Livin' on the MDedge

The gut microbes have spoken: All fiber is good fiber


Finding a fiber of good moral fiber

If you’ve ever wandered into the supplement aisle at your local grocery store, you’ve probably noticed an overabundance of fiber supplements that claim to do this for you and benefit that. Since there’s no Food and Drug Administration regulation on fiber supplements, manufacturers are free to (and do) make whatever wild claims they like. And much like choosing which of 500 shows to watch on Netflix, when you’re spoiled for choice, it can be difficult to pick.

fiber supplements on store shelf Duke University Photo

Enter a team of molecular geneticists and microbiologists from Duke University. They can’t tell you what show to watch next, but they can tell you which fiber to choose, thanks to their new study. And the answer? Yes.

Well that’s not very helpful, but let us explain. For their study, a group of 28 received three of the main fiber supplements (inulin, dextrin, and galactooligosaccharides) for a week each, followed by a week off of fibers for their gut to return to baseline until they’d received all three. Those who consumed the least fiber at baseline saw the greatest benefit from fiber supplementation, with no appreciable difference between the three types. It was the same story for study participants who already consumed enough fiber; because their guts already hosted a more-optimal microbiome, the type of supplement didn’t matter. The benefits were the same across the board.

In an additional study, the Duke researchers found that gut microbiomes reacted to new fiber within a day, being primed to consume fiber on the first dose and digesting it more quickly on the second fiber dose.

The results, the researchers pointed out, make sense, since the average American only consumes 20%-40% of their daily recommended supply of fiber. Our digestive systems aren’t picky; they just want more, so go out there and choose whatever fiber you’d like. Do that, and then feel free to eat as many double bacon cheeseburgers as you’d like. That is the pinnacle of diet right there. Dietitians literally could not complain about it.

Jarlsberg vs. Camembert: This time it’s skeletal

Fiber is fabulous, of course, but the road to dietary health and wellness fulfillment takes us to many other, equally wondrous places. Hey, look! This next exit is covered with cheese.

wedge of Jarlsburg cheese PxHere

All the cheeses are here, from Abbaye de Belloc to Zwitser, and there, right between the jalapeno cheddar and the Jermi tortes you’ll find Jarlsberg, a mild, semisoft, nutty-flavored cheese that comes from Jarlsberg in eastern Norway. A recent study also suggests that Jarlsberg may help to prevent osteopenia and osteoporosis.

A group of Norwegian investigators gathered together 66 healthy women and gave them a daily portion of either Jarlsberg or Camembert for 6 weeks, at which point the Camembert group was switched to Jarlsberg for another 6 weeks.

The research team choose Camembert because of its similarity to Jarlsberg in fat and protein content. Jarlsberg, however, also is rich in vitamin K2, which is important for bone health, and a substance known as DHNA, which “might combat bone thinning and increase bone tissue formation,” they said in a Eurekalert release.

After the first 6 weeks, blood levels of osteocalcin; vitamin K2; and PINP, a peptide involved in bone turnover, were significantly higher in the Jarlsberg group only. All those measures rose significantly after the switch from Camembert to Jarlsberg, while levels of total and LDL cholesterol “fell significantly in the Camembert group after they switched to Jarlsberg,” the team added.

But wait! There’s more! HbA1c fell significantly among those initially eating the Jarlsberg but rose sharply in those eating Camembert. Do you see where this is going? After the Camembert group made the switch to Jarlsberg, their HbA1c levels fell significantly as well.

So it’s not just a cheese thing: The effects are specific to Jarlsberg. Can you guess what we’re having for lunch? Double bacon and fiber Jarlsbergers. Mmm, Jarlsburgers.


Next Article: