Calories from high-fiber foods have been called “smart calories” because high-fiber foods such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains tend to be healthier and because fiber fills you up and keeps you feeling full. Likely due to those reasons, a recent study has shown that a high-fiber diet is almost as effective as a calorie-restrictive one in terms of weight loss.
However, a new study on mice published in the American Journal of Physiology—Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology shows that fiber may affect body weight in an entirely new and different way. Mice fed a diet low in soluble fiber gained weight and had more body fat when compared to mice fed a diet that included soluble fiber.
Researchers believe that the mice gained that weight because soluble fiber is essential for a healthy gut microbiota. The lack of soluble fiber contributed to inflammation in the intestines and poor gut health, and these factors were thought to be the underlying factors that contributed to the weight gain.
After just two days without soluble fiber, the soluble-fiber-deficient mice’s intestines became shorter and their intestinal walls became thinner! Without soluble fiber, it seems that the gut flora were unable to produce a sufficient quantity of short-chain fatty acids that the intestinal cells need to make energy. These short-chain fatty acids also have anti-inflammatory properties. When the mice were once again given soluble fiber, their guts returned to normal and the inflammation disappeared.
From Medical Xpress:
“If our observations were to prove applicable to humans, it would suggest that encouraging consumption of foods with high soluble fiber content may be a means to combat the epidemic of metabolic disease.”
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