Fibres - Fibers - Dr Matthias Rath Health Foundation

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Dr. Rath Health Foundation


Fibres First Edition © 2016 Dr. Rath Health Foundation Distribution: Dr. Rath Education Services B.V. Postbus 656, NL-6400 AR Heerlen E-Mail: [email protected] Internet: All rights reserved. Published by Dr. Rath Health Foundation. Individual pages of this brochure may be used for private and non-profit purposes only. Any direct or indirect commercial use of this brochure or extracts therefrom in any form without the written permission of the authors is strictly prohibited.

Contents Introduction 5 What are fibres?


Physiological Effects of Fibres


Therapeutic Use of Fibres


Conclusion 16 Literature Search


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Introduction For a long time, dietary fibres were considered to be useless components of our food with no particular function for the human body. Their significance for human health has only become clear in the last two decades. In industrialized countries, the number of lifestyle diseases, such as obesity, lipometabolic disorders, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer, is abnormally high and steadily increasing. At the same time, the level of dietary fibre consumption has been steadily declining in Western countries. The latter can be linked to the increase in the technical processing of foods and to the increasing consumption of animal food products.

the rate of lifestyle diseases, it seems reasonable to assume a connection between these trends. For more than two decades Cellular Medicine has been engaged in exploring the causes and consequences of poor nutrition. Thanks to modern naturopathic research, numerous issues concerning the rise of today‘s lifestyle diseases have been addressed, along with presenting solutions for their reversal. We see it as our responsibility to inform and educate people about these connections. Moreover, we want to show ways of preventing disease and devoting the necessary attention to a health-promoting diet.

Since the shift in the nutrient composition of our diet runs parallel to the increase in

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What are fibres? In a broader sense, the term “dietary fibres“ covers all indigestible food components. Fibres primarily occur in whole grain cereals, legumes, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Cellulose: a type of fibre that is found in nearly every plant, particularly in the cell walls of fruit and vegetables. It is mainly a water-insoluble fibre and has a high water-binding capacity.

Fibres that are consumed naturally from food pass undigested from the small intestine to the colon. Here they are either broken down by the bacteria of the intestinal microbiota1 and used as an energy and/or building material source, or they are excreted in unaltered form.

Hemicelluloses: multiple sugars (polysaccharides) that are often present in plant cell walls along with cellulose; they can be found primarily in wheat and rye.

Various simple sugars (monosaccharides) are the major components of most fibres. They are linked by special bonds. Since our bodies have no enzymes that can split these bonds, dietary fibres are indigestible to humans. Dietary fibres comprise a large number of different complex structures, which are not yet entirely covered. The quantitatively most important ones include:


Pectins: soluble dietary fibres that mainly occur in fruit and vegetables, primarily found in the cell walls of seeds and shells. Natural gums: complex, water-soluble polysaccharides that are found inside the plant cell. Natural gums have a high water-binding capacity. Mucus: dietary fibres that are mainly found in the endosperm of seeds (nutritive tissue in the cell interior). The best known substance among this type of fibre is guar gum from the seeds of the guar bean.

Storage carbohydrates: dietary fibres that mainly occur in the endosperm of seeds. Resistant starch: a type of dietary fibre that is located in the cell interior of seeds. It is found in most cereals, but also in beans, peas and boiled potatoes. Lignin: water-insoluble component of plant cell walls that occurs in wheat bran, amongst others. Lignin is not a carbohydrate and therefore forms an exception to the group of dietary fibres.

Psyllium: a type of fibre that is primarily obtained from the seeds and seed coats of Plantago ovata (family Plantaginaceae), commonly known as desert Indianwheat, a plant species native to India. In addition to the above-mentioned forms of dietary fibres, there are numerous other substances, particularly in the plant cell wall, that are indigestible by the human body and are therefore classified as dietary fibres.

Two other types of dietary fibres that are often mentioned in the context of human health are β-glucan and psyllium. β-glucan: a natural polysaccharide with a similar structure to cellulose, it is counted among the group of soluble fibres and is found mainly in the marginal layers of grain kernels. It is found in large quantities in oats and barley.

also known as gut microbiota, it is the total of all microorganisms in the gut 1

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Physiological Effects of Fibres Depending on the plant of origin, the composition of the dietary fibres may vary considerably. This results in different effects on the metabolism and digestive organs, based on the following physical properties: Water-binding capacity Due to their structure, all fibres – with the exception of lignin – are capable of binding water. They swell up the chyme, thus supporting the digestion process. Fibre-rich food is chewed longer. In addition, the gastric emptying is delayed due to the increased volume and viscosity of the chyme. As a result, the satiation starts earlier and lasts longer. Further advantages of water-binding: • Creates favorable growth conditions for health-promoting intestinal bacteria ➛ increase in bacterial count and development of suitable microbiota


