Diet Low In Soluble Fiber Increases Risk Of Obesity

First Posted: Oct 30, 2015 07:29 PM EDT

New findings published in the American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology show that though high-fat, high calorie food is likely to blame for an increased risk of obesity and other related diseases--it may not just be from higher amounts of calories. Researchers believe that low-grade inflammation due to an altered gut microbiome also plays a part.

The gut microbiota make up a community of bacteria and other microorganisms that function in the intestines. It plays an essential role in maintaining intestinal health and function. Furthermore, previous studies have shown that changes to the gut microbiota have been linked to development of gastrointestinal diseases. 

During the study, researchers examined varying amounts of soluble and insoluble fibers, fats and proteins on the structure of the intestines, weight gain and fat accumulation in mice.

Mice in the study lacking soluble fiber gained more weight and had more fat when compared to counterparts with more soluble fiber. Their intestines were also shorter with thinner walls when compared to counterparts. Yet introducing the mice to soluble fiber inulin supplements restored intestinal structure, while mice that received cellulose, an insoluble fiber, did not show improvements.

Furthermore, in mice fed a high-fat diet, switching the type of fiber from insoluble to soluble protected the mice from the fat accumulation and intestinal wasting that occurs with excess fat consumption. The data suggests a difference in health benefits between soluble and insoluble dietary fibers, according to the researchers.

"If our observations were to prove applicable to humans, it would suggest that encouraging consumption of foods with high soluble fiber content may be a means to combat the epidemic of metabolic disease. Moreover, addition of inulin and perhaps other soluble fibers to processed foods, including calorically rich obesogenic foods, may be a means to ameliorate their detrimental effects," the researchers concluded, in a news release.

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