Grains.jpg

Let's eat it whole!

If we look back to our ancestors, when there were no grain mills and other machines for processing our food, then food basically equaled fiber. They ate food in the form that nature provided them. None of the nutritious parts were taken away and no artificial ingredients were added.

Image from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Image from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Above you can see the anatomy of a grain and what is removed during the refining process. The bran and germ, the most nutritious and fiber-rich parts of the grain are removed, leaving only the starchy carbohydrate middle layer, which contains only some proteins and vitamins.

The role of fiber

Dietary fiber plays a key role in our body and is needed for optimal health. Dietary fibers are indigestible carbohydrates and cannot be absorbed by the body. They remain as a bulk in our intestines and regulate our bowel movements. However, dietary fibers do much more than that. They nourish our good gut bacteria, which offer important health benefits. We have about 40 billion bacteria in our body, and most of them are found in our intestines (Healthline, 2020). The intestinal flora, like any other organ, needs fuel to do its vital work in our body, and these bacteria thrive on fiber. With a modern diet rich in sugar, refined foods and fats, these bacteria are starving, and the variety of good gut bacteria decreases. This can lead to dysbiosis, which means that the "bad" intestinal bacteria are more numerous than the "good" bacteria, which in turn can lead to various health problems.

As human cells cannot digest dietary fiber, it reaches the colon almost unchanged for our gut bacteria to digest. They make so called  short chain fatty acids (SCFA) from the dietary fiber. These fiber-derived SCFA can be absorbed into our bloodstream and have far-reaching positve effects ranging from immune function to inflammation and can play a key role in regulating appetite, metabolism and body fat (NutritionFacts.org, 2019).

The challenge

Therefore, the challenge of the month is to feed our good gut bacteria with lots of fiber. Replace all your grain products with whole grain products. Share your fiber rich meals on our Instagram page @alonga_world.

Fiber rich foods

Dietary fibers are only found in plants.The consumption of a plant-based wholefood diet will therefore provide you with a large amount of dietary fiber.  However, the richest sources of dietary fiber are whole grains and legumes such as chickpeas, lentils and beans as fruits and vegetables contain a large amount of water.

Here is a list of fiber rich fruits and vegetables.

Fruits:                          

Vegetables:

  • Carrots

  • Beetroots

  • Broccoli

  • Artichoke

  • Brussels sprouts

  • Sweet potatoes

Fiber and weight loss

As already mentioned, fiber adds bulk to our stomach, and high-fiber foods also take longer to leave the stomach. As a result, you will eat less and feel fuller for longer. In addition, our body can only absorb nutrients that come into physical contact with our intestinal wall. So if we eat fiber that is indigestible, it can trap calories in the mass and carry them out of the body without being absorbed. For example, if you eat a spoonful of nut butter with a glass of juice (where the fiber has been removed), all the calories reach the intestinal wall and are absorbed by our body.

 

When eaten with a slice of apple, the fiber in the apple binds some of the calories and eliminates them from the body without being absorbed. So it's not the calories you eat, but the calories you absorb (NutritionFacts.org, 2019).