Not all dietary fiber is created equal.
A Stanford Medicine study that dug into two types of common digestive fiber supplements showed stark differences in how we react to them, and it’s not always good.
The study also revealed insights into how one type of fiber reduces cholesterol — a mystery scientists have been chasing for years.
“We all know that high-fiber diets are good for us, but published reports of their effects can be highly contradictory,” said Michael Snyder, PhD, professor and chair of genetics and the senior author of the study, which was published April 28 in Cell Host & Microbe.
Snyder, the Stanford W. Ascherman, MD, FACS, Professor in Genetics, and his colleagues monitored thousands of molecules involved in metabolism and the microbiome, tracking the ebb and flow of the molecules as healthy volunteers ingested different amounts of two common dietary fibers — inulin and arabinoxylan.
The results showed that while arabinoxylan was overall a boon for reducing “bad” cholesterol, high doses of inulin caused a spike in inflammation in some people. There was, however, one volunteer whose body reacted well to high doses of inulin but not arabinoxylan. “Overall, this study revealed the effects of common fibers on human health and suggests strategies for personalized dietary interventions,” Snyder said.