• Significantly increases stool volume and modifies stool consistency ➛ the higher the volume and the softer the stool, the lower the pressure in the large intestine • Stimulates intestinal movement ➛ promotion of blood circulation of the intestinal wall and function of the intestinal mucosa, activation of self-cleaning • Shortens passage time in lower small intestine and large intestine

Fermentation availability The bacteria in the intestinal microbiota contain enzymes that can break down fibres arriving in the intestine. The availability for the degradation of intestinal bacteria, referred to as fermentation, can vary greatly depending on the type and form of the dietary fibre. The availability of pectins, gums, or the so-called mucus, is particularly high, for example. The following metabolic products are mainly produced during fermentation:

• Methane • Short-chain fatty acids (acetic acid, propionic acid, butyric acid) By creating an acidic intestinal environment, short-chain fatty acids contribute to an optimum composition and metabolic activity of intestinal bacteria. Moreover, the reduction of the pH value is accompanied by an increase in the intestinal movement and acceleration of the intestinal passage.

• Ethanol • Hydrogen • Carbon dioxide

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Furthermore, the short-chain fatty acid butyric acid is particularly involved in the development of the intestinal mucosa and thereby of the intestinal barrier2. It also contributes to an easier uptake of sodium and water in the large intestine, thus protecting against diarrhea.

The bacterial degradation of water-insoluble fibres in the large intestine is relatively low. Most of this type of dietary fibre is therefore excreted with the stool. Along with its high water-binding capacity, this contributes to a considerable increase in the weight of the stool.

Water solubility The solubility of fibres in water is determined by their chemical structure: the higher the content of side chains the higher the water solubility.

Unspecific binding capacity Dietary fibres have a high unspecific binding capacity. This means that many different substances can bind to fibre, including:

Water-soluble structures are rapidly and almost completely degraded by intestinal bacteria, thus serving as their nutrition. This type of dietary fibre includes: • Pectins • Certain hemicelluloses • Natural gums Water-insoluble constituents are mainly represented by the following cell wall components:

• Minerals and trace elements • Digestive enzymes and bile acids • Fats, fatty acids, cholesterol and other fat-soluble substances • Harmful substances from food The binding of the above-named substances affects the extent and speed of their digestion as well as their absorption into the blood circulation. Food components that are bound to fibre escape absorption into the small intestine and enter lower sections of the intestine.

• Cellulose • Hemicellulose • Lignin


Functional unit consisting of the intestinal immune system, the intestinal epithelium, enteric nervous system, secretion products and intestinal mucosa. Function: barrier between bowel interior and body interior, transport of nutrients and water, prevents the penetration of pathogenic bacteria into the organism


Due to their ability to make certain substances inaccessible to the organism, dietary fibres have a positive influence on various metabolic pathways. This is accompanied by a reduced risk of a number of metabolic disorders, such as cardiovascular disease and the metabolic syndrome.

1. Binding capacity for bile acids Dietary fibres are capable of binding bile acids. This binding capacity depends both on the type of fibre and on the pH value in the digestive tract. Water-soluble fibres that are easily fermentable by the microbiota, such as β-glucan, are particularly capable of binding bile acids.

rial of the body‘s gastric acid production, resulting in a reduction of cholesterol levels of up to 25%. According to the findings of Cellular Medicine, cholesterol is a secondary risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The primary risk factor is the instability of the artery walls, caused by a chronic deficiency of essential micronutrients that are necessary for the formation of connective tissue. Nevertheless, it is important to control cholesterol and other blood fat levels through an appropriate diet and by avoiding cholesterol-lowering drugs. In this context, fibres from cereals and cereal products have the strongest effects.

Bile acids bound to fibre cannot be reabsorbed into the blood circulation and are therefore excreted. Since they are urgently required for fat digestion, new bile acids must be produced. In this process, cholesterol functions as the starting mateBile acids Gallensäuren Cholesterol Cholesterin Blood Blut

Liver Leber

Cholesterol is a building block for the production of bile acids. Dietary fibre can bind and excrete bile acids in the intestine. For new formation of bile acids, further cholesterol is used. In this way, cholesterol can be utilized and reduced.

