Our bodies are very complicated. The more I study it, the more I am completely convinced that only God could have created as marvelous a thing as the human body. But, I am also realizing that we should treat our body as an ecosystem. When we think about having more good bacteria than bad bacteria in our colons in order to have a healthy GI system and immune system and feeding these bacteria fiber so they can thrive like we did yesterday in the fiber post, it become clear how much our body is more like an ecosystem than a single organism.
But, if your family is like my family, increasing fiber can be a complicated task. The short list of fiber foods are things you may already know: whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts. So where do you start? I’ll tell you where I am NOT going to start, and that is whole grains. I haven’t quite figured out what I think about grains, whole or otherwise, soaking or not soaking, etc etc. That doesn’t mean that I am not eating grains. It just means that for now I am not really going to worry about increasing my intake or my kids intake. I will say that most of the sandwich bread that I buy is whole wheat because it is much easier to find without high fructose corn syrup. But, so far, what I am making at home is with plain old all purpose white flour. Gasp. I know, I told you I have to think more about all the issues related to flour and grains in general.
Here are the things that my kids eat that are especially high in fiber:
Corn ½ Cup = 5 g fiber
Popcorn ½ Cup = 1.7g fiber
Apples 1 med = 4.4g fiber
Berries (especially raspberries) ½ Cup raspberries = 4g fiber; 1 C cup strawberries= 3.3g fiber
Kiwis 1 large = 2.3g fiber
Peanuts and Cashews 1/4cup 1-3g fiber
Broccoli 1Cup = 5g
Cabbage (if its cole slaw) 1/2Cup slaw = 1g fiber
Brussels Sprouts (only if they are cooked the right way) 10 sprouts have 7g of fiber
Avocado 1= 9g of fiber
Oatmeal ¼ Cup= 4-5g fiber
Raisins ½ Cup – 4g fiber
Carrots 1 = 2g fiber
Here are the high fiber foods that I want to get them to eat, eat more, or try:
Beans and Lentils black beans and kidney beans 1/2Cup= 9.7g fiber lentils = 7.5g fiber
Chia Seeds 1 tablespoon = 5.5g fiber
Basically, the older my kid, the more variety of fiber foods she eats. So I am going to make sure that we have these foods around a lot and gradually increase the amounts and varieties that we all eat. My little ones always want to eat what the rest of us are eating. And yes, I mean the baby too. Baby loves his broccoli and carrots. Of course, we aren’t trying berries and nuts just yet.
But, we learned yesterday that fiber is really necessary to keep the bacteria fed and the bile clean. So did baby only just now get fiber? I mean, milk doesn’t have fiber, does it?
Now, I’m going to get a little heavy. There is this thing, called oligosaccharides. They are carbohydrates that consist of a relatively small number of monosaccharides, or simple sugars. So, they are sort of between sugars (monosaccharides) and staches (polysaccharides) and lately we have heard them called prebiotics. They are made by plants and are not digestible by humans, which makes them technically a fiber. And they are food for the good bacteria in your large intestine. There are several types of oligosaccharides: fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides (GOS), mannan oligosaccharides (MOS), and HMOs. You can take GOS supplements. They are quite popular in Japan. And a study has shown them to decrease influenza infection. You can get them naturally by eating chicory root, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, leeks, garlic, legumes, wheat, and asparagus. My understanding right now, is that when you soak or ferment foods before eating them some of the oligosaccharide is used up. I’m not sure if that decreases the beneficial effects in the intestines or not.
So, back to whether or not baby got any fiber in breastmilk. The answer is an amazing “YES”. In fact, breastmilk has Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs). These are the HMOs listed above. According to Engfer,Stahl, and Finke et al “ a majority of HMOs reach the large intestine, where they serve as substrates for bacterial metabolism. Therefore, HMOs might be considered the soluble fiber fraction of human milk.”
I think that is enough for today.
Fiber sources links:
Cummings, JH. "The Large Intestine in Nutrition and Disease" (monograph), December 1996, ISBN 2-930151-02-1
Engfer, Meike, Stahl, Bernd, Finke, Berndt, Sawatzki, Guenther, and Daniel, Hannelore. “Human milk oligosaccharidesare resistant to enzymatic hydrolysis in the upper gastrointestinal tract.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2000; 71(6):1589-1586.
Niness, KR. "Inulin and Oligofructose: What Are They?". Journal of Nutrition 1999;129:1402S-1406S.)
Meyer, Pl Diederick. “Nondigestible Oligosaccharides as Dietary Fiber.” J. of AOAC International May/June 2004; 87(3):718-26.