It’s not exactly what you’d call a sexy topic. Mention it and most folks sigh and change the subject. Or make jokes about “old people.”
But it’s time you gave fiber another chance because it just got a major makeover while you weren’t looking.
And one specific type of fiber just took center stage in the fight against the cluster of conditions known as metabolic syndrome: including obesity, high blood pressure, belly fat, blood sugar and unhealthy cholesterol.
Beat obesity, heart disease, diabetes and more
We’ve told you about inulin before. This compound, found in a number of plants, acts as an insoluble fiber when eaten.
That means your body can’t break it down and absorb it when it enters your digestive system. Instead, it absorbs water making you feel fuller, clinging to cholesterol and helping to form more easily passable stool.
But where inulin really shines is in its ability to act as a prebiotic.
As an insoluble fiber, inulin passes through your system without being broken down. In this process, it naturally ferments feeding your healthy gut bugs.
And it’s this ability that researchers say makes it a superstar. Because it can help prevent all the chronic conditions that make up metabolic syndrome from excess belly fat to high blood pressure.
Which means eating plenty of inulin rich foods could slash your own risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Inulin fiber reversed obesity and metabolic syndrome
In the new animal study, led by Georgia State University, researchers showed that a diet high in fermentable inulin fiber could literally prevent the damage done by an unhealthy “Western” style diet.1
For four weeks, the scientists fed mice either…
- a grain-based rodent chow
- a low fiber, high junk fat “Western” style diet (linked to obesity and metabolic syndrome)
Predictably, the mice eating the unhealthy diet packed on the pounds and started having symptoms associated with metabolic syndrome. The researchers then began supplementing the rodents on the high fat diet with either cellulose fiber or inulin fiber.
And the results were stunning.
Both fibers had some impact on obesity and blood sugar levels, but the inulin fiber was the clear winner. The inulin eating mice noticeably slimmed down, effortlessly shedding the weight they had gained on the poor diet.
According to the researchers their fat cells literally shrank. But the benefits didn’t end there. Unhealthy cholesterol levels plummeted, reducing the risk of high blood pressure right along with them. And abnormal blood sugar levels were stopped in their tracks too.
In other words, the inulin reversed and prevented essentially every single condition linked to metabolic syndrome. And in the process sent the rodent’s risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke plummeting.
Banish metabolic syndrome with prebiotic power
Now you’re probably wondering how this strange sorcery works. But I can assure you there’s nothing magical about it. It turns out those prebiotic benefits I mentioned earlier are actually the key.
Our modern diet is a mess and it’s making a mess of our digestive tract and our health too. Our reliance on highly processed foods, which are pitifully low in fiber, is destroying our belly bug balance. And experts believe that unbalanced gut flora triggers the chronic inflammation that’s behind one of today’s worst epidemics, metabolic syndrome.
The typical “Western” diet, which is low in fiber and high in junk fats (and far too heavy in inflammatory omega-6s), is like a bull in china shop when it comes to the microorganism balance in your body.
A steady diet of overly processed foods slashes the number of protective epithelial cells that line your intestines. These cells protect the tissues in your gastrointestinal tract from the outside invaders. And they play a critical role in the immune response of your intestines.
But that’s where inulin can help.
The prebiotic fiber naturally ferments…
- refurbishing your gut flora
- increasing the number epithelial cells in your intestines
- preventing gut bugs from invading intestinal cells
- restoring your gut health
This certainly doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still strive for a healthy diet. But researchers say eating more inulin-rich foods could help protect us against some of our worst eating habits.
Eat more inulin to boost your gut health
You’ll find a good amount of inulin in the following foods…
- fresh herbs
- sprouted wheat
- chicory root
- dandelion root
Inulin supplements, often made from chicory, are also available. You can stir inulin powder supplements into your favorite recipes (it’s essentially calorie and taste free) or foods such smoothies, applesauce and yogurt.
Beat obesity and guard yourself against heart disease, diabetes and more with this common and affordable plant food.
1. “Fiber-Mediated Nourishment of Gut Microbiota Protects against Diet-Induced Obesity by Restoring IL-22-Mediated Colonic Health,” Cell Host & Microbe, Volume 23, Issue 1, p41–53.e4, 10 January 2018