NIH study finds association between fiber intake and many health areas

Sources: NutraIngredients.com and Archives of Internal Medicine.

A recent study by the NIH concluded that “Dietary fiber may reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular, infectious, and respiratory diseases. Making fiber-rich food choices more often may provide significant health benefits.”

Despite the well known health benefits of fiber, many Americans fall short of their daily allowance. We have several products in our digestive health category that can help you get the recommended daily allowance of fiber. Our newest addition, PhytoBlue Blueberry and Fiber Formula, boasts 6 grams of fiber per serving (4g soluble) in addition to an advanced phytonutrient blend.

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PhytoBlue Blueberry and Fiber Formula

We’ve released yet another great new product, PhytoBlue Blueberry and Fiber Formula.

Our PhytoBlue Formula is the convergence of an advanced phytonutrient formula (packed with blueberries, elderberries and antioxidants) with 6 full grams of fiber. Unlike plain fiber, which does not contain antioxidants or phytonutrients, PhytoBlue represents the next generation in fiber supplementation.

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How Much Dietary Fiber Do You Need?

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each day, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
How Much Dietary Fiber Do You Need?

According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies of Science in its dietary advisory, Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (Macronutrients), Chapter 7: Dietary, Functional, and Total Fiber, most adults should consume 25 g to 38 g of dietary fiber daily.10 This recommendation was based on the Institute’s determination that this amount of dietary fiber could protect an individual from developing coronary artery disease. The Institute assumed that this amount also would be sufficient to promote bowel health.

Interestingly, the results of an analysis of the combined data obtained in the 76,947-woman Nurses’ Health Study and the 47,279-man Health Professionals Follow-Up Study also support the concept that adequate dietary fiber intake is absolutely necessary for colon health. As a result of their analyses these scientists concluded that every 5 g of dietary fiber consumed daily reduced the chances of developing colorectal cancer by about 9%.11

However, unlimited intake of soluble dietary fiber may not be prudent.12 Foods rich in soluble dietary fiber often contain compounds that prevent the digestion of dietary fat. Although this may seem appealing to some individuals who experience difficulty maintaining a healthy body weight, it is unhealthy and may decrease the absorption of essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins. Similarly, soluble fiber intakes greater than 50 g/day may inhibit the digestion of dietary sugars – again, potentially attractive to the overweight but unhealthy. Increasing the amount of simple sugars and starches, such as corn starch, rice starch and potato starch that reaches the colon encourages the microbes to produce lactic acid, not butyrate. While the lack of butyrate produced may be directly unhealthy for the colon, the increased amounts of sugars and starches may also promote the growth of unhealthy bacteria and yeast, adversely affecting the healthy balance of bacterial flora in the guts. Maintaining a balanced amount of dietary fiber intake is thus necessary to obtain its benefits.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Colon Ecology

References:
10. Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (Macronutrients), Chapter 7: Dietary, Functional, and Total Fiber. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2005, pp. 339-421.
11. Michels KB, Fuchs CS, Giovannucci E, Colditz GA, Hunter DJ, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC. Fiber intake and incidence of colorectal cancer among 76,947 women and 47,279 men. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2005;14:842-849.
12. Chandalia M, Garg A, Lutjohann D, von Bergmann K, Grundy SM, Brinkley LJ. Beneficial effects of high dietary fiber intake in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. N Engl J Med 2000;342:1392-1398.

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Dietary Fiber

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each day, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Dietary Fiber

There are several types of dietary fibers.8 Nutritionists classify the types of dietary fibers that can be converted into butyrate as either soluble or insoluble. Examples of soluble dietary fiber include the beta-glucans (including arabinogalactans and lactoferrin), gums, mucilages, oligosaccharides and pectins. Soluble dietary fiber comprises 10% to 20% of the total dietary fiber content of such foods as fruit, okra, beans, turnips, oats, parsnips, sea weeds, and prunes. Examples of insoluble dietary fiber include the celluloses and lignins. They are found in more fibrous foods. Because it exhibits variable characteristics, a type of dietary fiber called hemicellulose is classified as both soluble and insoluble.

