Restricting one's diet to food not rich in fat and low in calories can be an effective way to keep the weight off. However, a new study finds that following a diet high in soluble fiber may also give people the same positive outcome.
Researchers suspected that low-grade inflammation due to an altered gut microbiome can be another reason why people tend to gain more weight. Bacteria and other microorganisms thriving in the intestines play important roles in the gut. They aid in food digestion, nutrient absorption, and prevention of gut diseases caused by other foreign microorganisms.
Past studies have indicated that a low-soluble fiber diet can cause the alteration of the gut microbiome, triggering inflammation and leading to weight gain. Soluble fiber helps in the absorption of water in the intestine and binds to cholesterol and other fats, flushing them out from the body.
In the study, researchers at Georgia State University investigated the effects of diet on the structure of the intestines, fat accumulation, and weight gain. The team fed mice with a series of diets that have varying levels of soluble and insoluble fiber, proteins and fat.
They found that those mice fed with diet lacking soluble fiber gained more weight and accumulated more fat as compared to those mice on a diet rich in soluble fiber. The former group also had shorter and thinner intestines which were observed as early as two days after starting the diet. However, the researchers found that switching insoluble fiber to soluble among mice in a high-fat diet prevented them from fat accumulation and intestinal wasting.
Introducing soluble fiber was also found to have restored the gut structure. There was also an increased production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) when mice where fed with diet high in soluble fiber, where the opposite was observed among mice in soluble-fiber deficient diet.
With all these findings, researchers indicate that adding soluble fiber to a diet may promote good gut health and regulate weight, as the gut microbiota are driven to produce SCFAs.
"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 insulin and perhaps other soluble fibers to processed foods, including calorically rich obesogenic foods, may be a means to ameliorate their detrimental effects," researchers noted in a press release.
The study appears in American Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology.