OLIPOP Root Beer

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Ultimate Guide to Plant Fiber

To foster healthy bacteria in our guts, we need to create the perfect environment for them to thrive. Most of our bacteria happen to be foodies and therefore, are very particular about what they eat. AKA that junk and processed foods isn’t their cup of tea.


In fact, in case you need more reasons to put down the junk, there’s evidence that refined sugar, fats, and salt when consumed in excess may lead to something known as leaky gut syndrome. This health effect causes tiny little holes in our digestive system to leak out the good bacteria we need to keep us healthy and happy. A leaky gut can also put you at risk for a plethora of different diseases and health conditions., like food allergies, celiac disease, and even cancer[2].


Truthfully, the little army in our gut does a ton for us, so the least we can do is feed them what they want so they can continue protecting us, right? If you’re wondering: what do the bacteria in your gut want and need to keep you happy and healthy? They really like fiber. Here’s everything you need to know so you can increase your fiber intake and start making your bacteria super happy.

What Is Fiber?

Occasionally called roughage or bulk, fiber is the component of plant foods your body can neither digest or absorb. While your body can break down and absorb other food elements like fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, your body cannot digest fiber. Instead, fiber passes through your stomach and colon relatively intact.

Does fiber come from plants?

Fiber is only found in plant foods. Neither meat nor dairy contains natural fiber. Fiber is the part of plants that humans digestive tracts cannot digest, and these include the plant cell walls (cellulose, hemicelluloses, pectin, and lignin)[3].

Plant Fiber: Soluble fiber vs. insoluble fiber

There are two types of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble.

Here is the difference between the two:

  • Soluble fiber dissolves in water; the result is a gel-like substance that slows down the digestive process and makes you feel full.
  • Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. Instead, it passes through your small intestine into the large intestine, where it draws water into your stool for aided bowel regulation. Essentially, this fiber acts as bulk to keep your digestive system running smoothly[1].

Benefits of Plant Fiber

Both soluble and insoluble fiber are needed by your body to maintain proper digestive health; however, they differ on their benefits.

Soluble Fiber Benefits

When soluble fiber enters your stomach, it collects water, dissolving and turning into a gel. If you've ever seen or eaten chia seeds and noticed the gel that forms around them, then you've seen this soluble fiber in action! This gel slows down digestion, allowing your body to absorb your food's vitamins and nutrients better and make you feel fuller.


Additionally, some varieties of soluble fiber are considered to be a prebiotic, and therefore, are essential in balancing your gut's microbiome. Prebiotics are metabolized by the colonic microbiome, promoting the growth of certain good bacteria species while promoting the release of metabolites such as short-chain fatty acids[4].


In addition to being great at aiding digestion, there are a surplus of ways soluble fiber benefits your health.


A type of soluble fiber, "prebiotic" fiber, is crucial and works as food for the beneficial bacteria living in your gut. Prebiotics belongs to a diverse category that comprises carbohydrates, resistant starches, pectins, and other beneficial ingredients that your army of good bacteria (probiotics) loves to eat. By feeding them prebiotics, you’re strengthening and helping them maintain your levels of good healthy bacteria.


But prebiotic fiber isn’t the only soluble fiber that does many incredible things for your body. Here are a few examples of ways soluble fiber impacts your health:

  • Lowering cholesterol: Because it is not absorbed in the intestine, soluble fiber can bind cholesterol in the intestine and eliminate it from the body. By consuming 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber a day, one can improve their total and LDL cholesterol by 5 to 11 points[5].
  • Stabilizing blood sugar (glucose) levels: Soluble fiber stalls the digestion speed of nutrients, including carbohydrates. Therefore, meals containing soluble fiber rarely cause sharp spikes in blood sugar levels[1].
  • Lowering fat absorption and helping weight management: Remember that gel we talked about? As a spread-out, thick gel, soluble fiber aids in blocking fats that would otherwise be digested and absorbed.
  • Lessening the risk of cardiovascular disease: Regularly eating soluble fiber may lower the risk of heart disease and circulatory conditions.
  • Feeding healthy gut bacteria: Some soluble fiber-rich foods provide gut bacteria, as it is fermentable in the colon, which helps the bacteria prosper longer.

Insoluble Fiber Benefits

Insoluble fiber's job is to soften your stool and make it easier to pass through your colon. As insoluble fiber passes through your small intestines, it draws water into the large intestine, which helps keep your stool soft and leads to a more enjoyable bathroom experience.


When it comes to regulation, insoluble fiber has a number of benefits, such as:

  • Speeds up digestion. Insoluble fiber slows down digestion. Hence, your body is better able to properly absorb nutrients from your food.
  • Insoluble fiber increases fecal bulk. Insoluble fiber works to help fecal material move through your digestive system and increase stool bulk, which is essential for maintaining digestive regularity and particularly helpful for those who struggle with constipation. 

