2021 June DDHChat: Different Types of Fibers
IFFGD – introductory tweets and remarks:
The views and experiences shared by our participant are their own and do not reflect the official positions of IFFGD. Each patient is different. Always consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian (RD) on a diet treatment plan that is right for you. Information and resources shared during today’s chat should not replace the medical care that you are receiving. And as a reminder, be sure to include #DDHChat in each of your tweets.
IFFGD – welcomes everyone to the chat and introduces co-host Nancee Jaffe, MS, RDN:
Welcome to our June #DDHChat on Different Types of Fiber with lead host Nancee Jaffe, MS, RDN. Fiber is something we are all familiar with, but why is it so important, how is it good for our health, and why do some fibers cause GI symptoms while others do not? Dietary fiber can be found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes can even help prevent or relieve constipation. However, too much fiber and/or not the right type for your specific GI needs may result in loose stools, bloating or even diarrhea. Whenever you notice changes in your symptoms, it is important to communicate these changes with your healthcare provider.
It can be challenging to know how much fiber need, what type of fiber you need daily, and how to add it to your meals or snacks. Various dietary modifications and other lifestyle changes may help to reduce symptoms that occur. It is natural to have some concerns about finding the right treatment plan for you. For some, seeking support from a registered dietitian could help. During the next hour, we’ll discuss the different types of fiber, its importance to our health and tips to increase your daily intake.
We’re joined today by registered dietitian Nancee Jaffe, MS, RDN to share her unique insights on the Different Types of Fiber.
IFFGD and Nancee Jaffe, MS, RDN Q&A:
Q1: As we begin this month’s Diet and Digestive Health Chat (DDHChat) Twitter Chat series, @NanceeJaffeRDN, what is fiber and what key roles does it play in our gastrointestinal (GI) health? #DDHChat
Nancee Jaffe, MS, RDN: According to the Institutes of Medicine (Twitter Handle – @theIOM), fiber is defined as a carbohydrate that is not broken down or absorbed in the upper part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It can be divided into dietary fibers, which are non-digestible carbohydrates found in the plants we humans consume, and functional fibers, which are isolated, non-digestible carbohydrates extracted from plants or synthesized in labs that have been show beneficial physiological effects on humans. Fiber supplements provide some but not all health benefits found in dietary fibers. Different types of fiber can have a big impact on the frequency and form of our bowel movements and might help encourage a healthy gut microbiome. #DDHChat
Q2: What are common signs and symptoms of insufficient dietary fiber? #DDHChat
Nancee Jaffe, MS, RDN: Fiber plays many roles in the body, including normalizing and maintaining healthy bowel movements, lowering cholesterol (both total and LDL), managing blood sugar levels, preventing cardiovascular disease and cancer, and maintaining or achieving healthy body weight. If any of these areas are not in balance, such as having constipation, high cholesterol or LDL levels, high blood sugar levels or being overweight, poor or inadequate fiber intake might be involved (though is unlikely to be the sole contributor). #DDHChat
Q3: What is the recommended daily intake of fiber for adults? #DDHChat
Nancee Jaffe, MS, RDN: The Institutes of Medicine (Twitter Handle – @theIOM) recommends women consume 21-25 grams of fiber daily and men consume 30-38 grams of fiber daily. Unfortunately the average American only consumes about 18 grams of fiber per day – no wonder we are all so constipated! #DDHChat
Q4: We briefly touched on this in our #DDHChat introduction, but what type of foods are usually high in #fiber?
Nancee Jaffe, MS, RDN: Fiber is found in plants – some good sources include; whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds. My personal favorites for GI health are kiwis, chia seeds, flax seeds, and rolled oats. #DDHChat
Q5: What is soluble fiber, how does it impact our GI and overall health, and what are some examples? #DDHChat
Nancee Jaffe, MS, RDN: Solubility is the capacity of being dissolved in water. Soluble fiber is fiber that can absorb and hold on to fluid. Soluble fiber is great for adding bulk to stool and encouraging more water holding capacity – making stool easier to pass. GI experts often use the Rome Foundation Bristol Stool Chart to assess stool form. Well formed, and easy to pass stool (Type 4 – based on the Bristol Stool Chart) is made of approximately 75% water; changes in the water holding capacity of the stool can lead to diarrhea or constipation; the difference between stool that is Type 4 on the Bristol Stool Chart and Type 6 could be as little as 6% change in water content.
