Fiber the forgotten ally

Fiber the forgotten ally

Fiber is defined as the portion of plant-based foods that cannot be completely broken down by digestive enzymes. As its definition implies, fiber is not directly absorbed by your body, and we can’t directly use it as a source of energy.

But that doesn’t mean that it is useless since fiber is actually used by our gut bacteria. To understand how our microbiome(the bacteria in our body) deals with fiber we have to understand the different types of fiber.

Types of Fiber

We  can mainly distinguish between two types of fiber, the soluble fibers and the insoluble fibers.

Soluble Fibers

Those tha tare carried in the liquid portion of plant based foods. They are characcterizedby the fact that they slow digestion and absorbtion of food, this is extremelyusefull when it comes to reducing the speed of abrobtion of the sugars found infruits and as such reducing the glycemic response.

This kind of fiber is the on that  our bacteria turn into gases and other products. This fibers are made mostly of glucose based molecules.

Insoluble fibers

We understand by this, those polysaccharides that are not digested. These are the ones responsible for going to the toilet more often if you consume high levels of fiber.

This kind is also the one responsible for giving the soluble fiber the chance to remain enough time in your gut to be processed since if it were only soluble fiber it wouldn’t pass enough time in your gut to be processed completely.

You could think of the insoluble fibers as obstacles that make the movement of the soluble fiber slower and as such make it take more time in your gut. The fact that the soluble fiber slows down is also useful due to the fact that it gives your body the chance to metabolize what it gets and keep up the process without being overriden.

This is another of the reasons why processed sugars are as harmfull as they are, since the lack of fiber makes it so that your body is unable to keep up with the flow of sugar and as such it goes into overdrive which with enough iterations could end up damaging it in an irrecoverable way.

The assembly line analogy

To get all the benefits of the fiber, it needs to coat all the food, in this way it is only once your enzymes act on it and slowly strip away this coat that its interior can flow into your gut and be transported to the different organs. Ifon the other hand, the ”coat” isn’t complete, you might have an excess which your body can’t keep up with.

You could think of the enzymes as the workers in an assembly line. It is only when all of them work at the same speed that you get the desired product that you can sell. But if for example one of the parts started going too fast, the rest would be unable to keep up and you would end up with undesired products.

In the case of our body if there is no fiber, then it is like jumping one of the steps of the assembly line and speeding up the process, this means that the organs will work as hard as they can to keep up, but at some point will be unable to do it and will start accumulating damage.

Foods such as white rice have had their fiber stripped of them. While this makes sense since it increases shelf life and reduces its price, it also means that by losing the fiber we are forcing our body to go a little bit into overdrive whenever we eat it, especially if we don’t prepare it with other sources of fiber such as vegetables.

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