Raise your hand if you’d like a ‘Happy Tummy.’ Eating is one of life’s fundamental pleasures, and when you don’t have a happy tummy, everything else falls off as well.
Well, fiber gets some well-deserved credit for keeping your digestive system in a good mood, but it does plenty more. Fiber is a carbohydrate that you get in plant foods: beans, fruit, grains, nuts, and vegetables. A recent report by the World Cancer Research Fund International/American Institute for Cancer Research found that eating 90 grams of fiber-rich foods daily could lower colorectal cancer risk by 17%. It’s a significant player in so many of your body’s systems that getting enough can help keep you youthful!
But, let’s not jump too far ahead. We’re going to take a look at Larch Arabinogalactan, which, technically, isn’t a nutrient because it isn’t broken down and absorbed. It essentially ferments in your intestine, and that’s what makes it so beneficial. It’s an excellent source of dietary fiber for you and has been approved as such by the FDA. In foods, Larch Arabinogalactan is used as a stabilizer, binder, and sweetener. When extracted, it creates a fine, white powder (starch-like) that has a slightly sweet taste and is 100% water-soluble, so it’s easy to add to drinks or food.
Okay, now back to the anti-aging part you’ve been waiting for. Research shows that older folks who ate fiber-rich diets were 80% more likely to stay healthier and live longer than those who didn’t eat fiber-rich diets according to a recent study in the Journals of Gerontology. For ten years, researchers followed over 1,600 healthy adults. First, they defined “successful aging” as being free of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes and having good overall cognitive, physical, and cardiovascular function. You probably agree that those are all on your checklist too.
After a decade, those participants who had aged successfully consumed an average of 29 grams of dietary fiber per day. So, how is it that this simple substance has such a powerful effect on your health and longevity? Well, as it turns out, there are a lot of ways that fiber works this anti-aging magic for you.
For instance, a 2018 study published in National Center for Biotechnology Information found that people who got 31 grams or more per day had about a 50% reduced risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Why? Because when you eat food that’s high in fiber, it naturally slows the absorption of carbohydrates into your bloodstream. Now your blood sugar levels rise more slowly, and your pancreas has more time to react and maintain the healthy level of insulin that you need. There is a growing body of evidence linking low insulin levels to increased longevity. In recent years, scientists have found evidence to suggest that we live longer when we eat a low-calorie diet, which reduces insulin production. This is another way that the high fiber found in Larch Arabinogalactan (LA) can potentially help keep you youthful.
The only problem is that most of us Americans are way short of getting the amount of fiber that we need. For people age 51 and older, government guidelines now recommend that men get at least 28 grams per day, and for women 22 grams. But the Department of Agriculture says adults in this age group are averaging only about 16 grams per day. That’s a problem. Enter Larch Arabinogalactan, a polysaccharide powder derived from the wood of the Larch tree (Larix species), which has a high amount of just the dietary fiber needed.
Rather than you digesting LA fiber directly, it’s used by your intestinal microbiota as food and they do all the digesting for you. Another upshot of this is that those busy little microbiota then increase their production of the Short-Chain Fatty Acid (SCFA) called butyrate.
You need butyrate for proper colon health because it’s the preferred “food” for your colon cells. It’s also both an anti-inflammatory and acts as a protective shield for your intestine lining against disease and cancer-promoting agents. Butyrate also acts as an energy source for your colon cells.
LA has also been proven to increase the levels of your beneficial intestinal bacteria, especially Bifidobacterium longum. For this reason, LA is recognized as being a valuable Prebiotic for your digestive system. A prebiotic is “a non-digestible food ingredient that promotes the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the intestines.” A healthy supply of good bacteria can have far-reaching health effects for you, such as strengthening your immune system and helping to control inflammation. So, Larch Arabinogalactan gives you fiber, improves the health of your microbiota, and increases butyrate production to help protect your colon. A win-win-win!
But let’s look at another vital benefit of Larch arabinogalactan because it’s been shown to decrease the generation and absorption of ammonia. You’re probably wondering why that’s important to you, right?
Well, if you’re conscious of your health, athletic performance, or recovery, you’re probably aware of how important protein is for your body and all of its daily functions. Most ammonia in your body forms when protein is broken down by the bacteria in your intestines, and then the ammonia is sent through the liver for processing.
