Unique Fibers That Are Worth Highlighting

Unique Fibers That Are Worth Highlighting

Several fibers have specific health implications, and are worthy of highlighting.

Fructans
A fructan is the term used to describe a small chain of fructose molecules.

Oligofructose and inulin are the two main fructan varieties in the diet. They can feed the friendly bacteria in the gut, and have been shown to help treat certain types of diarrhea (26).

However, fructans are also classified as FODMAPs, types of carbohydrates known to cause digestive issues in many people (27).

In fact, fructans and other FODMAPs trigger adverse symptoms in 3 out of 4 people with irritable bowel syndrome, a common digestive disorder (28).

The biggest source of fructans in the modern diet is wheat (29).

Beta-Glucan
The health benefits of beta-glucans have been extensively documented. These fibers have a specific molecular structure that makes them highly viscous in the gut.

Beta-glucans can improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels. They can also significantly reduce cholesterol levels and increase feelings of fullness (30Trusted Source).

The main food sources of beta-glucans are oats and barley.

Glucomannan
Glucomannan is a viscous fiber that is commonly marketed as a weight loss supplement.

Numerous studies have shown that glucomannan can cause modest weight loss, fight constipation and improve risk factors for heart disease (31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source).

BOTTOM LINE:
Fructans are fibers that can cause adverse digestive symptoms in some people. Beta-glucans and glucomannan are soluble, viscous fibers with potent health benefits.
Take Home Message
Fibers that are soluble, viscous and fermentable seem to be the healthiest, by far. Resistant starches are also incredibly healthy.

Good sources of healthy fibers include vegetables, fruits, oats, legumes, nuts, dark chocolate, avocados, chia seeds and various other foods.

However, there is probably no need to obsess over the details here. As long as you are eating plenty of whole plant foods, then your fiber intake should take care of itself.

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