When we think of fiber, we typically think of digestive health. But fiber isn’t just a safeguard against constipation. Fiber keeps your immune system charged; after all, 70-80% of your immune system cells live in your gut. And they need to be fed adequate fiber.
Fiber molecules undergo fermentation in your colon, and in the process optimize your metabolism so that it can appropriately break down dietary fats and sugars. They also produce short-chain fatty acids that help build up your defenses against immune, cardiovascular, and metabolic disorders. But, not all fiber is created equal. There is a trio of fibers that, when consumed on the regular, helps to ensure total body health.
Beta-Glucans Boost Immunity
Beta-glucans are found in shiitake mushrooms and cereal grains, but the kind that really energize immunity are beta-glucans from baker’s yeast. This particular breed of fiber has a very distinct molecular structure that snaps immune cells to attention so that they can respond speedily to foreign molecules, such as those that make up bacteria and viruses, thereby doubling your resistance to disease and infection.
Beta-glucans enhance immune system function by…
- Helping to generate T cells—white blood cells that travel through your bloodstream fighting off bacteria, viruses, and other foreign invaders.
- Helping to kill malignant cancer cells and increasing the body’s anti-tumor immune signals.
- Helping to stimulate the production of interferon-gamma—a signaling protein with an anti-viral punch.
- Helping to elevate salivary levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA), which help build your defenses against cold and flu viruses.
Beta-glucans are a pretty potent fiber power on its own, but when combined with two other types of fiber, it’s a sure-fire blend for digestive and immune system health.
Psyllium Fiber Protects Against Metabolic Syndrome
Psyllium fiber is a soluble fiber from the seed husks of a plantain. Unlike more common fibers, such as wheat bran, psyllium spurs on the production of beneficial short-chain fatty acids in the colon, like butyrate, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
Psyllium fiber is best known as a constipation fighter, but human studies suggest that its benefits extend to combating high cholesterol, regulating blood sugar, optimizing digestive health, and defending against metabolic syndrome. The Mayo Clinic defines metabolic syndrome as:
“…a cluster of conditions—increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels—that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.”
Baobab Fruit Powder Improves Gut Health
Then there’s the powdered dried fruit from the African Baobab tree, which, like psyllium helps your gut health thrive and protects against metabolic syndrome. Studies have shown baobab fruit powder helps treat infantile diarrhea, and also imparts a powerful probiotic effect on gut health. One study showed that a 4% solution of baobab fruit pulp activated the growth of the beneficial probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus, which is essential to human gut health.
Research has shown that most people fall far short of their daily fiber needs. Adding these three unique fibers to your diet can help shore up any fiber gaps and nurture your health all around for increased quantity and quality of life.