Many of us are aware that dietary fiber is important for our health. The breakfast cereal, Cheerios, has heart health message, “Three grams of soluble fiber daily from whole grain oat foods, like Cheerios™ cereal, in a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. Cheerios cereal provides 1 gram per serving. Other flavors provide .75 grams per serving”. I don’t believe that the highly processed cereal, Cheerios, could provide you with any health benefit, but it does give you awareness of the importance of dietary fiber. One of the amazing things about dietary fiber is that it helps reduce C reactive protein.
C reactive protein (CRP) is a protein that your liver produces in response to inflammation. Inflammation can be caused by many things, such as infection, injuries, or virus. However, your lifestyle choices can also elevate levels of CRP which indicate chronic inflammation. The lifestyle choices that contribute to chronic inflammation are smoking, obesity, alcohol, chronic stress, toxic chemical exposure, among others. When you are living with chronic inflammation, your body’s inflammatory response can eventually start damaging healthy cells, tissues, and organs. Over time, this can lead to DNA damage, tissue death, and internal scarring. All of these are linked to the development of several diseases such as, cancer, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, obesity, asthma, cognitive decline and dementia (in older adults).
So, maintaining low CRP (less than 0.5 mg/dL) is crucial to our health. There have been several studies that have comparedd CRP levels among people who consume more dietary fiber and others who don’t consume much. Each of studies demonstrates that the more dietary fiber consumed, the lower the CRP.
How does dietary fiber affect inflammation? When bacteria in the gut digests fiber, they produce short-chain-fatty-acids (SCFAs), including butyrate, as byproducts. butyrate inhibits production of damaging chemicals by inflamed microglia. (Microglia are a type of neuroglia (glial cell) located throughout the brain and spinal cord. Microglia account for 10–15% of all cells found within the brain) One of those chemicals is interleukin-1β, which has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease in humans.
Researchers from the University of Illinois fed low- and high-fiber diets to groups of young and old mice, then measured the levels of butyrate and other SCFAs in the blood, as well as inflammatory chemicals in the intestine. The high-fiber diet elevated butyrate and other SCFAs in the blood both for young and old mice. But only the old mice showed intestinal inflammation on the low-fiber diet,” On the other hand, when old mice consumed the high-fiber diet, their intestinal inflammation was reduced dramatically, showing no difference between the age groups. Researchers then turned to examining signs of inflammation in the brain – 50 unique gene in microglia. They concluded that the high-fiber diet reduced that inflammatory profile in animals. Johnson concludes, “Dietary fiber can really manipulate the inflammatory environment in the gut.”
Dietary fiber is an essential component of an individual’s diet. The anti-inflammatory effect of dietary fiber can be seen on serum hsCRP. Dietary fiber may lower hsCRP serum through SCFA, polyphenols, and adiponectin. Through these various mechanisms, dietary fiber is possibly linked to the prevention of low-grade inflammation and its related diseases.
Recommended daily dietary fiber intake by the USDA is 14 grams per 1,000 calories of food. However, some experts recommend that in order to avoid a stroke, we should try to consume 25 grams a day of soluble fiber (concentrated in beans, oats, nuts, and berries) and 47 grams a day of insoluble fiber (concentrated in whole grains). So, focus on replacing meat, eggs, dairy with veggies, fruits and beans along with whole grains. Here is a list of high dietary fiber foods from Care2. Your daily meal consists of the items from the list, your body must be happy.