What’s so fabulous about fibre?

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We are only just beginning to explore the intricacies of how the food we eat interacts with our bodies and in particular, our gut microbiota (the incredible 100 trillion bacteria that live in our digestive system). Fibre is a vital part of what can be called your ‘way of life’ or your daily normal diet (click here to see my previous post on ‘Which diet is best for me?’). The aim of this article is to share the evidence on the benefits of fibre, where we can get it from and how we can apply this to our everyday. 

The WHY of FIBRE.

Looking into the importance and benefits of fibre will hopefully encourage you to welcome it into your day wherever and however you can.

FIRST BENEFIT: Fibre has hormonal effects.

What is a hormone and how does it relate to fibre?

The word Hormone is Greek for ‘set in motion’. If you imagine a hormone like a parent on a mission, intent on getting things done; hormones are chemicals that travel to certain organs and exert a specific effect in order to make things happen.

An example is the fascinating hormone Insulin which is remarkably designed to allow the body to utilise sugar/glucose from the food we eat to be used as fuel (sugar is essential for our survival, click here to read more on why). Insulin is able to unlock cells, in effect telling the body to absorb this energy source for immediate use or to store it for later.

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How is insulin linked to fibre?

The fibre in your meal adds bulk to your food, which means it takes longer to chew and travel through the body, slowing down the digestive process. This slowing down means that food takes longer to leave the stomach and longer for the digested food to be absorbed into the bloodstream. This results in a delayed release of sugar into the blood and a delayed release of the hormone Insulin.

Why is this so important?

Dr Jason Fung, Canadian kidney specialist describes the action of Insulin similar to the railway guards in Japan called ‘pushers’. The job of these ‘pushers’ is to cram as many people onto the subway trains as they can during peak time. Similarly, Insulin is released by the body after eating highly refined carbohydrates, for example,  to ‘push’ the sugar efficiently into our cells. With the sugar now being taken up by the cells, there can be a sudden drop in blood sugar which if persists in some people can cause feelings of hunger, tiredness, fatigue and dizziness- symptoms of what we may call a ‘sugar crash’.

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“Study first to show that low-carb diets can improve arterial blood flow in as little as four weeks”

FINDINGS:

In this study, a group of men and women were put on low-carbohydrate diets and important health parameters monitored.  After  4 weeks, researchers found that the men lost more WEIGHT and the women showed more ARTERIAL FLEXIBILITY.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN:

1 out of 3 adults in America and 7 million in the UK  live with higher than normal blood sugar levels,  a condition known as ‘pre-diabetes’.  Pre-diabetic women run an increased risk of heart disease.

Heart disease is reported as the primary cause of death in both the U.S. and UK.

This study gives us hope and shows that we can have a direct influence on this life-threatening risk and reduce the chances of developing heart disease by choosing a  carbohydrate-restricted diet.

Although the specific mechanisms are unknown at this stage,  this study has shown a link between food choice and better artery health and in the long run better heart health.

Possible first step:   Cutting out or at least reducing intake of highly refined carbs would be a significant step towards achieving better artery and heart health and longevity!

Click here to see my post on adding leafy greens to your diet.

FUTURE POST:

” Are all carbs bad for you?”

 

JOURNAL SOURCE:

Syed-Abdul, M.  et al. (2018) “Effect of carbohydrate restriction-induced weight loss on aortic pulse wave velocity in overweight men and women” Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.  DOI: 10.1139/apnm-2018-0113