Soluble fiber benefits Dry January

Soluble fiber benefits Dry January

Dry January has become a collective cultural reset after holiday indulgences have run their course. It’s not only a great time to refocus on health and good habits, but an opportunity to promote natural detox pathways that can get “clogged up” between Halloween and New Year’s. While your liver is taking a break from adult beverages, targeted timing with soluble fiber can boost the benefits of Dry January.

Here are the brass tacks: a small but consistent increase in intake of alcohol, refined carbs and sweets over the holiday season can lead to a few extra pounds. Soluble fiber taken with meals leads to reductions in triglycerides, cholesterol and therefore a healthier, happier liver. This, in turn, promotes weight loss and better natural detoxification, maximizing your Dry January efforts.

A larger than moderate increase in alcohol intake over the season can lead to a build up of triglycerides (fat) in your liver. This disrupts liver function and over time leads to an ugly little disease-state called fatty liver. One study revealed that after 10g soluble fiber per day for 3 months, “100% of patients [with fatty liver] presented reduction in body mass index, waist circumference and insulin resistance index. In 66.7% of the patients were observed reduction of the cholesterol levels and 75% presented normal liver enzymes (AST, ALT, and GGT)”.

Soluble fiber, taken regularly can help your body break down and remove the build up of fat in the liver.

Want the nitty gritty on how this happens? - keep reading.

Before we dive in, let’s do a quick review of how your holiday cocktails are metabolized and why they may leave your system bogged down with extra fat build-up.

How alcohol turns to fat in your liver

As you’re enjoying your martini or Manhattan, a small amount of ethanol is absorbed by the stomach lining. This process can actually damage the stomach cells over time and lead to reduced digestive strength (i.e. less hydrochloric acid to break down protein and cleave iron and less intrinsic factor to help you absorb B12). However, the majority of the ethanol you’ve ingested (about 90%) enters the portal vein and is shuttled to the liver.

Your liver begins the detox process as ethanol is converted by alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) to acetaldehyde (the molecule you can thank for your hangover). If you consume more than your liver can metabolize, the acetaldehyde seeps back into the bloodstream, damaging tissues and leading to your next-day headache and malaise.

However, if your liver can keep up, the mitochondria will convert acetaldehyde to acetate by way of another enzyme called ALDH or aldehyde dehydrogenase. The conversion of acetaldehyde by ALDH creates a molecule called acetate. Now, your liver and other cells use acetate to make Acetyl CoA, the precursor to fat.

This is how alcohol consumption increases triglycerides, cholesterol and risk of fatty liver and weight gain. In moderation, your system may burn this fat as fuel, but when alcohol consumption outweighs metabolism, you risk this excess fat building up in the liver and reducing liver function.

Florasophy and Liver Detox

Now that we have reviewed the biochemistry of alcohol metabolism, let’s talk about how your system can reset itself.

Imagine your liver has a little extra fat storage (triglycerides and cholesterol) come January from all that extra acetyl CoA. Your liver uses cholesterol to make bile which is shuttled to your gallbladder and secreted into the small intestine when you eat. That bile will either help you break down and absorb dietary fat which carries the cholesterol containing bile back into your bloodstream OR the bile will be bound by soluble fiber and carried into your toilet.

Every time this happens, your liver uses more stored cholesterol to make more bile, therefore reducing total cholesterol, AcetylCoA, triglycerides and overall fat storage.

Florasophy provides 4 grams of soluble fiber per serving, helping to maximize your Dry January efforts with reduced cholesterol, triglycerides and overall fat storage. 

About Megan Barnett, MS, CNS

Megan Barnett, MSMegan Barnett is a functional medicine practitioner in Portland, Oregon. In her clinical practice, she helps patients identify the root cause of their health problems, then designs individualized and evidence-based approaches to alleviate symptoms and help their bodies heal. She has a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Kansas State University and a Master of Science in Nutrition and Functional Medicine from University of Western States.