Probiotics or beneficial bacteria are important for good digestive health. In order to keep these same bacteria happy and thriving, they need to be fed PRE-biotics, in other words, fiber!
Fiber is the undigestable part of vegetable foods. The most common source of fiber are beans and legumes, onions and garlic, cabbage, unpeeled potatoes as well as fruits such as raisins, figs, prunes, berries and (unripe) bananas.
Most fiber belongs to the category of soluble fiber, as is found in beans, legumes and brerries. Soluble fiber is also able to lower blood sugar levels.
Insoluble fiber is mostly present in whole grain foods, as well as in green veggies and sweet fruits such as raisins and grapes. Insoluble fiber is best known to prevent constipation.
People who don't consume enough fiber, will often suffer from constipation with less than 3 bowel movements a week. Oftentimes, a lack of fiber in the diet will result in overconsumption of (empty) calories and result in being overweight.
Other symptoms of not consuming enough fiber are mood swings and tiredness as a result of blood sugar levels not being as well controlled by fibers in carb-rich meals.
Because people in Africa rarely if ever suffer from colorectal cancer and their traditional diets is rich in fiber, it was assumed this rarity of cancer is caused by a fiber-rich lifestyle. However, this association has not been to be true upon closer inspection.
As unlikely as it seems, a lack of sunshine and hence of vitamin D seems a more likely cause for colorectal cancer. Being more active outdoors also helps prevent almost any form of cancer.
However, that's not a reason to dismiss fiber , since fiber may be an important factor for increased life expenctancy , especially when it is inulin, which as a food source is derived from onion, garlic , asparagus and cichory leaf.
Inulin and FructoOligoSaccharides (FOS) are soluble fibers that promote gut and overall health through their fermentation by gut flora, to yield important metabolites, including lactic acid and the short chain fatty acids acetate, propionate and butyrate
These metabolites help to maintain proper pH in the gut, discourage the growth of unfriendly bacteria, reduce the absorption of toxic ammonia and positively affect bone health by increasing the bioavailability of dietary calcium.
Moreover, acetate, propionate and butyrate promote the integrity of the intestinal cells lining the colon and promote healthy lipid metabolism.