A recent study found that fiber in bamboo shoots promotes healthy gut bacterial flora associated with the breaking down of fat and is more effective in keeping off weight gain than other dietary fibers.
Everyone knows a high-fiber diet is important for health and help prevent obesity and excess weight gain. But until recently, it is not clear if all dietary fibers were “created equal” and are equally effective.
In this study reported in Nature's Scientific Reports, researchers fed mice with a high-fat diet supplemented by several different types of fiber for a period of six weeks. Their aim was to compare the effect of different fibers on weight gains from a high fat diet.
At the end of the study, they found that the mice fed with bamboo fiber not only gained the least weight, but also had better lipid profiles, superior glycemic control, and less fat mass compared with mice who consumed other types of fiber.
This means mice that consumed bamboo had lower levels of “bad” cholesterol and were able to modulate their blood sugar levels more successfully compared to mice fed other fibers.
These findings have important implications for humans since high cholesterol and poorly controlled blood sugar are associated with higher risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, all of which have risen in recent years.
How It Works
The body metabolizes fat in different ways, relying on both enzymes and beneficial gut bacteria to break down the fat so it can be used by the body, eliminated or stored in fat cells.
Earlier studies have shown that some bacteria are more efficient in breaking down fiber and eliminating excess fat than others. In this study, it was found that mice fed a diet high in bamboo shoot fiber had more of these fat-metabolising efficient bacteria, and greater diversity of helpful gut flora overall, compared to mice fed with other fibers.
As a result, other mice gained more weight compared to the mice that consumed bamboo shoot.
“Our findings indicate that bamboo shoot fiber is a potential prebiotic fiber which modulates the gut microbiota and improves host metabolism,” the researchers noted in their study.
They explained that the health-promoting effects of bamboo shoot may be due to its high fiber content. Higher than most commonly consumed vegetables, the fiber content of bamboo shoot is around 40% of dry weight.
Results showed that insoluble fibers were more effective in suppressing high-fat diet induced weight gain than soluble fibers. Also, the insoluble fiber from bamboo shoot outperformed other insoluble grain fibers.
For prevention of weight gain, researchers suggested that inclusion of soluble content in diet should not be more than a third of total fiber intake.
Bamboo shoot fiber has the highest oil-holding capacity compared with cellulose, wheat fiber, and soybean fiber. The dietary fiber isolated from bamboo shoot, Dendrocalamus hamiltonii, exhibits extraordinary water, oil, cholesterol, and bile acid binding capacities. Significantly higher amounts of lipids were excreted in feces in the bamboo shoot fiber group.
Also, the high-fat diet induced a significant drop in the diversity of the gut microbiota. But important differences in the composition of the gut microbiota were found at all taxonomic levels among the different groups.
The same high-fat diet with bamboo shoot fiber resulted in much higher diversity. Modulations in the gut microbiota by bamboo shoot fiber were observed not only in the composition but also in the structure.
Researchers concluded that bamboo shoots performed the best among all tested fibers and the effect was mediated by, at least in part, modulation of the gut microbiota.