Editors' ChoiceObesity

Fiber to the rescue?

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Science Translational Medicine  12 Apr 2017:
Vol. 9, Issue 385, eaan2777
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aan2777


Fiber supplementation reduces the proinflammatory effects of high-fat, high-calorie meal consumption.

Obesity affects 38% of the population in the United States, a number expected to increase to 50% by 2030. Because the health and economic burdens imposed by obesity are enormous, effective ways to prevent or alleviate obesity are a high priority. Accumulating evidence highlights the importance of dietary macronutrient and micronutrient composition on risk for obesity and its adverse consequences, including cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes. Increased availability and consumption of high-fat, high-calorie (HFHC) diets are associated with increased risk for fat mass accumulation, while intake of a high-fiber diet is linked to weight maintenance. A recent study in healthy adults suggests that consumption of a high-fiber meal does not result in the same increase in oxidative and inflammatory stress that follows intake of an HFHC meal. Because meals typically consist of dietary variety, it is important to know whether fiber ingestion alongside intake of an HFHC meal mitigates the proinflammatory effects of HFHC consumption. Ghanim and colleagues sought to determine exactly that by assessing the effects of fiber supplementation on the proinflammatory effects of HFHC meal consumption.

Researchers randomized 10 participants to either (i) consumption of an HFHC breakfast or (ii) consumption of an HFHC breakfast and a fiber supplement following an overnight fast. Blood mononuclear cell expression of inflammatory cytokines, including interleukin (IL)–1β and tumor necrosis factor–α (TNF-α), and levels of oxidative stress markers were assessed before and after breakfast consumption. Fiber supplementation resulted in lower glucose and higher insulin levels following consumption of an HFHC breakfast. Furthermore, fiber supplementation attenuated the increases in expression of IL-1β and TNF-α and increases in reactive oxygen species that accompanied ingestion of the HFHC meal alone. The authors concluded that the addition of fiber mitigates the adverse proinflammatory effects of HFHC diet consumption and that these anti-inflammatory effects of fiber may contribute to its documented beneficial effects in reducing risk for diabetes and CVD. Although these data provide evidence for the mechanism by which fiber intake may decrease risk for obesity-related disorders, the generalizability of the results is limited due to the sample including only healthy adults. Future studies must replicate and extend these findings to assess whether fiber supplementation attenuates the proinflammatory consequences of HFHC consumption in overweight and obese individuals to determine whether fiber supplementation may serve as a viable intervention with which to prevent the adverse consequences of obesity.

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