Published: 11/20/2006 - Updated: 11/05/2017
Before providing any dietary supplement, it is advisable to consult a professional, because he is the one who has to assess whether or not there is the need to include these supplements in the diet as well as the dosage and method of administration. These additions increase the contribution of fiber in the diet.
It's called fiber to the carbohydrates that give structure to plants and that the human body cannot digest or absorb. The biggest advantage of these substances is their ability to increase bolus faecal passing in the digestive tract due to its ability to absorb a significant amount of water.
Consequently, stool, end product of digestion, becomes more voluminous and soft, because it is more hydrated. Moreover, the increase in size of the fecal bolus stimulates intestinal transit, which reduces their time spent in the digestive system, while helping to regulate bowel movements, avoiding bowel problems. However, consumption of foods rich in fiber should not be exaggerated because it can limit the absorption of certain minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc, which can result in nutritional deficiencies of these minerals.
The FOS are a type of soluble fiber composed of fructose units. As with other types of fiber, our body is not able to digest or assimilate. However, a portion of this fiber is fermented by bacteria, particularly the bifidobacteria that colonize our large intestine, particularly in deriving its positive effects on health.
Where do I find them?
They are in variety of plant foods as chicory, artichokes, asparagus, garlic, onion, leek, tomatoes and bananas, among others, but in amounts that are small. For this reason it is considered appropriate to introduce into the diet, in addition to those foods, those with added ingredients like FOS. This is the case with some prepared milk beverages, baby foods, bakery products and dietary supplements.
Health effects of FOS
Health effects attributed to FOS are associated to change the composition of the micro-flora of the colon, why they are called "prebiotic” Components.
- Encouraging the growth of bifidobacteria (flora charity) and inhibiting the pathogenic bacteria such as E. Coli, Shigella or Salmonella.
- Stimulating immune function and the synthesis of certain vitamins.
- Helping reduce the development of digestive disorders such as excessive gas, and balancing the intestinal flora by reducing the development of putrid bacteria.
- Improving intestinal transit, which is beneficial in case of constipation and diarrhea.
- Helping reduce the risk of colon cancer through different mechanisms:
- Fiber wrap carcinogens in the diet, reducing the contact time with the same layer that coats the large intestine.
- Fermentation by intestinal bacteria of FOS produces an acid environment in the colon that inhibits the formation of metabolites created from the bile of bile acids and certain fatty acids, which are known as pro-growth of tumor cells.
In addition, the consumption of FOS is associated with a better use from the body of the following minerals: calcium and magnesium, essential components of bones and teeth.
Pectin in apple
Pectin is a carbohydrate that is not absorbed in the intestine and whose properties make their use may be beneficial in the treatment of some diseases. Fruits in general are rich in pectin, a substance which is also used as a thickener additive industry to preserves and marmalades.
How does it act?
The pectins are carbohydrates that are part of the soluble fiber. This type of fiber is characterized by contact with water, forming a reticulum in which water is trapped by the mixture. Thanks to its ability to absorb water, pectin increases the volume of stool. Furthermore, it is capable of capturing substances at the intestinal level and delay the absorption of some nutrients as well as slow gastric emptying.
Effects of pectins
The ability to retain water, which the pectins presents, as well as their gel-forming property, they are beneficial in cases of diarrhea, which makes the physiological process of emptying the stomach is slower, and capture water, so liquid stools own diarrheic processes become more thick. Therefore, although the apple pectin is part of the fiber, it can be used as an antidiarrheal.
Among its properties, it can also slow the intestinal absorption of sugars, so that the pectins are able to improve glucose intolerance. Its consumption may be beneficial in people with diabetes because of the slow passage of sugars from the stomach to the duodenum, which avoids the abrupt increase of blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia).
The presence of pectins in the diet may also have beneficial effects on levels of blood cholesterol. The pectins are capable of binding to bile acids, thereby facilitating their removal along with faeces. These bile acids are degradation products of cholesterol, so as pectins have hypocholesterolemic effect(decrease levels of cholesterol in the blood), contributes to reduced risk of various cardiovascular diseases.
However, it must be remembered that the pectin, taken together with certain medicines may reduce the absorption of them. Therefore it is appropriate that before taking any dietary supplement, you have consultation with a professional to assess whether or not the need to include these supplements in the diet and the dose and the method of administration.
In constipation, food plays an important role in its prevention, treatment and resolution of symptoms. However, in certain situations it may be necessary to use fiber supplements or laxatives under prescription.
Linseeds, a good choice
The linseeds contain large amounts of soluble fiber (pectins and mucilages, which in contact with water form a gel) and an oil rich in unsaturated fatty acids, which help to increase the size of the fecal bolus, favor its progression through the bowel and soften the intestinal mucosa without irritating at all.
How to take flax seed?
To improve the situation of constipation, you can take the whole seeds or as infusion. I.e. take one teaspoon two to three times daily with a large glass of water. To make infusion, we must add about 30 grams of seed per liter of water, boil for about 5 minutes, allow to stand about 10 minutes and filter using a strainer. In this case, we recommend taking 2 to 3 cups per day.
However, compared with constipation, this should be taken into account:
The use of fiber supplements or taking laxatives are always options to consider, and if it was attempted to improve the food and lifestyle without having obtained no results. Therefore, faced with a situation of constipation, you should initially consider the following:
Does my diet have enough food rich in fiber? The increase in inputs of fiber from whole grains, vegetables and fruits, legumes, fruits and nuts, is associated with an increased frequency of stools and a greater weight of the feces. Therefore, these foods should form part of our daily diet.
Do I have an adequate intake of water or other fluids every day? We recommend eating at least four or five glasses of water and other liquids (juice, soups, tea ...) every day so that stools are more fluid and easier to expel.
Am I a sedentary person? The exercise when done regularly helps to strengthen the muscles of the abdominal wall involved in the defecation reflex.