High-fiber foods

If you are looking for ways to add more soluble fiber to your diet, there are some easy ways to integrate more of the miracle nutrient into your diet. You can choose from inulin, gums, pectins, or psyllium. Here is a little more about each:

  • Inulin, part of the fructan group, is most commonly found in chicory root, asparagus, bananas, garlic, leeks, and onions. We use inulin in our delicious sparkling tonics, so they're packed with soluble fiber.
  • Gums: When adding more gums to your diet, make sure to look for plant-based, naturally-derived gums like guar and acacia[6]. Gums are known to help to stabilize food. Pectins: come from the plant’s cell walls and are in fruits and vegetables. Pectins helps to thicken and are most commonly found on the ingredients list of jellies and jams.
  • Psyllium: absorbs water in the intestines to help add bulk to your stool. This type of polysaccharides is derived from Plantago ovata seeds and is often added as a powder into food or drink.
  • Fructooligosaccharides (FOS): short fructose chains are often used as an alternative to sugar due to their prebiotic effects and beneficial mineral absorption. FOS is found in fruits, vegetables, and grains such as chicory, asparagus, onions, wheat, and tomatoes.
  • Beta-glucans: sugar compounds that serve as the primary form of fiber found in the cell walls of cereals, grain, and fungi (think mushrooms!). Beta-glucans are found in bacteria, yeast, fungi, algae, and plants such as oats and barley.

If you are looking to add more insoluble fiber into your diet, try to add whole grains/whole wheat, seeds, nuts, and root vegetables, like the following, are common types of insoluble fiber-rich foods:


  • Wheat bran
  • Corn bran
  • Oats Popcorn
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Potatoes Carrots
  • Beets
  • Brown rice
  • Flaxseed
  • Green beans

High-fiber diet

Today, almost half of United States citizens carry a pre-diabetes, diabetes, or metabolic syndrome diagnosis. Additionally, the average American consumes less than fifteen grams of fiber per day, less than half the recommended amount. Changing to a high-fiber diet might alleviate this diagnosis. A high fiber diet is correlated with many physiological health benefits[7].

Low-fiber diet

The lack of dietary fiber in our American diet explains many of the Western diseases we are currently suffering from. Providing more dietary fiber would result in weight loss, lower inflammation, and decreased risk of Western diseases[8].

Plant Fiber

Fiber is important in our diets and keeps our gut health in check. Adding both soluble and insoluble fiber into your diet is an easy way to support your health. And, to fill in your fiber gaps, incorporating OLIPOP into your diet is an easy and delicious way to give your body some fantastic, intentional ingredients that support your digestive health and help you get some of the fiber you need to lead a healthier, more balanced life.


Sources

  1. James M. Lattimer and Mark D. Haub, “Effects of Dietary Fiber and Its Components on Metabolic Health,” Nutrients 2, no. 12 (December 15, 2010): 1266–89, https://doi.org/10.3390/nu2121266.
  2. Vani Hari, Feeding You Lies: How to Unravel the Food Industry’s Playbook and Reclaim Your Health (Hay House Inc, 2019).
  3. Gene A. Spiller, CRC Handbook of Dietary Fiber in Human Nutrition, Third Edition (CRC Press, 2001).
  4. “Probiotics, Prebiotics and the Gut Microbiota,” ILSI, n.d., https://ilsi.org/publication/probiotics-prebiotics-and-the-gut-microbiota/.
  5. Karen Aspry, “Adding Soluble Fiber to Lower Your Cholesterol Advice from the National Lipid Association Clinician’s Lifestyle Modification Toolbox,” National Lipid Association, n.d., accessed May 11, 2021.
  6. Bernice Karlton‐Senaye and Salam Ibrahim, “Impact of Gums on the Growth of Probiotics,” unknown, July 1, 2013, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/281787450_Impact_of_gums_on_the_growth_of_probiotics.
  7. Aelia Akbar and Aparna P. Shreenath, “High Fiber Diet,” July 2, 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559033/.
  8. Justin Sonnenburg and Erica Sonnenburg, The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-Term Health (Penguin, 2015).
Cheat Sheet
  • Fiber is the component of plant foods your body can neither digest nor absorb
  • Soluble fiber dissolves in water; the result is a gel-like substance that slows down the digestive process and makes you feel full.
  • Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. Essentially, this fiber acts as bulk to keep your digestive system running smoothly.
  • Both soluble and insoluble fiber are needed by your body to maintain proper digestive health; however, they differ on their benefits.
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