Increased Fiber and a Healthier Gut

Dietary fiber, most commonly, is one such nutrient that gets totally ignored while we are busy counting calories and watching the intake of fats and sugars. Scientists have always known that consuming a healthy amount of dietary fiber is good for the health and many studies have also successfully backed up this claim. However, in spite of the substantial evidence that points to the many benefits of fiber, most of us still continue to ignore this very important nutrient. Maintaining a healthy intake of roughage can not only improve your gut health, but it is necessary for maintaining your overall physique as well. Let’s take a look at the link between increased fiber and a healthier gut.

Increased Fiber and a Healthier Gut

Importance of Fiber

Throughout the years, there have been numerous studies that have effectively shown the strong link between high fiber diets and increased longevity along with a healthier life. For example, a study found in the 1960s that Ugandans were able to successfully avoid the common diseases of Americans and Europeans by eating a high fiber vegetable diet. Additionally, studies in the late 1980s found that the rural Japanese populations, who are well known for their longevity, had a diet rich in fiber, as compared to the urban dwellers in Japan, who had lower fiber consumption.

However, it is only in recent years that we have started to gain a deeper understanding of why fiber is so crucial to our overall health and well-being.

A study published in the journal Cell Host and Medicine in December 2017 found that the importance of dietary fiber is critically linked to the importance of our gut bacteria. This means that having a diet rich in fiber helps feed and produce more of these friendly gut bacteria. The higher the level of microbes present in our intestines, the better will be the barrier between the body and the bacteria population and the thicker will be the mucus wall that protects our digestive tract from invasion by the ‘unhealthy’ bacteria. The thicker mucus wall also lowers inflammation within the body while the gut bacteria continue to promote better digestive health.

A person’s gut biome changes by the week, by the season, and even by the meal. For example, if you continue to eat a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts, and legumes, then your gut health is going to reflect this healthy diet. When you consume low-fiber foods or stick to consuming only a few types of fiber, or are having a fiber supplement every day, then this will cause harm to your gut microbiome and will also affect the health of the protective mucus wall in your intestines.

However, there is, at the same time, the saying that having too much of anything can be bad. The same rule applies to intake of fiber as well. Eating too much fiber is likely to cause gas, bloating, intestinal blockages, and overall digestive distress. However, it is definitely going to be hard to get in too much fiber. This particularly so because most people actually do not even get the sufficient level of fiber that they are supposed to get.

Increasing your fiber intake slowly will help you avoid any digestive distress, gas or bloating. Also, avoid going overboard on fiber as well to avoid any problems.

How to Include Fiber for a Healthier Gut

Many people these days find themselves being constipated due to their eating habits. So how do we ditch our unhealthy eating ways and move on to a diet that is more in line with what our body needs and what is best for our gut microbiome?

There are two types of fiber, soluble fiber, and insoluble fiber. If you want to make a dietary shift to a high-fiber diet, then you should ideally be including both types of fibers in your meals. This is because both types of fibers have their own functions and provide different benefits for the body. This is why getting sufficient amounts of both types of fiber is important.

Here are some tips you should think about following for building a healthier gut that helps the gut bacteria thrive promoting good health.

Include Lots Of Fruits And Vegetables

Fiber is commonly found in abundance in all fresh fruits and vegetables and if you are unsure about what foods to have that include fiber, then you really can’t go wrong by ramping up your intake of fruits and vegetables. In fact, you would be surprised to know that the State University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil found that just by eating one apple before every meal, you can gain significant health benefits in terms of fiber intake.

Consume Seasonal Foods

The Hazda, a Tanzanian tribe are known to have long and healthy lives simply by eating seasonal foods. Research has shown that the Hazda also have a diverse gut microbiome due to this seasonal eating. As a habit, you should always check your grocery store’s fresh and in-season fruits and vegetables in order to get an idea of what you should be consuming at that point in time. Not only are seasonal fruits and vegetables great for your health, but they also tend to taste much better when they are in season. They are also less expensive than the foods that are out of season.

Processed Foods Equals To Less Fiber

Refined and processed foods do not contain whole grains or whole wheat. This is why they are typically referred to as low fiber foods. These include foods such as regular pasta, white bread, white rice, amongst others. You should also keep in mind that juicing is also in a sense processed food itself as it removes the maximum amount of insoluble fiber from your food. This causes you to lose out on the benefits of fiber, such as regulating digestion and preventing the spiking of blood sugar after a meal.

Don’t Lose Your Mind At A Restaurant

Remember to keep your wits around you while you order at a restaurant. Just because you are eating out does not mean you have to forego your healthy diet. In restaurants, especially fast food restaurants, you are unlikely to find fruits and vegetables being used as they prove to be very expensive. This is why when you go through a menu, make sure you pick something that is likely going to be rich in beans or legumes, and will include more of fruits and vegetables wherever possible.

You Do Not Need To Forego All Junk Foods

Just because you are eating a high fiber diet, this does not mean that you need to stop eating all the junk food you like. It is still possible for you to eat fast food, just as long as you include a high fiber food item into your meal. For example, if you are having pizza for lunch, you can always include a handful of snap peas along with it or include some whole-wheat crackers along with your soup. Even a high fiber snack before your meal can make a whole lot of difference.

Remember To Eat Peas, Beans And Lentils

While everyone knows that fruits and vegetables are nutritious and beneficial for our health, many of us tend to overlook legumes. Legumes are an excellent source of fiber and you should try to incorporate at least one type of legume at some point during the day into your meal.

Importance Of A Fibrous Breakfast

When you start your day with a healthy and fiber-rich breakfast, you ensure good health for the rest of the day. Traditional breakfast foods such as eggs and bacon do not include fiber. You can try having a whole grain cereal or a bowl of oatmeal instead to incorporate fiber into the first meal of the day. Also adding a piece of fruit along with your regular breakfast will make a difference. Or try including a yogurt at the end of breakfast.

Skip The Supplement

Fiber supplements are unlikely to benefit you very much. In fact, fiber supplements will only provide you with a small increase in fiber, rather than giving you the entire variety of benefits that fiber provides. People taking fiber supplements are also unlikely to be pairing them with the right high nutrient foods, which causes more health issues.

Conclusion

There is plenty of science to prove the importance and health benefits of fiber. Eating a wide variety of fibrous foods will make your gut microbiome flourish. Plant-based foods along with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables will help you watch your weight, maintain your blood sugar, and also stay in great health. So go ahead and increase your fiber intake to move towards a healthier gut.

References

Makki, K., Deehan, E.C., Walter, J. and Bäckhed, F., 2018. The impact of dietary fiber on gut microbiota in host health and disease. Cell host & microbe, 23(6), pp.705-715.

Sánchez, D., Miguel, M. and Aleixandre, A., 2012. Dietary fiber, gut peptides, and adipocytokines. Journal of medicinal food, 15(3), pp.223-230.

Jha, R. and Berrocoso, J.D., 2015. Dietary fiber utilization and its effects on physiological functions and gut health of swine. Animal, 9(9), pp.1441-1452.

Jha, R. and Berrocoso, J.D., 2015. Dietary fiber utilization and its effects on physiological functions and gut health of swine. Animal, 9(9), pp.1441-1452.

Conlon, M. and Bird, A., 2015. The impact of diet and lifestyle on gut microbiota and human health. Nutrients, 7(1), pp.17-44.

Hamaker, B.R. and Tuncil, Y.E., 2014. A perspective on the complexity of dietary fiber structures and their potential effect on the gut microbiota. Journal of molecular biology, 426(23), pp.3838-3850.

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