiotic microbial strains. For example, when you consume fermented foods they help “transport” the microbes to our digestive tract.
We are starting to understand more and more the importance of fiber for our health. So don’t overlook the different types of fiber you can gain from eating a wide variety of foods and how they can influence your health and the health of your good gut bacteria.
With fiber’s importance for health, it is key to get it from every source possible — including the superfoods you eat! Here is a list of some of my favorite superfoods and their fiber content.
FIBER IN SUPERFOODS (per 10 grams)
- Lucuma powder 3.2-3.5 grams
- Chia seed 3.4 grams of fiber
- Acai berry powder 3.2 grams
- Cacao bean (nibs) 3.2 grams
- Flax seed 2.7 grams
- Kaniwa 2.7 grams
- Quinoa 1.5-2.5 grams
- Maca powder 2.2 grams
- Goldenberries (whole) 2.1 grams
- Maqui powder 2.0 grams
- Amaranth 1.7 grams
- Sacha inchi 1.7 grams
- Coconut (dried) 1.6 grams
- Hemp seed powder 1.5 grams
- Yacon root flour 1.0-1.4 grams
- Goji berries (whole) 1.1 grams
- Arracacha 0.8 grams
Shiu-Ming Kuo. The Interplay Between Fiber and the Intestinal Microbiome in the Inflammatory Response. Adv Nutr January 2013 Adv Nutr vol. 4: 16-28, 2013. doi: 10.3945/ an.112.003046
Juciane de Abreu Ribeiro PEREIRA, Maria de Fátima Píccolo BARCELOS, Michel Cardoso De Angelis PEREIRA, Eric Batista FERREIRA. Studies of chemical and enzymatic characteristics of Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) and its flour. Food Sci. Technol, Campinas, 33(1): 75-83, Jan.-Mar. 2013 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0101-20612013005000020
VASCONCELOS, Christiane Mileib. Determination of the soluble dietary fiber fraction in yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) root and flour by enzymatic-gravimetric method and high pressure liquid chromatography. Rev. Inst. Adolfo Lutz (Impr.) [online]. 2010, vol.69, n.2, pp. 188-193. ISSN 0073-9855.
Tamotsu Kato, Shinji Fukuda, Akemi Fujiwara, Wataru Suda, Masahira Hattori, Jun Kikuchi, and Hiroshi Ohno. Multiple Omics Uncovers Host–Gut Microbial Mutualism During Prebiotic Fructooligosaccharide Supplementation. DNA Res (2014)doi: 10.1093/dnares/dsu013. First published online: May 19, 2014
Glorio, P., Repo-Carrasco, R., Velezmoro, C., Anticona, S., Huaranga, R., Martínez, P., Melgarejo, S., Astuhuaman, L., Huamán, N.E., Icochea, J.C., Peña, J.C.. Dietary fiber in fruits, roots, tubers, cereals and pulses from peruvian cultivars. Rev. Soc. Quím. Perú v.74 n.1 Lima ene./Mar. 2008.
Darin Olien’s health and wellness company, SuperLife, headquartered in Malibu, CA, shares resources and breaking research that demystify health, fitness, nutrition, and longevity into simple daily actions. Olien’s fad-free, super simple rules of healthy eating and living create life-long wellness and the opportunity to live a SuperLife – the greatest expression of life possible!
About Darin Olien:
Nicknamed “The Indiana Jones of Superfoods,” Darin Olien is a widely recognized exotic superfoods hunter, supplement formulator, and environmental activist who travels the planet discovering new and underutilized medicinal plants. He works closely with thousands of international farmers, growers, and manufacturers to get high-quality, fair-trade superfood and herbal commodities out to market. Since 2005 he has sourced more than 300 foods and ingredients from around the world, working directly with the people of Peru, Bhutan, the Amazon region, the Himalayas, the South Pacific, and many other countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
Olien is a renowned authority on nutrition, hydration, and the potency of foods and herbs, which he writes about in his new book, SuperLife: The 5 Forces That Will Make You Healthy, Fit, and Eternally Awesome. The book offers resources for simple lifestyle changes that create long term-health. It is a fad-free, myth-busting, individualized approach to health developed from Olien’s 20+ years of travel and research around the world.