When you consume dietary fibers, it is not your body that breaks them down—it’s the bacteria in your large intestine! Important molecules produced by this bacterial activity are called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which comprise a maximum of six carbon atoms along with atoms of oxygen and hydrogen. Your body absorbs around 95% of these SCFAs and puts them to work. Could fiber’s beneficial effects – including weight control, blood sugar balance, and a decreased risk of certain diseases – be attributed to the activities of SCFAs? Research is revealing more about how these molecules benefit your health as they travel around the body.
Slavin J. (2013) Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits. Nutrients 5(4), 1417-1435; doi:10.3390/nu5041417
den Besten G, et al. (2013) The role of short-chain fatty acids in the interplay between diet, gut microbiota, and host energy metabolism. Journal of Lipid Research 54(9): 2325–2340. doi: 10.1194/jlr.R036012 den Besten G, et al. (See above)
Wong JMW, et al. (2006) Colonic Health: Fermentation and Short Chain Fatty Acids. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. 40(3):235-243
O’Keefe SJD, et al. (2015) Fat, fibre and cancer risk in African Americans and rural Africans. Nature Communications 6:6342 doi: 10.1038/ncomms7342 den besten G, et al. (See above)
Soret R, et al. (2010) Short-chain fatty acids regulate the enteric neurons and control gastrointestinal motility in rats. Gastroenterology. 138(5): 1772-1782.
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