Do You Need Fermentable Fiber in Your Diet?

If you’ve been seeing new memes and TikTok videos on fiber, they’re probably talking about fermentable fiber. Fermentable fiber is being identified as similar to semaglutide, an ingredient in trendy obesity medications that promotes a feeling of satiety, or satisfaction. Semaglutide behaves like glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), a natural hormone that tells your body that you’ve had enough to eat.

Fermentable fiber, the headlines say, is just like semaglutide. People are getting excited because fermentable fiber may be an alternative to costly medications. But how excited should you be?

So what is fermentable fiber?

Fermentable fiber is another name for soluble fiber, the type of dietary fiber that can be broken down and fermented by beneficial gut bacteria in the colon. This type of fiber is found in fruits and vegetables, oats, and bran.

Insoluble fiber, found in whole grains, beans, and nuts, is also important for your health. Some foods, such as potatoes, contain both kinds of fiber. 

When you consume foods rich in fermentable fiber, the fiber molecules are broken down by bacteria in the colon. This process requires the bacteria to digest the fiber, releasing gases (such as carbon dioxide and methane) and short-chain fatty acids as byproducts. The fermentation is primarily carried out by beneficial gut bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. These bacteria thrive on the fiber as a source of energy and nutrients.

Fermentable fiber in your diet has health benefits. You can end up with more beneficial gut bacteria, lower cholesterol, less inflammation, and better controlled blood sugar. 

Is this an amazing new discovery?

Not really. Fruit and vegetables are good for you — it’s not news, is it? It’s not even news that eating more fiber can help you lose weight.

But there is a difference between the action of fiber, which does increase GLP-1, and the action of semaglutide: semaglutide reaches the brain faster and lasts longer. This means that people wanting to see the benefits of increased GLP-1 from changes in their eating habits have to choose fermentable fibers throughout the day.

A high-fiber breakfast with oatmeal and an apple give a good start to the day and keep you feeling satisfied till lunchtime. But choosing a burger, fries, and a milkshake for lunch sets you up for mid-afternoon hunger and cravings.

How to use this information

Here is a list of foods high in fermentable fiber:

  • Apples
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Barley
  • Beans 
  • Berries 
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Citrus fruits 
  • Flaxseed
  • Garlic
  • Lentils
  • Oats
  • Onions
  • Root vegetables

This is just a partial list — all your favorite fruits and vegetables contain fermentable fiber. Take the list to the grocery store with you for inspiration, pick up some of these tasty options, and work them into your meals for the week. 

Remember, though – – if you currently don’t eat much fiber, a sudden increase in fiber intake can upset your stomach. Make the change gradually to avoid this, or talk with your family doctor