On healthy and unhealthy meal replacement shakes
Why fibers are not all alike
Fiber is very important for our health. But not all fiber is alike.
After all, there is soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
Soluble fiber can be found in vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Insoluble fiber can be found in bread and other grain products, but also in other foods, like vegetables or nuts.
The insoluble fiber is less healthy than the soluble fiber. The insoluble fiber mainly serves as "roughage": it increases the peristalsis (contractions) of the gut. It does not serve as food for the bacteria in your gut. That's the job of soluble fibers.
Soluble fiber is the food the bacteria in your gut live on. This fiber helps us to maintain a healthy "microbiome".
The microbiome are all bacteria that live in your gut. Estimates vary, but they are about 40,000 billion to 300,000 billion.
The microbiome plays a very important role in your health.
Many people eat too little soluble fiber (like in fruit and vegetables).
In prehistoric times, an average of 100 to 150 grams of fiber was consumed per day. Now the average Westerner only eats 20 grams of fiber per day. Much too little!
The bacteria do not get enough fiber to eat. That has all kinds of negative consequences. According to Professor Justin Sonnenburg at Stanford University, one consequence is that the bacteria start to eat the mucosal layer in the gut (as an alternative food source instead of fiber). This damages the gut wall and can cause a leaky gut (or "increased gastrointestinal permeability").
In the case of a leaky gut, toxic substances (like lipopolysaccharides) from the gut "leak" through the damaged gut wall into the bloodstream. This can have long-term negative effects on the liver, immune system, metabolism and even the brain.
It is therefore important to take in sufficient soluble fiber. This fiber serves as food for the gut bacteria, so they leave the gut wall untouched, and also ensures the growth of benign gut bacteria, such as bifidobacteria.
BENJA contains a high amount of soluble fiber, from vegetables, lentils and other ingredients. It also contains extra added inulin fibers. These are soluble fibers that can serve as a food source for benign gut bacteria.