The soluble dietary fibers are the most readily “fermentable” in the human colon, meaning that it is easier for the normal bacterial flora to convert them into other nutrients, including butyrate. Fermentable dietary fiber serves as a “pre-biotic” in that it promotes the growth and viability of beneficial species of gut bacteria. However, dietary fiber has benefits for humans beyond the fermentability by colonic bacteria. The results of a study published recently in the Journal of Nutrition show that different kinds of dietary fiber can bind to glucose and fats in the digestive tract, preventing their absorption into the blood, regardless of their “solubility.”9 Fiber thus can influence the maintenance of healthy blood sugar levels and cholesterol.

Another type of dietary fiber, non-fermentable dietary fiber, is found in such foods as oat hulls, methylcellulose and wood pulp cellulose. These food components are not processed by microbes to any appreciable extent. Instead, they function in the human colon to carry the fermenting bacteria along through the colon and rectum; decrease the absorption of glucose in the small intestine and increase the glucose content of stool; dilute pathogens and toxins in the digesta and stool; distend the colonic mucosa, stimulating peristaltic contractions and increasing the rate of movement of the digesta through the digestive tract (an increased “rate of passage” decreases the amount of time that colon cells are exposed to any toxins in the digesta); and inhibit the induction of inflammation in the colon by unhealthy organisms. By promoting stool bulk, this type of fiber maintains gut ecology and supports healthy colonic function.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
How Much Dietary Fiber Does Your Colon Need Us to Eat?

References:
8. Kay RM. Dietary fiber. J Lipid Res 1982;23:221-242.
9. Dikeman CL, Murphy MR, Fahey GC Jr. Dietary fibers affect viscosity of solutions and simulated human gastric and small intestinal digesta. J Nutr 2006;136:913-919.

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Probiotics, Prebiotics and Fiber

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each day, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Probiotics, Prebiotics and Fiber

Adequate amounts of dietary fiber are essential to overall digestive health and colonic function. Likewise, probiotics are also essential to overall digestive wellness, colon health and a healthy immune system. An unhealthy colon leads to many things. One of the first manifestations is abnormal bowel movements.

Consistency of Bowel Movements

As one of the most fundamental functions of the colon is maintaining water balance, it performs this function by affecting the consistency of the stool. When colon cells are starving they are not able to shift water from the lumen of the colon back to the blood. The water stays in the gut and leaves (usually somewhat hurriedly) as a wet or even really watery stool – that’s diarrhea. Once that happens, you’re dehydrated, and your upper digestive tract adds less water to the materials it is trying to digest. Because they contain less water, these materials do not “slide” along the gut as easily and they tend to clog the digestive tube. By the time they reach the colon, they may have formed a mass that is too hard to deform by colon muscle contractions – this mass then tends to stay put – that’s constipation. This vicious cycle illustrates two extremes of an unhealthy colon.

One of two things then happens: either you manage somehow to pass this dry hard stool or you take a laxative that contains a chemical that forces your colon to contract so hard that it expels the lump. In both situations, the cells lining the colon and rectum can become irritated. Now, because less water was “wasted” in this bowel movement, your body has a chance to re-establish water balance. But your colon is now irritated in addition to being underfed. The next time your colon receives material from the small intestine, it “takes back” even less of the water, leading to another episode of dehydrating diarrhea. And so on. In many adults who do not realize that this is both abnormal and correctable through the diet, this cycle can perpetuate for years and even decades. In order to break this cycle, we need to ensure that the colon is being “fed” with the nutrients it needs.

In order to remain healthy, the colon cells thrive by eating the leftovers from our diet. In short – whatever remains after the bacteria, yeast, molds and protozoa in the colon have had their fill. Remember, not much ingested material reaches the colon – only about 10% or less of an average meal. As a function of normal digestion, by the time these leftovers get to your colon, almost all of the nutrients have been removed by the small intestine.

It is reassuring to know that the microbial residents of your colon are much better at chemically converting the material that reaches the colon into useful nutrients than they are at gobbling up those nutrients, so there can be plenty left-over for your colon cells to enjoy. Thus healthy bacteria do their part in maintaining the symbiotic relationship with our bodies, benefiting them and us. In addition to the vitamins and amino acids produced and shared by the microbes, the most important product of their activity for the health of colon cells is the conversion of undigested foodstuffs into what are called short-chain fatty acids.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Probiotics, Prebiotics and Fiber: Short-Chain Fatty Acids

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