Ammonia levels in your blood will rise dramatically if your liver is not able to then convert it into urea as happens when you have kidney or liver health issues like cirrhosis or severe hepatitis. If that ammonia accumulates in your blood, it can cross the blood-brain barrier and result in devastating neurological disorders. Under normal circumstances, though, your bloodstream safely moves the urea to your kidneys where it is eliminated in your urine.
Another challenge arises, though, when you consume excess protein. The ammonia formed as a by-product of protein metabolism can’t be eliminated through your urine. So, it’s lost in sweat. Note that if your sweat ever has an ammonia odor, your protein intake may be higher than your body can use. The rate that food leaves your stomach slows as a way to try to protect your body from any ammonia overload. This is the reason that very high protein intake can sometimes make people feel nauseated. Now you see why the potential of Larch Arabinogalactan to provide you with ammonia protection is essential.
Larch Arabinogalactan fiber also helps to lower your cholesterol. How? It binds to bile acids (these are produced by your liver to aid in both your digestion and fat absorption), and it helps your body excrete them. Now your body has to produce more bile acids, and it pulls cholesterol from your blood to do it. A 2016 Cochrane Review of 23 studies found that increasing your dietary fiber leads to a 7.7 mg/dL reduction in total cholesterol and a 5.4 mg/dL drop in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
Okay, so it’s a good thing for your digestion, colon health, and cholesterol, but what else does it do? Plenty! There is also information that suggests Larch Arabinogalactan may significantly boost your immune system and help prevent cancer cells from growing. How?
In studies, Larch Arabinogalactan is known to enhance the action of your immune system. It promotes cytokine production (this is the communication and signaling compounds of your immune cells). But the billboard goes up for the way that it significantly improves your Natural Killer Cell activity. Natural what? Yes, scientists refer to these Lymphocytes (white blood cells) as natural killer cells though it sounds like a name your 8yr old son would have given them. So, it’s okay for us to admit that the way they ‘annihilate’ their viral victims – is pretty neat.
Natural Killer Cells (NK Cells) circulate through your blood, lymphatic, and tissues – on patrol for any transformed or pathogen-infected cells. NK Cells carry with them microscopic granules in their cytoplasm that contain these exceptional toxic proteins (such as perforin and proteases) known as granzymes. They get next to the cell slated for killing, and then the perforin infiltrates it by forming pores in that cell’s protective membrane (cytotoxic reactivity). Next, the NK Cell releases granzymes and associated molecules directly into its target, destroying the harmful pathogen or virus inside (apoptosis).
Since there are many chronic illnesses associated with decreased natural killer cell activity, LA is associated with improving conditions such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Psoriasis. Rheumatoid arthritis, Scleroderma/systemic Sclerosis, Sjögren’s syndrome, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus(SLE), Viral Hepatitis, and other autoimmune diseases. Keep an eye out because since NK Cells have been shown to kill cancer cells, experts are studying ways to increase the number or boost the function of these cells in the body as a potential cancer treatment. Larch Arabinogalactans may prove to be substantial in future cancer cure protocols. In addition to stimulating NK Cell cytotoxicity, Animal studies have demonstrated arabinogalactan’s ability to inhibit or block lectin receptor sites; thereby reducing tumor cell colonization of the liver and also increased the survival time of the subjects.
LA may also interact with your M-cells. What’s an M-cell? They’re an essential part of your Gut-Associated Lymphoid Tissue (GALT). This system is crucial for the proper immune response in your digestive tract. Researchers have found that LA molecules may stimulate M-cells, which go on to activate T cells, B cells, and other cells of your amazing immune system. In this way, your gut immunity potentially extends to affect whole-body immunity. This effect on GALT may explain why the Larch Arabinogalactan been shown to decrease the incidence of the viral infection we affectionately call ’The Common Cold’ episodes by 23%. More research is coming.
When you consider using any fiber-rich supplement, you should increase your intake of it very gradually. Also, be sure to drink ample fluids to protect against side effects commonly associated with high doses of fiber to avoid symptoms like gas, bloating, constipation, and cramps.
Finally, as with any dietary complement ~ speak with your healthcare provider before making any changes in your supplement regimen.