Darm Intestine

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2. Binding capacity for fats In addition to their ability to bind bile acids, dietary fibres are also capable of binding fats. As a result, the total amount of fats absorbed into the bloodstream decreases, while the faecal excretion of fats increases. Studies with dietary fibre from psyllium seed husks have shown that both LDL and triacylglycerol blood levels improved after the intake of this type of fibre. Viscosity formation Due to the previously described waterbinding capacity, a high uptake of dietary fibres makes the chyme viscous. From this form, food ingredients are less rapidly dissolved and provided to the body. This has a particularly advantageous effect on sugar metabolism:


• Delayed uptake of sugar from the digestive tract into the bloodstream ➛ flat blood-sugar curve • Constant insulin release from the pancreas ➛ controlled uptake of sugar from the blood into the organs • Prevention of strongly fluctuating sugar and insulin levels in the blood ➛ prevention of the development of diabetes It has been shown that due to their specific properties, a high consumption of dietary fibres protects against many other diseases. The following list provides just a few examples: • Disorders of the digestive tract: Constipation, diarrhea, diverticulosis, irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids, chronic inflammatory intestinal disorders, colorectal cancer • Disorders of the metabolism and cardiovascular system: Overweight, obesity, lipometabolic disorders, type 2 diabetes , essential hypertension, heart attack

Therapeutic Use of Fibres In addition to their role in disease prevention, studies have shown that dietary fibres are also effective in the treatment of diseases. Here are a few examples: Colorectal cancer: A high intake of dietary fibres reduces the risk of malignant tumors of the colon. This can be explained by the following properties of dietary fibres: • Binding of cancer-promoting substances and their subsequent rapid excretion • Reduction of the passage time and concentration of carcinogenic substances through a high water-binding capacity ➛ reduction of contact with intestinal wall • Stimulation of growth of certain intestinal bacteria that degrade carcinogenic substances (e.g. ammonia) • Increase of the bacterial

production of protective short-chain fatty acids ➛ inhibition of growth and increase in killing of tumor cells • Promotion of the development and regenerative capacity of intestinal wall cells A fibre-rich diet is generally low in fat and proteins and usually contains many other valuable ingredients (vitamin C, phytic acid and other secondary plant substances) that protect against cancer. The risk-reducing effect is therefore not only attributed to dietary fibres.

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Overweight: The consumption of fibre-rich food contributes to the regulation of body weight and can therefore be a useful accompanying measure for reducing weight. This effect is related to the following properties of dietary fibres: • Large food volume with low energy density ➛ reduction of total caloric intake • High saturation effect ➛ reduction of food amount • Viscosity formation and high binding capacity for bile acids and fats ➛ regulation of metabolism Lipometabolic disorders: Due to their previously described ability to regulate the transport and metabolism of fats and other substances involved in fat


metabolism, dietary fibres have a positive influence on the progression of fat metabolism disorders. Diabetes: The positive effect of dietary fibres on blood sugar regulation allows for their use as part of the dietary treatment of diabetes. A diet rich in dietary fibres improves parameters of carbohydrate metabolism in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes: • Stabilization of blood sugar level, both when fasting and after eating • Reduction of glucose excretion in the urine (especially through the use of guar gum) • Positive influence on glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1)

Cardiovascular disease: The risk of cardiovascular disease, which is closely associated with overweight or obesity and diabetes, can be reduced even with a moderate supply of dietary fibre. Constipation: Constipation occurs when bowel movements become less frequent. The activity of the intestines is disturbed. Since dietary fibres are able to increase intestinal activity, they can be used in the treatment of constipation. The following properties are associated with an increase in intestinal activity and bowel movement:

• Change in stool consistency ➛ easier evacuation of the intestines In chronic constipation, the use of psyllium, in particular, reduces the intestinal passage time. Diarrhea: In diarrhea, in turn, dietary fibres prolong the passage time of the chyme through the intestinal tract. In addition, short-chain fatty acids metabolised from dietary fibres contribute to an easier sodium and water intake in the large intestine and are therefore effective against diarrhea.

• Swelling capacity ➛ increase of the water content of the chyme • Increase of the stool volume ➛ mechanical expansion of the intestinal wall

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Conclusion Good and poor health is determined at the level of the millions of cells making up the human body. The optimum daily intake of essential nutrients is needed for their normal functioning. Although dietary fibres are indigestible by the human body, they have a positive effect on health.


By directly and indirectly influencing various metabolic processes, they can protect against the development of certain diseases or contribute to their treatment. These are important principles of Cellular Medicine. Consequently, dietary fibres must be regarded as an important part of a healthy and balanced diet.

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Dr. Rath Research Institute The Dr. Rath Institute in Cellular Medicine is located in Silicon Valley, California. The Institute is staffed with experts handpicked from the fields of medicine, biochemistry and nutrition. Here, world-class scientists conduct innovative research utilizing the principle of nutrient synergy, and investigate the role of nutrients in preventing and treating a host of diseases.

The team at the Dr. Rath Research Institute develops new scientific concepts based on the discoveries of Dr. Rath in the fields of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, infections and other diseases. The team’s scientific work has been published by various media worldwide.

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