Soluble fibers (if they are viscous – more on this in a few questions) also spend more time in the stomach, which means it slows how quickly food passes through the gut, which can be very helpful for those with diarrhea/loose watery stools, as well as slow glucose absorption (good for those with diabetes). Nonviscous soluble fibers help encourage a healthy gut microbiome by acting as fuel for colonic bacteria. Soluble fibers include pectins, β-glucans, galactomannan gums, mucilages, and some hemicelluloses. Examples of foods high in soluble fiber are stone fruits (nectarines, peaches, apricots), avocado, banana, zucchini, instant oats and onions #DDHChat
Q6: What is insoluble fiber, how does it impact our GI and overall health, and what are examples of this type? #DDHChat
Nancee Jaffe, MS, RDN: Insoluble fiber, as the name implies, is not able to absorb or hold water. Instead, insoluble fiber acts like a scrubber brush that gently scrapes and scratches as it moves through the GI tract. This makes insoluble fiber great at speeding up how fast stool transits the colon, making it good for those with constipation. Insoluble fibers include cellulose and some hemicelluloses, resistant starches, and chitin. Examples of foods high in insoluble fiber are corn, celery, berries, flaxseeds, and okra.#DDHChat
Q7: Mucilage, beta-glucans have significant health benefits and can be found in common foods that many people eat. What are the benefits of Mucilage, beta-glucans? What are some examples of this fiber and what are ways to incorporate it in out diet? #DDHChat
Nancee Jaffe, MS, RDN: Fiber has many characteristics besides solubility. Another important characteristic of fiber is viscosity – the state of being thick, sticky and semifluid in consistency (aka, it forms a gel). Mucilage and beta-glucans are carbohydrate found in plants that has the quality of being viscous. Viscous fibers are wonderful at trapping and pulling cholesterol out of the body, helping to keep blood sugars low and, for bowel regularity, viscous fibers resist flow, meaning they can slow down how quickly stool transits the colon. Most viscous fibers are also water soluble. Food sources of mucilage are oats, chia seeds, psyllium, and okra. Beta-glucans is most commonly known for being in barley and oats. #DDHChat
Q8: Cellulose and some hemicellulose fibers are known to help reduce constipation. Why is this, what are some examples and what are ways to incorporate it in our diet? #DDHChat
Nancee Jaffe, MS, RDN: Cellulose is the outer tough portions of plants. It is made exclusively of insoluble fiber. Hemicellulose is insoluble in water but has the ability to be soluble in other more basic solutions. Both can we helpful for constipation as they increase stool weight and exert a laxative effect by speeding transit time. #DDHChat
Q9: Our gut microbiome plays a significant role in our overall health. How can inulin oligofructose (soluble fiber) improve our “good” bacteria, and what are some examples of how we can include this in our diet? #DDHChat
Nancee Jaffe, MS, RDN: Inulin is a category of prebiotic fiber that includes oligofructose. Prebiotic fibers act as fuel for the good bacteria that live in the human gut. Inulin and oligofructose are present as plant storage carbohydrates in a number of foods including wheat, onion, bananas, and garlic. Inulin and oligofructose are not digested in the upper gastrointestinal tract; therefore, they have a reduced caloric value. Oligofructose has a sweet, pleasant flavor and is highly soluble, so it can be used to add both fiber and sweetness to foods without adding calories.
Inulin used in food products is often extracted from the agave cactus or chicory root. Inulin and oligofructose stimulate the growth of a specific family of intestinal bacteria known as Bifidobacteria, one of the beneficial forms of bacteria in our guts. Health benefits of Bifidobacteria include inhibiting growth of “bad” bacteria, stimulating immunity and aiding in the creation of certain B vitamins. #DDHChat
Q10: What are resistant starches? What are the main benefits and what are some examples of how we can include this type of fiber in our diet? #DDHChat
Nancee Jaffe, MS, RDN: Resistant starches are a form of carbohydrate that resists fermentation in the gut. It is considered a prebiotic fiber. Unlike some other prebiotic fibers, the slow rate of fermentation for resistant starches means they create less gas and can help increase stool weight which is great for constipation. They are also good at lowering blood sugar. Resistant starch has fewer calories than regular starch — it also increases the sensation of fullness which might help with weight loss.
There are technically 4 types of resistant starches:
- RS1 = found in whole grains, seeds, legumes
- RS2 = found in starchy foods such as raw potatoes, underripe banana (allowing a banana to ripen breaks down the resistant starches and turn them into regular starches), legumes
- RS3 = found in starchy foods once cooled after cooking such as in bread, tortilla, cooked potatoes, rice, pasta (The cooling turns some of the digestible starches into resistant starches)
- RS4 = chemically modified starches. One of the best health benefits of resistant starch is it feeds the good bacteria in the gut and increases the production of short-chain fatty acids or SCFA. SCFA feed the cells of the colon and aid with bowel function #DDHChat
Q11: What are fun creative ways for families to include fiber into their meals? #DDHChat
Nancee Jaffe, MS, RDN: Sprinkle chia, flax and hemp seeds on morning oatmeal, yogurt or even on the occasional scoop of ice cream. Consider a taco night which incorporates lots of shredded fiber-rich vegetables (cabbage, tomato, lettuce, bell peppers, jicama, radish) and beans for protein.
Make homemade crackers out of plant fibers, nuts or seeds; here are my favorites: https://www.cleaneatingkitchen.com/carrot-pulp-crackers/, https://www.eatingbirdfood.com/3-ingredient-homemade-almond-crackers/#wprm-recipe-container-34051, https://www.alphafoodie.com/the-best-seed-cracker-recipe/#recipe.
Have mixed berries with dark chocolate for dessert; I love to melt the chocolate and then pour it over the berries – yum! Choose high fiber commercial snacks such as chickpea crisps, and dehydrated vegetables. #DDHChat
Q12: As we begin to wrap things up today, can you provide us with 3 of your favorite fiber tips? #DDHChat
Nancee Jaffe, MS, RDN: I’ll end with a few words of fiber caution:
- Some medications are affected by soluble viscous fibers – if taking fiber supplements, separate by 2 hours from oral prescriptions, fat soluble vitamins (ADEK) and mineral supplements such as iron
- If you want to increase your fiber intake, do it slowly! Upping fiber intake too quickly can lead to gas, bloating and abdominal discomfort regardless of fiber type
- Fiber supplements not recommended for those patients diagnosed with dyssynergic defecation and slow transit constipation. #DDHChat
IFFGD – final tweets and remarks:
We hope that you all have enjoyed our chat today on fiber. Remember that fiber comes in many different forms, it is important to work with your healthcare provider to find what helps you with your specific GI needs. Special thank you to Nancee Jaffe RDN for joining us today and sharing your unique insights on fiber. To learn more about fiber and other topics from this month’s lead host Nancee Jaffe, MS, RDN follow her twitter at @NanceeJaffeRDN #DDHChat